State Watch

Texas Republican escapes county censure over support for gun legislation

Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) leaves a House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.
Greg Nash

A county Republican Party in Texas tabled a motion to censure Rep. Tony Gonzales (R) over his vote in favor of the bipartisan gun reform law that President Biden signed in June. 

Republican leadership in Bexar County, which is located in the southern part of the state and includes San Antonio, was set to join two other county parties, Medina and Pecos, in censuring Gonzales on Tuesday, according to the San Antonio Report.

But the vote was tabled after some meeting attendees told the county executive committee that any censuring efforts should wait until after the November midterm elections. 

Former Rep. Quico Canseco (R-Texas), who used to represent the same congressional district that Gonzales does, said the party is “trying to shoot ourselves in the foot.”

He added that censuring him now could hurt the party’s candidates for positions like county judge and county commissioner. 

Gonzales’s 23rd Congressional District includes Uvalde, the site of a horrific school shooting that resulted in the deaths of almost two dozen people, the majority of them children.

The shooting spurred lawmakers to take action on gun reform. A bipartisan group of senators reached a deal, and President Biden signed the bill into law about a month after the shooting. 

The law includes measures like enhancing background checks for gun buyers who are between 18 and 21 years old, closes the so-called boyfriend loophole and increases funding for intervention programs and mental health treatment. 

The county party was also tentatively set to censure Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who played a key role in reaching the deal, but also decided to table the issue.

Gonzales is running for reelection in a district that has been traditionally competitive, but has leaned more conservative after Texas completed its decennial redistricting process last year. 

Jeff McManus, the chair of the Bexar County party, intended to call for a censure vote on Tuesday, but executive committee members noted a state party rule that says Gonzales and Cornyn needed to be invited to defend themselves, according to the San Antonio Report. 

McManus made a motion to vote on whether he should invite the two lawmakers to a meeting, but the motion failed by voice vote. 

Gonzales said in a statement earlier on Tuesday that he takes a county censure vote seriously because he values constituent feedback, which is why he holds a monthly call with local Republican leaders and frequently schedules town halls.

He also defended his vote for the gun legislation, saying he would vote for it again.

McManus told The Hill that the executive committee voted to table the motion until other “procedural requirements” are met. He said if and when the executive committee chooses to resubmit the resolution, the county party will take it up.

Updated 5:07 p.m.

Tags Bexar County Censure GOP censure gun reform bill Joe Biden John Cornyn John Cornyn Quico Canseco Republican Party Texas Tony Gonzales Tony Gonzales Uvalde school shooting
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