(note: this post is in response to a post by David Jennings on 2/6/14 about the Harris County Republican Party chair race)
This is to respond to some questions you raised in your post today, to clarify where I stand on issues important to Republicans and why I can lead the fight to restore the Harris County to a be a Republican stronghold.
You write about the shrinking influence of the County Party during Jared Woodfill’s 12-year reign. So does our campaign website and literature. That’s a direct result of the Party’s losing elections and shrinking footprint on the ground. As County Chair, I will continue to do what I have long done – work in the trenches across Harris County to elect Republicans. Like how my group of volunteers four years ago created, for virtually no cost using open-source software, the Precinct Manager tool that gives precinct chairs online access to their precinct voter data, and to other precinct chairs, with built-in communications ability, 24/7 – and made it available for free to Republican precinct chairs. Meantime, the County Party has spent some $45,000 this past year on a tool that is still not operational.
You also write about how the Party fills precinct chair vacancies between elections. We have to be smarter. A party is a coalition. Winning in politics means building coalitions with those we don’t always agree with on everything. This is not a matter of principle, but a question of tactics. Because a party that advances no principles is meaningless. But a party that wins no elections is irrelevant.
Rebuilding our grassroots army will not happen overnight, but must begin right away. I will bring together paid staff and volunteers in task forces immediately to target key precincts throughout Harris County, in strong Republican areas and in competitive districts, to identify, recruit, and train precinct chairs who can identify, persuade, and turn out conservative minded voters. It will take focus from the top, organizational ability, and sustained effort to go into such precincts and identify enthusiastic Republicans and recruit them as precinct chairs. I can and will do that.
This is important because whatever 12-year incumbent Woodfill does is hurting our Party and losing our cause. For example, Democrats won 14 of 23 district judicial races in 2012 by an average of under 6,340 votes. That’s fewer than 6 votes per precinct – and fewer than 11 votes in each currently vacant precinct. We can win such races by turning out more voters in precincts where we have chairs, and by recruiting and training precinct chairs where we have none today. The Fort Bend County Republican Party under Mike Gibson is showing how it can be done. I can and will do that.
You also write that you “know that many of Paul’s advisors are urging him to drop social conservatives from the mix.” That’s news to me, because it’s just wrong. To the contrary, I’m grateful for the support of known social conservatives such as George Strake, Jr., and Maria Espinoza, who have endorsed our campaign. If someone advised me to drop social conservatives, I would tell him he was mistaken, as I have said to any who actually ask me instead of repeating mistruths and rumor spread by our opposition. In fact, if I were to drop social conservatives, I would have to drop out of the race, because I am myself a social conservative. I’m pro-life, always have been, and a whispered smear campaign will not change that fact.
Social conservative principles are essential tenets of our Party, our platform, and our beliefs. Social conservatives give our Party conscience, and heart. As a lifelong Catholic, I believe in my church’s teachings on such issues, including life and marriage. The Republican Party must remain the pro-life party, as that is the correct, and truly compassionate, position. And it is not conservative to toss out institutions that have endured for centuries, including traditional marriage.
Your post also asks about Party finances. The Party could hardly do worse: it is over 80% funded by its own candidates. The County Party must stop being a mouth, and become a helping hand to its candidates. But the Party long ago lost trust of the business community that could help fund it. The 12-year incumbent Chairman who was sued by a New York hedge fund for defaulting on millions of dollars in debt that had financed some 400 plaintiffs’ personal injury lawsuits he had drummed up against a Texas company in Somerville – who has never allowed outside audits of the Party’s books – who will not adopt budgets – who relies on cronyism to spend Party money – cannot win back the business community’s trust. Our candidates and activists deserve better. Outside audits, bidding for expenditures, and ending cronyism are essential to bringing our donors back, to win elections for our cause. I can and will do all of that.
As I have done on the grassroots side, the proof is in the pudding, because doing is better than talking. I have chaired a school board that raised millions of dollars with audits and budgets. My campaign’s last two finance reports show we already raised $163,845.69 from over 125 donors. We did that by bringing together the business community and the grassroots. As County Chair, I will continue to do so, so our Republican candidates do not have to fund Party operations. I can and will do that.
The 12-year incumbent would like to make this race about anything other than the current state of the Harris County Republican Party. If it turned on spin, he could win. But spin cannot change the facts. Despite all his talk, we have been losing Harris County to the Democrats, including close races we should be winning.
I am not running for County Chair to talk. I am running to restore independence and integrity to the Party, to once again make Harris County a Republican stronghold. Thanks for the opportunity to respond. See you on the trail.
Candidate for Harris County Republican Party Chair