The coveted Congressional District 23 seat has been red for the last five years — and Republicans aren’t planning to give it up without a fight.
Congressman Will Hurd, who first wrested the seat from incumbent Democrat Pete Gallego in 2014, and held onto the seat for two more terms, opted not to run for reelection this year, sparking a rush of Democratic and Republican candidates seeking to take his place.
Nine candidates are listed on the early voting ballot in the Republican primary; however, one has caught the financial and moral support of national party leaders — and Hurd himself.
Tony Gonzales, 39, of San Antonio and a Navy cryptologist who recently retired after 20 years of service recently received Hurd’s endorsement.
Gonzales, married and the father of five, raised more than $385,000 in the three-month financial reporting period that ended Dec. 31. Much of it came during visits to the nation’s capitol. It also includes a loan of $65,000 he made to himself.
He has received funds from the Reclaim America PAC, started by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a former presidential candidate; and from the Boots PAC, which is supported by the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations and other Native Americans as well as several corporations and banks.
“As a pragmatic leader, I will continue to serve in Washington by crafting solutions to everyday problems for Texans,” Gonzales said. “I will ensure people in this district have access to more resources than ever before — more opportunities for jobs, higher education, and better healthcare.”
Here are the eight others on the Republican ballot.
Raul Reyes Jr.: Reyes, 49, a retired Air Force Lt. Col. from Castroville and homebuilder, is the second-highest fundraiser on the Republican side.
He raised $135,121 in the same time period, according to the Federal Election Commission records, including a $29,000 loan he made to himself. Most of the rest comes from individuals who donated from $150 to the maximum $2,800.
Reyes strongly supports a border wall and shares sharp criticism of Hurd.
Alia Garcia-Ureste: Garcia-Ureste, 47, of El Paso was appointed to the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2014, is a businesswoman and nurse. She considers herself a President Donald Trump loyalist. She ran in the GOP primary for an El Paso congressional seat in 2018, but lost. Federal records show she raised $12,796 in the three-month reporting period.
Alma Arredondo-Lynch: Arredondo-Lynch, 64, is a dentist in Uvalde and a rancher, a fifth generation Tejano. She raised nearly $100,000 in the three-month reporting period, including $60,000 that she loaned to herself.
Ben Van Winkle: Van Winkle, 31, is a small business owner in San Antonio and son of an immigration judge. Van Winkle presents himself as a constitutionalist who believes in the right of people to opt out of paying to Social Security and Medicare.
Commission records show he raised $14,491 during the reporting period, including a loan he made to himself of $8,501.
Cecil Jones: Jones, 70, is a retired U.S. Army counterintelligence specialist from San Antonio. He stresses fiscal restraint and the goal of a balanced federal budget in his campaign for the 23d District GOP nomination.
Jones raised $22,765 in the reporting period. That includes a $3,077 loan he made to himself.
Darwin Boedeker: Boedeker, 42, is a gun show promoter from San Antonio. He is a strong Trump supporter and promises a different kind of campaign for the 23d District GOP congressional nomination. His federal report shows he raised $4,140 during the three-month period.
Jeff McFarlin: McFarlin, 31, a newcomer to electoral politics, McFarlin offers a somewhat unusual story — that of becoming a successful businessman without benefit of going to college — along with a commitment to bring people together in pursuit of conservative goals. He’s in the oil and gas business, a husband and father of three and lives in San Antonio.
McFarlin raised $31,440 in the three months.
Sharon Breckenridge Thomas: Thomas, 59, of San Antonio served 15 years as a civilian lawyer for the Air Force. She was appointed to state commissions first by Gov. Rick Perry and then by Gov. Greg Abbott. She currently sits on the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
Federal records show she raised $6,552 in the same three-month reporting period.