SREC Censure Vote Will Strengthen
Border Rep if It Doesn't Lead to Death
March 4, 2023
The Texas GOP governing board voted overwhelmingly on Saturday to punish one of its own elected officials for being unfaithful to the party's guiding values in a move that could cost the Republicans a seat in Congress if it has the desired effect initially.
The State Republican Executive Committee rallied behind a resolution to censure U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales of San Antonio on a 57-5 vote at a meeting in Austin on the grounds that he'd demonstrated "a lack of fidelity to Republican principles and priorities" during his first two years and two months in office.
Seizing on payback powers afforded in the state platform provision known as Rule 44, the SREC accused Gonzales of failing to toe the party line as established in the state platform with positions that he's taken on "traditional marriage, second amendment protections, preserving freedom, and border security." Rule 44 gives the state and local party organizations the ability to censure elected leaders who run afoul of platform planks at least three times in a singular biennium.
While censure votes have become popular with county GOPs as their only real source of party loyalty enforcement, Gonzales is only the second elected official to be targeted in such an action at the state level in Texas. Another resident of the Alamo City - Joe Straus - had been the first.
The SREC backed a resolution to censure Straus in January 2018 on a vote of 44-19. Straus was in the midst of his fifth and final term as the Texas House speaker at the time. Straus was not seeking re-election that year in his hometown district - and the historic SREC vote to censure the state's third most powerful leader was purely for show as result.
Gonzales indicated that the state party's formal admonition will have no effect on his future political plans or the votes that he casts with a vow to keep putting his district ahead of partisan politics. But the SREC maneuvering has massive potential to backfire in Congressional District 23 as the only true swing seat on the U.S. House map for Texas.
The censure resolution is essentially an invitation for candidates to challenge Gonzales in the primary election in 2024 if it doesn't encourages him to step down on his own without a fight. A more conservative nominee could make it all but impossible for the Republicans to hold CD 23. Gonzales probably is the GOP's best shot to keep the seat.
But the Republicans want to make the party as ideologically pure and single-minded as possible with Rule 44 as the chief tool for primary recruiting. As a U.S. Navy veteran who was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, Gonzales may feel more like he's alone on an island now in the wake of the SREC spurning.
Gonzales made headlines in January when he complained heavily about being excluded from President Joe Biden's entourage in El Paso on his first trip to the border since taking office two years earlier. Gonzales argued that he'd had a right to be at the Biden photo in EP as a consequence of a long stretch of the border that he represents in Washington D.C. Biden to laugh off the protests.
more to come ...