Two years ago, the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde — the deadliest school shooting in Texas’ history — spurred Congress to pass gun control legislation for the first time in over three decades. Uvalde’s Republican congressman, Tony Gonzales, helped lead negotiations that resulted in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which ultimately was backed by 14 House Republicans and 15 Republican senators.

Now Gonzales, the lone Texas Republican to back the gun control legislation, is stuck in a runoff with a YouTuber who calls himself “the AK Guy” and has capitalized on conservative activists’ ire with the congressman.

The Republican is no stranger to close races. Texas’ 23rd District encompasses a swath of West Texas stretching from El Paso to San Antonio, and, before the latest round of redistricting, was one of the Lone Star State’s most competitive districts. Gonzales, a retired master chief petty officer and cryptologist who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, won the GOP nomination for this seat in 2020 after winning a nailbiter of a runoff, and went on to defeat Democratic Air Force

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