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June 30, 2006

CD22 Precinct Chairs Pick Haigler

Republican precinct chairs from the Harris County protion of CD22 met to pick our representative to the Congressional District Executive Committee that wil (hopefully) meet to select a candidate to replace Tom DeLay on the November ballot. As one of the participants in the meeting, I have got to comment on the Chronicle's coverage of the meeting.

Despite a continuing legal dispute over the process, Harris County Republicans chose on Thursday their representative on the committee that will select a nominee to replace former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

"Why wouldn't we proceed if time is of the essence?" asked Harris County Republican Party Chair Jared Woodfill. "Given the fact that the election is approaching, it's important we do everything as quickly as possible within the confines of the law."

And the reality is that there is absolutely noting in the law which prevented us from acting tonight. The TRO the Democrats obtained a couple of weeks ago expired last week, and so we were legally free to act. Yes, there are still questions about what the federal court will do (and what will happen regarding the appeals that will no doubt follow), but no one is adversely impacted by this gathering. At worst, it was all wasted motion on our part.

We all began gathering at about 6:00 at the courthouse in Webster, not far from the Johnson Space Center. By the time we began the meeting, we actually had an amazing 41 our of 45 precinct chairs in attendance -- a phenomenal rate that will likely never be duplicated for any gathering of precinct chairs in the county. After a little tussle over the agenda -- some of us wanted to include a straw poll to publicly express the sense of the body on who the candidate should be even though it would be binding, but were defeated -- we headed straight into the election of our representative.

We had two candidates seeking the position, Kathy Haigler and Steve Williams. While Kathy is a charming lady and has been my friend for as long as i have been active in the Harris County GOP, I was backing Steve. Why? Not just because I consider him to be a man of great integrity and keen insight, but because I preferred more of a grassroots candidate and felt that having an SREC member as our delegate smacked of insider politics and created the appearance of a conflict-of-interest since the SREC will pick the candidate if the District Executive Committee should fail to do so (which is quite unlikely, I'll concede).

Votes were cast, and I was appointed by Steve to serve as his observer as teh votes were counted. I was. . . disappointed by the margin of victory, as i expected it to be relatively close.

Harris County Republicans selected Kathy Haigler, a precinct chair in Deer Park who is on the State Republican Executive Committee, as their committee representative.

She has not stated a preference among at least nine Republicans seeking the nomination.

Or at least not publicly -- Kathy has not really made a secret of her personal preference, but I will respect her decision not to divulge it and refrain from posting it here. Besides, she voluntarily made a public committment to accept the guidance of the precinct chairs on the matter. After the meeting adjourned, Kathy distributed ballots for an unofficial straw poll which allowed us to rank the declared candidates. The ballots will be tabulated at a later date, after the absent chairs have been given the chance to vote as well. We will see what the results will be after the other counties have selected their representatives next week.

Democrats, of course, are spinning away on this one.

Cris Feldman, an attorney for the Democrats, questioned the Harris County party's decision to go forward.

"It would appear not to be the wisest to do, in light of the court's statements," he said. "The court seemed pretty clear that the process wasn't to go forward until a ruling was handed down."

Where I grew up, that is called a lie. By allowing the TRO to expire, Judge Sparks made it pretty clear that it was accptable for the process to go forward. If it wasn't, he would have continued the restraining order until after he had ruled on the case. He didn't, so it was OK. And after all, with Fort Bend not meeting until July 6 and Galveston and Brazoria not doing so until the following night, the earliest a candidate could be selected by the District Executive Committee would be be around July 15 -- a date that almost certainly falls after the date that Judge Slade will decide the case.

One thing which should be noted about the meeting was the level of grassroots support shown by one candidate for the congressional nomination, Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, a local physician. There is strong support for her among the precinct chairs in Harris County, and at least half of the members of the public who came to observe the proceedings were wearing Shelley stickers or shirts. I endorsed her back in April, and I still believe that Shelley has the best chance of winning in November. I just have to hope that the District Executive Committee listens to the voice of the people in this regard.

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Comments on CD22 Precinct Chairs Pick Haigler

That was a great analysis!

What amazed me about the whole process was the fact that it took the entire "SENIOR" entourage of the Harris County executive meeting holders (Local 345) to exclude any chance for the precinct chairs in CD 22 to officer or run their own meeting in this case. I'm not so sure that it wouldn't have turned into a spectacle without their guidance and leadership.

Not to mention at all that the "surprise" (yet genuinely welcome) presense of Tina Benkiser and Robin Armstrong from the State level helped move the process along more efficiently. I am glad they were there, and hope they hang around over the long holiday weekend to participate in the other counties festivities.

It appears that supporting genuine grassroots efforts only applies in certain situations where some of those people believe they are in control and do not need the intimidation factor to sway things their way.

I say good for them! It's about time some people start to fall back into line, and stop causing rifts in the ranks because they believe in something or dissagree with the leadership in this party.

It could be assumed that the Democrats are pleased with the way things are going and this should help make the race for this contested congressional seat an exciting spectacle.

I know I'll have my bucket full of, -ballots-, popcorn ready to go one crispy evening in November to watch the returns come in.

In any event, we should hope the process moves forward, without delay, and should support the outcome regardless.

Wait a minute, did I just have an O'Rielly "pithy" moment here?

"NT"

|| Posted by 30percentbodyfat, June 30, 2006 03:56 AM ||

Frankly, my personal preference would have been for the County leadership to step aside and let the precinct chairs run the meeting, but i believe I understand the reason for not their not doing so.

Given the concern about additional Democrat litigation to prevent the people of CD22 from having a choice in November, they wanted to follow a script that came from the state GOP. I cannot fault them on that concern, though I believe that folks like Sheryl Berg, Larry Tobin Pat Monks, Shari Goldsberry, Lisa Smith, Wade Webster and others could have handled those tasks just fine.

I am also quite sure that Tina and Robin will be making appearances at the other meetings, along with any number of local officials out to provide an imprimatur for the process. I don't know that it is necessary, or that it helps appearances, but i don't find it inappropriate.

In the end we saw happen what often happens to grassroots challenges to an established group -- we lost the battle. That happened in 1976, as i recall, with the Reagan campaign. By 1980, that movement had taken over the party. I don't doubt that from among our number will come a future county chair and perhaps a officeholder or two.

What i'm trying to say is that I believe that we are disappointed, but not defeated, and that this grassroots effort has not hurt the party in the short run and is likely to help the party in the long run.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, June 30, 2006 07:27 AM ||

Oh, and please notice that my listing of talent above includes folks from both sides of this process, and is not intended to exclude anyone. I just thought i should give examples of a half-dozen folks with the talent to lead such a meeting.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, June 30, 2006 07:39 AM ||

My thoughts are below, but I think it is the beginning of the end for Lampson.


http://themarkumreport.blogspot.com/2006/06/harris-county-gop-takes-first-step-to.html

|| Posted by Onzelo Markum, June 30, 2006 06:59 PM ||
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