TEXAS, USA — The Republican Party of Texas voted Saturday to censure U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, over his recent votes that split with the party.
The State Republican Executive Committee passed the censure resolution 57-5, with one member abstaining. It needed a three-fifths majority to pass.
The move allows the party, which is otherwise required to remain neutral in intraparty contests, to set aside that rule for Gonzales’ next primary.
The last — and only — time the state party censured one of its own like this was in 2018, when the offender was then-state House Speaker Joe Straus. He was also a moderate from San Antonio.
Gonzales did not appear at the SREC meeting but addressed the issue after an unrelated news conference Thursday in San Antonio. He specifically defended his vote for the bipartisan gun law that passed last year after the Uvalde school shooting in his district. He said that if the vote were held again today, “I would vote twice on it if I could.”
“The reality is I’ve taken almost 1,400 votes, and the bulk of those have been with the Republican Party,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales’ campaign responded to the censure in a statement that dinged the state party.
“Today, like every day, Congressman Tony Gonzales went to work on behalf of the people of TX-23. He talked to veterans, visited with Border Patrol agents, and met constituents in a county he flipped from blue to red. The Republican Party of Texas would be wise to follow his lead and do some actual work,” campaign spokesperson Evan Albertson said.
There was no public debate over the censure at the SREC’s quarterly meeting Saturday in Austin. The committee went into executive session for about an hour before returning and immediately voting on the resolution.
The SREC is the 64-member governing body of the state party and includes some of its most involved activists, giving it a staunchly conservative makeup.
The original censure resolution came from Medina County, which is west of San Antonio and part of Gonzales’ 23rd District. It cited his support for the bipartisan gun law that passed last year, as well as his vote for a bill codifying protections for same-sex marriage. The resolution also pointed to his vote against the House rules package in January and his opposition to a border security bill being pushed by fellow Texas GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Austin.
Gonzales was one of only 14 Republicans to vote for the gun law — and the only one from Texas. He was the only GOP vote against the rules package, and he has stood alone among Texas Republicans in forcefully criticizing Roy’s bill, saying it would effectively end asylum. Roy has denied that.
Correction, March 4, 2023 at 7:40 p.m.: An earlier version of this story misstated the amount of support needed to approve the censure. Three-fifths support was needed, not a simple majority.
This story comes from The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans - and engages with them - about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.