The Establishment Knives are Out for this Pro-Gun Candidate

We’re still a month away from the Republican runoff election in TX-23, where incumbent Rep. Tony Gonzales is desperately trying to hold onto his seat against a strong challenge from 2A activist and influencer Brandon “The AK Guy” Herrera, and the smears from the Gonzales camp are becoming increasingly ridiculous. 

Gonzales has already accused Herrera of being a “known neo-Nazi”, and insinuated that Virginia congressman Bob Good, who endorsed Herrera in the runoff, is a KKK member. Now the San Antonio Current is lending a helping hand to Gonzales by trying to manufacture a controversy around Herrera auctioning off an RPK rifle to raise money for his campaign. 

In an online rant this week, YouTube vlogger-turned-congressional candidate Brandon Herrera appeared to displaying a dismissive attitude about Uvalde’s tragic school shooting — even though he’s running to represent a South Texas district that includes the city. 
Herrera is facing incumbent U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales in a runoff for the GOP nomination to represent Texas’ 23rd District. That district includes both San Antonio and Uvalde, where 19 students and two teachers lost their lives at during 2022’s Robb Elementary School shooting.

Herrera trails his opponent in fundraising and last week announced plans to raffle off an AK-style weapon to raise cash. The raffle raised the eyebrow of one critic on the social media platform X, who questioned its optics in light of the Robb Elementary tragedy.

“Speaking of Texas GOP carpetbaggers, Brandon Herrera, who is running against Tony Gonzales in #TX23 has decided to raffle off an AK47. Uvalde, where 21 people died in a horrific school shooting, is in his district,” DFW-based consultant Joel Montfort tweeted.

So… a Democrat has a problem with what a Republican candidate is doing. Is that really newsworthy? It seems like a “dog bites man” kind of story to me, but the Current insists that Herrera’s response to Montfort is somehow beyond the pale.

The comment drew a quick rebuke from Herrera, who appeared to wave off concerns about how the fundraiser might play with Uvalde voters.

“A tragedy happening in a certain geographical area doesn’t affect my [constitutional] rights,” he fired back. Herrera added: “The fact Democrat cucks like you are attacking me and not my opponent says it all.”

Cuck — a favorite insult among right-wing internet trolls — is short for “cuckold,” a dated term to describe a man whose wife is sleeping around on him.

Predictably, some were quick to call out Herrera for a lack of decorum.

“Congressional candidates calling people ‘cuck’ on social media lol,” X user @DemocraticDesp1 wrote in response to Herrera’s comments. “Gonna need a new comms guy.”

I dunno. Gonzales seems to have stuck with his comms gun after calling Herrera a “known neo-Nazi’ on CNN, which is a little worse than calling someone a cuck on X/Twitter as far as I’m concerned. 

I doubt this tempest in a teapot is going to do anything to hurt Herrera, but Gonzales isn’t just relying on the friendly (or at least anti-Herrera) press to drag his campaign across the finish line. He’s calling on a host of establishment Republicans to help defend his incumbency. 

Even so, the YouTuber’s sense of humor appears to be a bridge too far for some top Republican officials. Gov. Greg Abbott this week joined Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in endorsing Gonzales, and Republican U.S. House Mike Johnson also visited San Antonio this week to stump for the incumbent.

I can’t say I’m surprised to see Johnson going to Texas to pitch voters on Gonzales. Incumbency has its privileges, and one of them is being able to count on party leadership to have your back, at least if you’re a good foot soldier. Johnson’s also worried about the razor-thin margins in the House, and though TX-23 is a pretty red district, it’s generally safer to stick with the person in office instead of nominating an outsider. The fact that Matt Gaetz, who’s been a continual thorn in the side of GOP House leadership, is backing Herrera might also have played a role in Johnson rushing to Gonzales’s side. 

I don’t agree with Johnson’s endorsement, but I can at least understand the rationale behind it. Patrick and Abbot’s endorsement, on the other hand, is a little more of a shock given that the Texas GOP has censured Gonzales for, among other things, voting in favor of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in 2022. 

In addition to the endorsements of the governor and lt. governor, Gonzales’s campaign is touting the support of more than 100 local officials in TX-23. We get it. The establishment loves the incumbent, or at least is willing to deal with a known entity instead of electing fresh blood. But in a sign of Gonzales’ continuing struggles, when Sabinal City Council member Erik Gomez tweeted about his endorsement of Gonzales, he was quickly ratioed on social media. 

It’s a great question, but Gomez never bothered to reply. Maybe because there’s no good answer? 

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