Paul Simpson, Jared Woodfill at the TARC

I started to call this one the massacre at the Texas Asian Republican Caucus forum but it isn’t SEO friendly.

By all accounts, the Paul Simpson campaign for Harris County Republican Party Chair has the money and momentum to win the race. The amount of money he’s raised, over $160,000, is astonishing for a position that doesn’t pay a dime. Dick Weekly has helped him get the endorsement of Michael Berry. Life is good for the campaign.

Paul Simpson speaks as Jared Woodfill looks on.
Paul Simpson speaks as Jared Woodfill looks on.

With all of those positives, why has my day sucked? Because I knew I was going to have to tell you about the forum that I attended last night. My problem isn’t simply that Jared Woodfill crushed Paul in the “debate” – no, that would have been easy to brush off because from what I hear, that is routine when the two meet. And even though the communications part of the job is at least as big as the rest of the job, I had decided that Paul would be “good enough” to get the job done because he would be so much better at the rest of it.

Here is a little context for the rest of this. The forum was held directly after a forum that featured two candidates for HD149 trying to defeat Democrat Hubert Vo – Nghi Ho and Al Hoang. The room was full of people that were probably getting their first glimpse at the leadership of the party. You want outreach? You didn’t need to reach far because those who the party needs to “reach out to” were sitting next to us. So what does Paul do?

He started off with a personal attack on Jared and kept it up until the end. It is one thing to make a sharp contrast between yourself and your opponent on issues that affect the party. It is quite another to come across as a mean, desperate man by repeatedly making personal attacks. Even when Jared tried to give him an opportunity to lighten up by asking a silly question, Paul couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. Other than Paul’s true blue supporters, no one in the room was comfortable. Especially those people that need to be “outreached” to – they looked like they were in a torture chamber. What kind of outreach are we in for?

Perhaps the strangest thing about the very strange night was watching Paul make my little buddy Terry Lowry look like the saint he ain’t. You want “pay-to-play” removed from the party? You’d better not stand in front of a group of people and tell them that you tried to pay money to affect the content that Terry Lowry produces. That is exactly what Paul did last night.

Watch this video with both candidates answering questions about “pay-to-play”:

Watch it again because we’re going to talk about it. I’ll wait.

Okay, now that you have a good memory of what the candidates said, let’s look at a couple of points.

Paul may not think that Jared is a good attorney but Jared ate his lunch on that question. Hypocrisy, thy name is Paul Simpson says Jared. Now you might say, no, you’re blowing this out of proportion. No, I am not. Think about what Paul said.

“The pay to play slates are a cancer on the Harris County Republican Party.”

Is that right? Hmm. Listen to what Paul said on the Terry Lowry What’s Up Radio Program.

As you well know there are people out there that take issue with your system – that’s their fight.

Well, which is it Paul? I’ve been fighting these slates for seven years – I guess it is my fight and not yours. Jared was absolutely right to call out Paul’s hypocrisy – you can’t pay them and then knock them when they don’t endorse you.

Jared then points out that Paul wrote a check for $10,000 this cycle. Paul jumps up and says he only wrote a check for $5,000. Paul is correct but this note is included in his campaign finance report:

Initial (50%) payment for full page ad in March 2014 Link Letter

Clearly the commitment was for $10,000, which is why Jared used $10,000.

More from Paul  in the video:

I sat down with him, said I’m interested in an ad, will you endorse my opponent? That’s all I asked. He assured me he would not. I wrote a $5,000 check to him. The party, the party, gave Mr. Lowry $5,000. Then Mr. Lowry endorsed Mr. Woodfill. He either lied to me or broke his word.

Okay, so Lowry broke his word. Or lied. But let’s listen to what Paul said in that January 8th show on Terry Lowry’s radio program:

I’ll buy an ad from you and I don’t know what you’re gonna do in my race, that’s the way it is.

Lowry then gives out Paul’s website and stresses that he has not endorsed in the race but never one time says anything to the effect that he isn’t going to skip the race. So which is it? Did Paul demand that Lowry not endorse anyone before he would buy an ad or did he buy an ad not knowing or caring who Lowry was going to endorse? I asked Paul to help me reconcile the discrepancy and he says there is no discrepancy and sent me this:

I asked Terry Lowry in December if he had decided what he was going to do in the County Chair race.  I told him we would not buy an ad in his LinkLetter if it also carried his endorsement of an opponent, because such an ad would be a waste of money.

He then said that he was not going to endorse any of my opponents.  I told him that, on that basis, I would buy an ad, and paid half the total ad price. 

I did not ask or know what he was going to do in the race – i.e., if he would endorse me or stay out of the race entirely.

The next month, he informed me that he was endorsing Jared Woodfill.

So, he either lied to me upfront that he had decided not to endorse any opponents, or he later broke his word. 

My campaign has not funded the second half of the anticipated ad payment.

I’m not an attorney and perhaps an attorney would say, okay, that is a good explanation. But this line really sticks out:

I did not ask or know what he was going to do in the race – i.e., if he would endorse me or stay out of the race entirely.

No, what Paul did was to tell Lowry, look, little fella, I’ll pay you but you can’t endorse Woodfill, okay? Deal?

That doesn’t cut it with me. What is the difference between someone sticking out their hand and saying “give me some money and I’ll endorse you”  and someone walking up to you with $10,000 in their hand and saying “I’ll give you some money if you either endorse me or go away without mentioning my race at all”?

Tell me, what is the difference? Paul clearly admitted to paying for an ad conditioned on confirming what the content of the endorsements would be. This is very different from someone like Gary Polland that gives candidates the option of canceling their ads and getting a refund if he doesn’t endorse them. Lowry made clear in that interview that the ad is completely separate from the endorsement.

Back to the suitability of Paul as spokesperson of the party, which is at least half the job. Take a look at another portion of last night’s forum – listen to the tone, watch the body language, and ask yourself about “outreach”.

Refusing to have a little light hearted fun in front of people getting their first experience with party leadership? Questioning Jared’s commitment to the pro-life movement? Are you kidding me?

Look, I know I’m going to get a lot of grief for writing this. I get it, a lot of people are fired up about finally making some changes to the party. And after fighting this fight far longer than most of those that are going to criticize me, it would be easy for me to overlook stuff like this and just be glad that change is coming. But as a conservative person by nature, I’m wary of change for change’s sake. Sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. Jared is not perfect but he doesn’t say one thing to one group and another to a different group. And I’ve never heard a peep that Jared would wave money in front of someone in order to affect the outcome of their content.

The party desperately needs to change the way it treats people that don’t pass purity tests put in place by the leadership so that more people are willing to participate. There is no question about. The question is what kind of change will Paul really bring? Are we switching one insider group for another? If so, who is in the new insider group? Why does Paul refuse to name the leadership team that he will put in place?

Now I don’t know who I’m going to vote for and that is as much a shock to me as it is to you. But my concern is not for Jared or Paul – it is for the future of the party that I think has the best ideas and principles to keep Harris County, Texas, and the nation prosperous.


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  1. Karen says

    Let me just say upfront that I am obviously a Simpson supporter. I would also add that I am the wife of a fairly new Precinct Chair, who has experienced first hand the lack of support, leadership, and training from our current Harris County GOP Chair. In fact, my husband was mentored by none other than Paul Simpson on how to be a good Precinct Chair, not Jared Woodfill. There was no Precinct Chair training for a total of 3 years and at a time when our country is in such a turmoil and with Battleground Texas working to turn Texas blue. In regards to your summary of the debate, all I can say is you really do make things so complicated. What Paul said was that he talked to Lowry, and Lowry assured him that he would not be making any endorsements in the Harris County GOP Chair race. In that spirit, Paul paid for an ad in his publication. Things quickly changed however when Clint Moore and David Riddle started a chain of emails exhorting Cathy Adams to fire Houston Eagle Forum Maria Espinoza because of her endorsement of Paul Simpson. As Clint Moore said: ” I told Cathie to get with Jeff Yates and see what she could do for Jared to counter this, especially since Simpson’s message line above, called Maria the “Eagle Forum President”, with no Houston mention. I also told her that in the end, she should consider replacing Maria, since she has burned her own reputation with social conservatives in Harris County for good, as a result of her grossly enthusiastic quote supporting Simpson.” As you said in your own blog, David Riddle then forwards Clint Moore’s email to Terry Lowry, who then breaks his word and endorses Jared Woodfill. FYI, Maria Espinoza, at the bequest of Jared’s henchmen, has indeed been fired by Cathy Adams. If you are okay with that, then that says a lot about you. Your own blog on the chain of events, in case you have forgotten: At the end of the day, are you in favor of showmanship at the expense of integrity? Are you okay with people wielding their power to have people fired? Are you okay with a Chairman who promotes certain Republican primary candidates over others when he is supposed to stay neutral in the races and provide support for all candidates? Are you okay with the party paying an exorbitant amount of money for signing parties where only incumbent Republican Judges are allowed to participate? Are you okay with the Chairman of a Party, who then makes money off appointments by the very Judges he unfairly supported in the primaries? Is that the type of party you are in favor of? For my part, I will take integrity and honesty any day over the machinations of the “power brokers” who want to control the party at all costs. Its time for a new day in the Harris County Republican Party.

  2. Jorge says

    I tried to give both candidates a chance but Jared contradicted himself in his opening statement when he said republicans shouldn’t attack other republicans yet Jared attacked Sarah Davis

  3. Analyst says

    For everyone running for office in Harris County, even if they despise the slates, the reality is they have to engage them. It’s like living in a banana Republic. While Jared is part of the dictator’s ministry with nothing to fear, other candidates like Paul have to negotiate some peace when possible. Here, based on what he said, it was in an attempt to simply level the playing field, agreeing to buy an ad if the publication agreed not to turn around and editorialize against its advertizer. Would you buy an ad for your business in a publication that turned around and told readers to buy from your competitor, rather just led both parties buy ads? Sounds like that is what Paul was trying to do, saying I’ll buy an ad like others – just let it be. Some cancers cannot be immediately eradicated and thus first have to be managed. While Paul is a principled conservative, he is also a pragmatic strategist – and we need that kind of principle, aided when needed by pragmatism, for our party to win.

  4. Marty says

    Big Jolly – you were once a truly interesting outside voice. Unfortunately, you have now become enamored of your own PR and persona. And as you have become more and more a part of Jared’s powers that be (anointed precinct chairman), you have become far less interesting and just another voice for the status quo. Too bad. Really. Too, too bad. Another one coopted by the ” our side or get out” crowd.

    • David Jennings says

      Marty, since you can’t get a basic fact straight (I was not appointed precinct chair), I’ll let others decide if your comment has any truth at all in it. DJ

  5. Sharon Roberts says

    I have to give you credit for posting a somewhat “painful” report on this debate. It was a surprise to me that Jared clearly won this discussion. Changes are very much needed in the party, but what will you be getting? That is a tough question.

  6. says

    Two years ago I ran for City Council in District G against another Republican. My opponent supported the Drainage Fee and even used his City Council webpage to promote it. He bought all the right endorsements
    from the pay for play slates and Jared endorsed him. Not sure if Jared was paid or not for his endorsement but he told the leaders of the Coalition for a Greater Houston that he would not endorse in City races if there
    were two or more Republicans involved. This was not the first time Jared endorsed in races with two or more Republican candidates. Don’t know if I will ever run again but if and when I do, I would expect the Party Chair to remain neutral.

  7. says

    Yeoman work by Big Jolly and a balanced report with interesting ideas about the party and it’s future. Clearly Paul doesn’t have the right stuff to lead the party and equally clear is that all of us need to work together to build our party that will be successful not just this year but in the future. Gary Polland

    • David Jennings says

      Marty, nor was I “anointed”. I filed my paperwork to run in the primary just like everyone else. Get it right, then we’ll talk.

  8. Buffie Ingersoll says

    WOW…I can’t believe you took this one issue and ignored EVEYTHING ELSE that was discussed in the debate. Woodfill sounded like a slick- talkin’ Obama, look at all the things I have planned….well, why didn’t you do some of these things over the last 12 years? Harris County Republican Party has half the number of precinct chairs than 20 years ago. Hard working qualified people have been turned away when applied for the position because Woodfills administration did not agree with 100% of their answers And he says we should “all work together” How much work has he done with the Harris County Republican Womens clubs?, TFRW?. Young Republicans? Simpson stated a plan to raise money (and he has done well so far), grow the party and empower the grassroots. He is supported by the Tea Party, Pro lifers, Pro choicers, and business leaders . He has created a large group of grassroots workers to follow him and a computer system Woodfill is still talking about bringing out. He has been a leader in the fight against the Pay- for- Play slates. I wish he had asked Woodfill how much money had been given to the pay for play slates in his (Woodfills) honor by Blakemore.I am a believer in term limits, especially when the party is suffering in growth, fundraising and winning offices.

    • David Jennings says


      I focused on that portion of the “debate” because Paul Simpson publicly stated that he tried to pay Terry Lowry not to endorse Jared Woodfill. Not only is that its own form of “pay-to-play” it directly contradicts Paul’s own words on Lowry’s radio station, also noted above. If that isn’t a problem for you, then so be it.

      You say that Paul “has been a leader in the fight against the Pay- for- Play slates” – an assertion that Paul made in the “debate” that is also directly contradicted by Paul’s own words. If that isn’t a problem for you, so be it.

      As you note, Paul has stated that he wants to “empower the grassroots” yet he refuses to name the people he will appoint to positions of power in the party. Since each of these positions are volunteer posts, there is no reason that he cannot tell us who will be in charge. If that isn’t a problem for you, so be it.

      I’ve attacked Jared, his inadequacies as a leader, the inordinate amount of influence on the party from SD7, and the pay-to-play slate system longer and louder than anyone. But that doesn’t change the fact that each of the issues above is troubling to me.



  9. Silent Archer says

    “I sat down with him, said I’m interested in an ad, will you endorse my opponent?” — that certainly sounds to me like an educated consumer doing his “product research” to verify that the “product” he’s about to plunk down $10,000 for (in this case, an ad) will actually meet his needs.

    What’s the point in buying a product that you already know up front isn’t going to meet your needs? What’s the point in buying an ad in a publication that you already know up front is going to endorse your opponent? How many people can afford to waste money $10,000 at a time on products that don’t work? “Not I!” said the cat.

    • David Jennings says

      Silent Archer,

      Your argument is true in most business situations. This is not one of them. In the context of the “fight” to rid the party of the “cancer” as Paul Simpson called the pay-to-play slates, making your own offer of pay-to-play doesn’t compute. Regardless of which Paul Simpson story you believe, giving money to Lowry only exacerbates the problem.

      If all of the cats said “Not I!”, the slates would go away. Unfortunately, Paul Simpson did not do that.


  10. Silent Archer says

    You yourself said, “After all, their guys win! If we want to win, we have to play along” ( Except that Paul didn’t buy an ad with the intention or expectation of getting an endorsement (which is what pay-to-play is). This might be more accurately described as “pay to not play.”

    If all of the candidates did that, there wouldn’t be any endorsements in those publications, just ads. And isn’t that ultimately what you want? For these guys to not be making endorsements that have disproportionate outcomes in the corresponding races?

    Hmm, if the slate guys are smart, they would publish two rate sheets before each election. One set of rates for “if you pay me this amount, I’ll endorse you.” Another set of rates for “If you pay me this higher amount (or an opponent also pays me the other lower amount) I won’t endorse in your race.” Not going to happen.

  11. Tom Zakes says

    I have heard that leaders lead, regardless what position they are placed in.
    If Paul Simpson deserves to be a leader, there should be something somewhere that backs up his claim.
    If charity begins at home, then the numbers in his home precinct should show the results of his work.
    Obviously, Simpson has not been in charge of the county party, but there was nothing stopping him from working with his neighbors, as we all have been encouraged to do
    What has happened down through the years, comparing similar races and statistics in successive elections?
    I pulled the canvass and compared Simpson’s precinct to my own, as well as Harris County overall.

    In the successive gubernatorial election years of 2006 and 2010, Simpson’s precinct went from 195 to 371 in straight R voting, with percentages going from 34 to 46.
    Mine went from 144 to 357, with percentages going from 61 to 86. The county went from 137,663 to 290,355, and percentages went from 48.04 to 54.33.

    The vote for Rick Perry in those years for Simpson went from 347 to 513, with the percentages going from 34 to 35.
    But in my precinct, the numbers went from 218 to 492, and the percentages went from 63 to 69.
    County-wide numbers went from 215,150 to 379,516, with the percentage going from 36.51 to 48.15.

    The low Republican race in 2006 was Don Willett on the Supreme Court. The low race in 2010 was Dan Hinde for the 269th.
    In Simpson’s precinct, those numbers went from 476 to 580, and the percentages went from 37 to 42.
    In my precinct, they went from 335 to 534, and the percentages from 60 to 73.
    County-wide, they went from 275,807 to 407,912 and the percentages from 48.84 to 53.87.

    Comparing what happened in 2008 and 2012 shows Simpson’s precinct going from 363 to 430 in straight R voting, with the percentages going from 41 to 49.
    In my precinct, straight R voting went from 448 to 460, with the percentage going from 68 to 71.
    County wide, it went from 343,919 to 404,165, and the percentage went from 46.51 to 49.43.

    In the presidential race, the comparison of McCain and Romney was 728 to 773 in Simpson’s precinct, with percentages going from 41 to 43.
    In my precinct, the numbers went from 893 to 757, and percentages from 75 to 73.
    County-wide, the vote went from 571,883 to 586,073, and the percentages went from 48.82 to 49.31.

    The low Republican race for 2012 was Louis Guthrie running for Sheriff.
    Comparing those results to Tommy Thomas in 2008, showed Simpson’s precinct going from 674 to 646, with the percentage going from 37 to 39.
    In my precinct, the numbers went from 736 to 660, and the percentage went from 63 to 65.
    County-wide, they went from 495,246 to 523,309, and the percentage went from 43.7 to 45.2.

    What does this show?
    Certainly there was improvement in Simpson’s precinct, but there also was in the county.
    Out of those 6 races, the only ones where Simpson’s precinct out paced both my precinct and the county were in Romney and straight R voting from 2008 to 2012.
    If you want “change for the sake of change,” remember how well that worked with Bill Clinton?
    But if you want someone who can be a leader and improve what the party has been doing under Woodfill, the numbers aren’t there for Simpson.

    I’m Tom Zakes and I approve this message.

    • Erich says

      Yes, it’s true. Paul, like a lot of Republicans, lives in a precinct that the Democrats consistently win. But what you didn’t mention is that, in Paul’s last four years as precinct chair from 2006 to 2010, his team increased Republican vote share in that Democrat precinct by 138%, substantially outperforming Harris County overall.

      If you want to compare precincts, maybe a better measuring stick would be to compare how both candidates’ home precincts voted in the 2012 primary.

      How did voters who know the candidates best vote in the County Chair race in 2012?

      Paul Simpson’s home precinct:
      Paul Simpson – 73%
      Jared Woodfill – 27%

      Jared Woodfill’s home precinct:
      Paul Simpson – 51%
      Jared Woodfill – 49%

      Now that that’s out of the way, we can return to the important issue of restoring and rebuilding the Republican Party in Harris County and beating the Democrats in November.

  12. Mainstream says

    I am mystified by Tom Zakes analysis. Paul Simpson lives next to Rice University and the medical center, with large numbers of young, urban voters moving in, and a huge turnover in population from year to year. Zakes, if I recall correctly is in Channelview, and I have no idea of the demographics or stability of the population there. I just cannot see how you can challenge someone by arguing about the results in an individual precinct without having a control precinct, of similar age and education structure, in which you know that there was no active effort to educate or turn out voters. I know Paul has worked to get out signs in his area, has held coffees for candidates in his home, has block-walked his precinct, because I have worked on many of the same campaigns, especially for Martha Wong.

  13. Karen says

    Paul has been in the trenches, working with grassroots activists, mentoring new Precinct Chairs, developing the Precinct Manager Tool (over 3 years ago), working with Republican candidates to help get them elected, working with lots of different Republican groups, within all demographics of the city. Jared seems like a nice guy, but I have not seen him on any of the block walks, or many of the grassroots activities I’ve been involved with over the last several years. David, sorry you’re so troubled that Paul bought an ad in a publication that goes out to thousands of Republican voters. Sorry you have a problem with him asking Lowry ahead of time whether he planned to endorse Jared (before he made the decision to buy an ad). If you are brilliant enough to buy an ad with someone who plans to endorse your opponent, then maybe its a good thing you’ve decided to stay out of running for a higher office than Precinct Chair.

    • David Jennings says

      Gee thanks Karen. Disagree with me, so you decide to hate on me, eh? Whatever. I guess you missed the part where Paul told Terry Lowry that he didn’t care who he endorsed, he was buying an ad and that pay-to-play was someone else’s fight, not Paul’s. Yeah, I guess you missed that.

  14. Tom Zakes says

    Sorry Mainstream, but I chose my precinct because it is my precinct.

    I know it because since I moved here, I’ve worked it.

    I’ve done mail, block walking, and events, all using resources I got from HCRP.

    I’d be happy to pull your numbers, but I looked for “Mainstream” in the voter registration database and you must have opted for non-disclosure.

    Rice U control numbers won’t work for Harris County, because Harris County is diverse.

    That’s why I looked at improvement, not a snapshot of what percentages were in a particular year.

    My point is that even if you are not party chair, you can still work to help the party and candidates.

    If you lose, don’t take your marbles and go home.

    I’m Tom Zakes and I approve this message.

  15. GoldBacon says

    This situation is akin to the Hunger Games. You might not want to shoot the other contestants, but at the end only one of you can walk out of the arena alive. Such is pay-to-play (P2P) Harris County. The current system of paid endorsements is an abomination, but in order to win this race you have to take part. Paul ran a great campaign in 2012 and lost largely because old people (like my dad!) take the Stink Letter with them into the voting booth and vote thusly.

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