November 15, 2023
The Tony Gonzales right-wing multiverse
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) stood in the way of Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-Ohio) speaker bid last month, angering the conservative grassroots movement that already viewed the two-term Texas Republican with suspicion.
But if there were any hard feelings on the Hill between Gonzales and the GOP’s right flank, you wouldn’t know it. On Monday evening, Gonzales held a telephone town hall with Jordan. The next day, Gonzales partnered with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) to tout an effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
The moves both center around border policy, which Gonzales told us was his “Number-one, number-two and number three issue.”
Gonzales’ increased proximity to two of the right’s most high-profile figures comes as he faces several conservative primary challengers in his sprawling, border-area district. But Gonzales denied that the recent joint appearances had anything to do with his political future.
“The American people are counting on us to make this crisis stop,” Gonzales said at a press conference with Greene. “My record has been very clear. I’ve hosted over 100 members of Congress. I’ve done over 20 different congressional delegations. My positions have not changed from day one [on the border].”
This dynamic has already caught the interest of at least one of his primary challengers, Victor Avila, a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent. Avila accused Gonzales of engaging in border issues for optics.
“Gonzales opposed impeaching Mayorkas for three years. But now that Gonzales knows he’s in trouble, suddenly he wants to help. This last-minute reversal is too little, too late to save his job,” said Brandon Wear, Avila’s spokesperson.
Gonzales pushed back at his critics by defending his relationship with more conservative members of the House GOP conference.
“It’s like, what multiverse are we in?” Gonzales joked when we asked about his appearances with Jordan and Greene. “A lot of people don’t realize [that] I’ve got a wide variety of friends here.”
If you recall, Gonzales was a key opponent to Jordan’s speakership bid. He voted against Jordan three times on the House floor.
Gonzales also was a key skeptic of the Mayorkas impeachment effort as we previously reported.
Gonzales said he and Jordan have worked closely together on border issues. The Texas Republican said he was involved in the drafting of the GOP’s signature border legislation that originated in the Jordan-led House Judiciary Committee.
“I’m very grateful that Jim Jordan took the time out of his day to do that. It means a lot,” Gonzales said about the town hall.
As for Greene, Gonzales noted they are in the same class and sit next to each other in the Homeland Security Committee. And when two of Greene’s constituents died in a car crash in Gonzales’ district recently, Gonzales said his “very first call” was to MTG.
“That’s how close we are,” Gonzales said. “It’s not a surprise to me. It may be a surprise to other people.”
Greene told us she confided in Gonzales before filing her impeachment resolution against Mayorkas and thanked him for his courage on the issue.
“As a matter of fact, Tony has hosted most of us in his district,” Greene said. “Tony Gonzales represents the district in Texas that has Eagle Pass. I would call that the front door to the invasion.”
In August, we scooped that several of the most high-profile House conservatives were plotting to knock off Gonzales. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Troy Nehls (R-Texas) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) have all met with Gonzales’ primary opponents this year.
First elected in 2020 by just four points, Gonzales won reelection last cycle by a wide margin. The Republican succeeded former Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) following Hurd’s retirement.
Gonzales, a close ally of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, is also a prolific fundraiser.
— Max Cohen and Mica Soellner