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After recount, Tony Gonzales is still winner of GOP runoff for U.S. Rep. Will Hurd's seat

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Tony Gonzales announces in San Antonio's Orsinger Park that he is running for Texas Congressional District 23 on Sept. 2019. Credit: Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune

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 had 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." 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. A state Republican Party spokesman confirmed Friday night that the margin had narrowed to 39 votes, but said the party had not yet received an official withdrawal request from Reyes.

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 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.

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.