Next stop, Washington

Tony Gonzales talks Texas, the Hispanic vote and plans for his first term

Gonzales won in Texas’s 23rd congressional district, which was expected to flip to the Democrats

Courtesy Gonzales for Congress

Tony Gonzales

Republican Tony Gonzales pulled off a stunning upset in Texas’s 23rd congressional district on Tuesday, winning a district that most election handicappers had anticipated would flip to the Democrats.

Gonzales’s victory fit in line with several key trends in Tuesday’s results, including disappointing results for Democrats in battleground districts across the Lone Star State and GOP gains among Hispanic voters.

In a post-election interview with Jewish Insider on Wednesday, Gonzales credited his victory over Air Force veteran Gina Ortiz Jones to his voter outreach efforts across his district, as well as his Hispanic, Catholic background.

“I resonate with this district,” he said. “I think the messenger matters.”

More broadly, Gonzales attributed the shift among Hispanic voters toward the GOP this cycle to faith and family values within the community, but emphasized that the Republican Party will need to continue to diversify its candidate slate to continue to expand its coalition.

“I just think the messenger matters,” Gonzales repeated. “The Republican Party continues to grow as long as we have diverse candidates that can reach those places that traditional Republicans hadn’t gone to before.”

While Gonzales has extensive knowledge of Middle East policy — including military service in Iraq and Afghanistan and a stint as a Department of Defense fellow for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) focusing on the Middle East — his top priorities for his first term are focused on his home district, he said, including job creation and immigration reform. 

The former Navy cryptologist declined to say which committees he’s angling to join, but emphasized that he’s hoping to bring his cybersecurity background to bear in Congress to address geopolitical adversaries, including Iran.

“You’re going to see me get on the Hill and start carving out that space,” he said. “It’s an area of expertise that is sorely lacking on Capitol Hill.”

Gonzales also said he’s planning to join the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation trip to Israel for first-term members.

Retiring Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), whom Gonzales will be replacing, has generally been regarded as one of the most moderate and Trump-critical House Republicans. Gonzales appeared to characterize himself as more “conservative in [his] values” than Hurd, but expressed a commitment to bipartisanship and said he seeks to help the country “heal” and “get back to regular order.”

“It seems like things have gotten crazy as of late. And I want to be a reasonable member, a sensible member, somebody that people are proud of. It starts by just us coming back together,” he said. “I look forward to working with all my colleagues, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum to get stuff done.”

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