This story has been updated.
The Republican Party of Texas is expected to vote on whether to censure U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-San Antonio) at its quarterly meeting in Austin this weekend, according to party officials.
Gonzales, whose 23rd Congressional District includes part of Bexar County, has been invited to the meeting but as of Wednesday morning had not confirmed whether he would attend, Republican Party of Texas spokesman James Wesolek said.
Gonzales’ office did not immediately respond to an email requesting a comment Wednesday. He easily won reelection to his second term in November, defeating Democrat John Lira by claiming 56% of the vote.
The complaint stems from a censure approved by the Medina County Republican Party earlier this month that says Gonzales failed to uphold the party’s values by voting in support of same-sex marriage, voting against the new GOP majority’s rules package and voting for a gun safety measure inspired by the the Uvalde school shooting. Gonzales broke with the rest of the state’s House Republicans on all three votes.
The Medina County resolution, which has since been affirmed by 15 other counties, also details numerous complaints about Gonzales’ approach to border security, such as repeating “the Democratic canard that supporters of border security are anti-immigrant.”
Covering all or part of 29 counties, Texas’ 23rd Congressional District includes a large part of the state along the U.S.-Mexico border, and Gonzales has accused fellow Republicans of using the immigration crisis for their own political gain.
In particular, he’s been a vocal opponent of U.S. Rep. Chip Roy’s Border Safety and Security Act, which would require that asylum-seekers be detained while their cases are processed, among other changes. Roy represents parts of Bexar County and the Hill Country.
Frustration with Gonzales for diverging from party orthodoxy has been brewing for months, though multiple efforts by the Bexar County Republican Party to censure him failed for various reasons. The group is among the county parties that affirmed the Medina County GOP’s censure.
The State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) is made up of one male and one female delegate from each of the 31 state Senate districts, plus two chairs. They’re expected to vote on the censure resolution Saturday morning. It would need support from three-fifths of the 64 members to pass.
If the resolution is successful, members of the SREC would be able to choose between several options to punish Gonzales, according to party rules.
They could simply discourage Gonzales from running for reelection as a Republican, or they could lift the restriction on party officials campaigning against him, as is required for current GOP officeholders.
Perhaps of greater consequence, they also could prohibit Gonzales from receiving financial help from the party, which boosts GOP candidates through ads, discounted mail rates and other campaign support. The Republican Party of Texas spent $9 million helping GOP candidates in the 2020 election cycle, said Wesolek.
Gonzales was first elected in 2020, when national Democrats and Republicans poured millions of dollars into his race against Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, who had narrowly lost to retiring U.S. Rep. Will Hurd in 2018 in what was then considered a swing district.
After redistricting made the district slightly more favorable for Republicans, national Democrats stopped considering it a worthy target.
Any penalty chosen by the SREC would go away after May 28 of next year, the date of the primary runoff for the 2024 election, so Gonzales could get state party funding for a general election.
The last high-profile, statewide censure took place in 2018, when the SREC voted to punish outgoing Texas House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio.
Correction: Support from three-fifths of the 64 members of the State Republican Executive Committee is needed to approve censure of U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales. An earlier version of this story stated the wrong number.