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Saturday, August 22, 2020

After Recount, Tony Gonzales Is Still Winner of GOP Runoff for U.S. Rep. Will Hurd's Seat

Posted By on Sat, Aug 22, 2020 at 10:25 AM

click to enlarge Tony Gonzales has declared victory in his runoff for the Republican candidacy to represent Texas' 23rd District. - TWITTER / @TONYGONZALES4TX
  • Twitter / @TonyGonzales4TX
  • Tony Gonzales has declared victory in his runoff for the Republican candidacy to represent Texas' 23rd District.
The recount of the Republican primary runoff for the national battleground seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, has reached an end, and Tony Gonzales remains the winner.

Raul Reyes, who finished 45 votes behind Gonzales in the July 14 runoff, announced Friday evening that he was abandoning the recount.

"Without a sizable shift in the vote margin after a recount in the most populous parts of the district I have decided to end the recount," Reyes said in a news release, thanking his supporters for their "blood, sweat and tears."

Reyes' campaign said seven of the largest counties in the district had been recounted, and while he narrowed his deficit to 39 votes, it was "not enough to justify continuing with the counting of ballots." A Texas GOP spokesperson confirmed that was the current recount margin but said it had not yet received an official withdrawal request from Reyes.

While the massive district has 29 counties, the seven counties referenced by the Reyes campaign made up over 80% of the vote on election night.

Gonzales is now set to be the undisputed nominee for the seat, one of Democrats' best pickup opportunities across the country. The Democratic nominee for the seat, Gina Ortiz Jones, won her primary in March and went 171 days without a clear GOP opponent.

"The general election begins now, and Tony Gonzales will welcome the help of everyone in this district to win in November," said Matt Mackowiak, a spokesperson for Gonzales.

Gonzales' win is also good news for President Donald Trump, who backed him in the homestretch of the runoff — three days after U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz endorsed Reyes. Reyes, a former Navy cryptologist, also had the backing of Hurd and House GOP leadership.

On Friday night, Jones' campaign released a memo that noted her big head start but insisted it is "taking nothing for granted," noting things like the fact it is already airing its second TV ad of the general election. The memo argued that after a contentious runoff, Gonzales would be "defined" by his affiliation with Trump, who lost the district in 2016, and views on health care.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee welcomed Gonzales to the general election with English- and Spanish-language videos attacking him for the same things. Each video begins with a robocall that Trump recorded for Gonzales on the eve of the runoff, telling voters that Gonzales "will work for you in Congress, and by working for you, he's working for me."

Meanwhile, the House GOP arm congratulated Gonzales on becoming the nominee and argued that Gonzales has deeper roots in the district than Jones. Tom Emmer, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement that Gonzales "is a perfect fit for this district and I look forward to helping to tell his inspiring story."

The effective conclusion of the recount caps a process that began over a month ago. Coming out of election night, Reyes was down by just seven votes, a deficit that grew to 45 as the final ballots came in and the results were canvassed. Reyes announced July 31 he would seek a recount, and it began 11 days later.

In the weeks since the runoff, Gonzales repeatedly claimed victory and criticized Reyes' recount effort as a hopeless pursuit, saying it was taking away from the party's ability to unify against Jones.

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