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June 26, 2014

Is Opposition To Houston Same Sex Ordinance Part Of A Greater Scheme By Jared Woodfill?

I'll be honest -- I oppose the so-called "human rights ordinance" because it violates the human rights of a lot of Houstonians by expropriating their property for government purposes without compensation and requires them to act contrary to their religious beliefs because the Empress Julia Caesar (AKA Mayor Annise Parker) demands that they burn incense at the rainbow-strewn altar of political correctness. But I don't like some of the possible implications and outcomes of the repeal effort that is being led by former Harris County Republican Party chairman Jared Woodfill.

The other day, I noted the following over at one of the site of one of our local left-wing bloggers.

I agree that this referendum could be a net-plus for Democrats, but for a different reason than you give. If, in fact, opposition to this ordinance is high in the black and Hispanic communities, the referendum will have the effect of bringing out more black and Hispanic voters to strike it down. But we know that in partisan races these same voters tend to vote Democrat -- meaning that Woodfill's effort could have the effect of striking down the ordinance while increasing the number of Democrat votes in some close legislative and judicial races -- especially the judicial races. Can you talk about a Phyrric victory?

The other thing of note is that Woodfill may recognize this last point and actually like it. After all, this will be the first election after his defeat in the race for county chair, and the Woodfill faction could use the damage they do with the referendum to attack new chair, Paul Simpson. A successful repeal referendum coupled with a bad showing in the partisan races would therefore be a tool to bring back Woodfill as party chair -- or allow him to pick one of his cronies to take on Simpson in 2016.

Yeah, I do think that the timing of the repeal vote is potentially devastating for Republicans. As we saw in 2008 and 2012, an increased turnout by African-American voters in Harris County results in Democrats being elected down ballot. It isn't that Republicans are anti-black -- far from it -- but because African-Americans vote 90% Democrat for a variety of socio-economic reasons (the poorer and less educated you are, the more likely you are to vote Democrat -- and poverty and low educational attainment are chronic problems in the black community). A similar observation can be made regarding the Hispanic community. In order to be successful in repealing the ordinance, Woodfill and his supporters have to turn out folks who are more than likely going to vote for Democrats the rest of the way down the ballot, harming Republican electoral prospects. And that doesn't even get into the issue of ordinance backers working to get their supporters to the polls -- voters who are also more likely to vote Democrat.

Of course, it shortly thereafter hit me that this probably does not upset Woodfill and his supporters. After all, the amount of bitterness left over from this past spring's race for party chair here in Harris County is high. I know that I've been insulted and cursed by Woodfill supporters who I've worked with for years because I backed newly elected chairman Paul Simpson. I've also been told by some of these folks that they are not going to do their usual work on behalf of Republican candidates since their guy lost (never mind that we were always enjoined to come together as a party when their guy won). Are they looking for a possible bonus as a result of the repeal effort -- win or lose -- in the form of a bad election for the Republicans in Harris County as a means of regaining control of the party apparatus in the county? It would not surprise me.

But then I ran across this post.

Woodfill declined to comment on growing speculation that he may be using the issue to position himself as the “conservative choice” for the next chairman of the Texas Republican Party. He stepped down as Harris County Chairman earlier this month after losing to challenger Paul Simpson. Voters in Houston could be forgiven, though, for not noticing Woodfill is no longer chairman given the amount of email blasts he is still sending out regularly about the ordinance. “This isn’t about anybody’s personality,” Woodfill said. “This is about the issue.”

Sorry, I've been involved in politics long enough to know that when a current or former officeholder says "This isn't about anybody's personality," it is usually at least partially about their own personality and ambitions. And given that current state GOP chair Steve Munisteri has indicated he will not serve out his full term and will instead step down sometime after the 2015 legislative session, it would not surprise me to see Jared seeking the post of state chairman. After all, that post will be filled by the State Republican Executive Committee, and Harris County has a disproportionate say on that body due to the number of state senate districts that are clustered in and around Harris County. And assuming that Dan Patrick is our new Lt. Governor, it is likely that Woodfill will have the backing of the most powerful officeholder in the state as well in any bid to become the state chairman.

Now do I think that Jared Woodfill is spearheading this effort because of his personal political ambitions and desire to have a Nixonesque political resurrection? No, I don't -- I believe he is quite sincere in wanting to see the ordinance in question struck down. But I as I've indicated above, I cannot discount the probability that he is preparing to use this effort -- regardless of the outcome -- to accomplish just such a comeback.





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