Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones won her party’s nomination for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District outright. In November, she’ll face the winner of the Republican primary runoff currently set for July 14.
The two Republicans vying for the chance are Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Tony Gonzales and Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Raul Reyes.
Ortiz Jones also served in the military as an intelligence officer in the Air Force
In the primary, Gonzales finished with 28 percent of the vote to Reyes’ 23 percent. The next closest contender, Alma Arredondo-Lynch, finished at 13 percent.
The victorious candidate this fall will replace retiring Congressman Will Hurd (R-TX-23) who announced his retirement in August 2019. Ortiz Jones faced Hurd in 2018, narrowly losing by fewer than 1,000 votes.
Each of the three candidates must cope with the disarray coronavirus has caused as certain aspects of traditional campaigning are all-but-prohibited. But each are finding new ways to get their message to voters.
Texas’ 23rd Congressional District spans one-third of the U.S.-Mexico border, is currently the only border district represented by a Republican, and is considered the most competitive district in the state by the Cook Partisan Voting Index.
Historically, the district was strongly Democratic until 1992 when Henry Bonilla defeated incumbent Albert Bustamante. Bonilla held the seat until 2006 — when the district was redrawn after a U.S. Supreme Court decision — when Ciro Rodriguez knocked him off.
From there, the district changed partisan hands three more times until Hurd managed to secure his re-election for three terms.
In the last two presidential races, the district went for Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney.
Since coronavirus hit many people’s pocketbooks, raising campaign funds has become more difficult.
According to the first-quarter filing period numbers, Ortiz Jones has maintained a steep fundraising lead throughout the race with nearly $3.5 million raised, over $1.2 million spent, and almost $2.4 million still available.
As for the Republicans, Gonzales has raised $800,000 and has $270,000 left in cash on hand. Reyes, meanwhile, raised about a quarter of Gonzales’ total and has a mere $45,000 left available.
Tony Gonzales has received a litany of endorsements including Hurd, General Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, and current Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-02).
On Wednesday, the campaign also announced the endorsement of the race’s third-place finisher, Arredondo-Lynch.
In her endorsement, Arredondo-Lynch said, “I can say without hesitation, in this runoff, he is the best and most qualified candidate to defeat the Democrats come November. I know Tony. I support him 100%. I want to urge all of my supporters to rally around his campaign and help him win this run-off election on July 14th.”
Gonzales added, “I am honored to have the support of my friend Alma in this runoff. Alma ran a great campaign and she earned enthusiastic support from across the district. We look forward to working with her to decisively win this runoff and defeat liberal candidate Gina Jones in the November general election.”
Reyes, meanwhile, has secured the endorsement of a slew of TX-23 sheriffs including David Doran in Schleicher County, Brad Coe in Kinney County, Arvin West in Hudspeth County, Keith Hughes in Terrell County, Randy Brown in Medina County, and Don Jackson in Pecos County.
The two GOP candidates have carved out their own niches in the race, but both have also focused on their contrasts with Ortiz Jones.
On his website, Gonzales focuses on being pro-life, his support for a strong military, protecting Second Amendment rights, and reducing business regulations. In a campaign ad, Gonzales touts his conservative credentials stating that he will “stand with President Trump, secure the border, finish the wall, and end sanctuary city policies.”
Reyes, meanwhile, has fashioned himself as a more hard-lined, “grassroots” conservative type. Placing himself opposite Hurd, Reyes said he is “unhappy with the lack of representation” by the current congressman in D.C. He’s even called Hurd and Gonzales “RINOs,” or “Republicans in name only.”
His website says he will work to cut taxes, secure the border, protect Second Amendment rights, oppose abortion, overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs, and repeal Obamacare.
Regardless of which GOP candidate wins in July, they’ll have a shorter-than-normal period in which to run a general election campaign. Ortiz Jones not only has the luxury of more funding and previous ballot name-ID but that of winning her primary outright.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.