The filing deadline has passed and we have some interesting primary races in the Harris County Republican Party. I’ll take a look at them one by one, starting with the race to see who leads the party. Incumbent Chair Paul Simpson is being challenged by long-time grassroots activist Keith Nielsen.
I’m not sure why Paul is running again, it’s a thankless job that requires almost full time hours and pulls you away from your family and paying job. I’m not sure why Keith is running either. But I suppose someone has to do it, right?
The biggest complaint that I hear about Paul is that Republicans have been wiped out in the last two elections. If you blame Paul for that, then no amount of logic is going to change your mind. If that is you, then Keith is a great alternative for you. He’s energetic, passionate, outgoing and is willing to work with anyone.
But is it Paul’s fault that Republicans were wiped out? What are the duties of a party chair? Do changes in the demographics of the county matter?
No, it is not the chair’s fault that Republicans were wiped out. The job of the chair is to organize the party and Paul has done that quite well. In fact, I have never seen the party better organized, managed and financially sound. And I think any objective person would agree with that. The staff is very professional, active and responsive to precinct chairs. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the new Vice-Chair, Dana Myers. The committees are active and functioning, which has not always been the case.
We’ve known for years that changes in the demographics of the county would affect Republicans, which is one reason we advocated for changes in the way the party was being run. And under Paul’s leadership in 2014, we had a countywide sweep, don’t forget about that. Most people thought we had until 2022 or even 2024 before losing the county. But along came Donald Trump in 2016 and Beto in 2018 and the process speed up. Paul Simpson had nothing to do with that and you are fooling yourself if you believe otherwise.
One of the latest criticisms of Paul is that we do not have a full slate of Republican judicial candidates. They say that Paul didn’t do enough outreach and didn’t hold a traditional petition signing party. They are wrong, as usual. Here is a list of the outreach the party did to try and attract quality candidates via Genevieve Carter, HCRP Communications Director.
Wednesday, July 24
Judicial Candidate Orientation Session
Hosted by HCRP. Our Judicial Screening Committee was also involved. The panel included Supreme Court Justice Jeff Boyd, as well as RPT/SREC/TRCCA recruiter Cat Parks. (We have a testimonial from her saying it was the best recruiting effort in the state of Texas.) Facebook link
- We worked with RPT on recruiting candidates to attend the orientation session.
- Worked with Leadership Institute and our HCRP Candidates Committee to help organize candidate trainings to encourage and give candidates more tools and resources.
- We sent mass text messages to our network encouraging/asking people to run for office.
- General feedback we received early from candidates and their campaigns was that they did not want to pay for a big signing party, as done in the past, that used to cost about $25K, so HCRP planned the other events (listed below).
EFFORTS TO GATHER SIGNATURES:
- Starting in the late summer/fall, we sent continuous emails directly to the judicial candidates to keep them updated on events and opportunities to gather signatures hosted by our Republican clubs and other organizations.
- Sept. 7, HCRP had a judicial signing section with tables available specifically for candidates to gather signatures at our Annual Campaign Kickoff at Cadillac Bar.
- Starting in the spring, HCRP organized monthly happy hours around the County where we invited judicial candidates to bring petitions.
- HCRP blasted emails in November to all Precinct Chairs asking for each to pick up petitions at our offices and gather signatures from their friends and family.
HCRP PETITION SIGNING EVENTS:
- Wednesday, Oct. 2 Joint Happy Hour & Petition Signing Party with HCRP & HYR – Facebook link approx. 50
- Saturday, Nov. 2 2020 Judicial Candidate Petition Signing Party at HCRP HQ Facebook link approx. 250 attendees
- Monday, Nov. 25 CD-7 Precinct Chair Candidate Forum at HCRP approx. 60 attendees
- Sunday, Dec. 1 HCRP Glorious Way Church Petition Signing Event Northwest Houston area approx. 125 attendees
- Tuesday, Dec. 3 HCRP Christmas Party & Judicial Signing Event at Cottonwood (provided a drink ticket for any attendee that signed petitions) Facebook event approx. 125 attendees
- Thursday, Dec. 5 HCRP Kingwood Holiday Happy Hour & Judicial Signing Event approx. 25 attendees
Also, she pointed out that no candidate failed to file due to a lack of petition signatures and that several candidates had over 1,200 signatures. The bottom line is that the party had its best ever organized recruitment process and it isn’t the chair’s fault that candidates do not want to be identified as Republicans or want to be on the same ballot as Donald Trump.
We know what needs to happen for Republicans to win again in Harris County. We first have to stop being the party of old white folks. We have to start being the party of inclusion. We have to return to Ronald Reagan’s mantra of “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally”. We have to identify and groom young conservatives of all colors, faiths, LGBT, and any other person that agrees with us 80% of the time.
If we know what to do, then why aren’t we doing it? Selfishness and perceived power and entitlement. A recent example is the mess that Josh Flynn created at the HCDE (click here for more). All in the name of personal ambition and entitlement. We already had two young, dynamic candidates in that race but hey, my daddy is a rep, I’m a white male, get out of my way. And that district screams for a young, dynamic conservative that isn’t a white male.
The old time power brokers are all old, white males and do not want to cede any of their perceived influence and now one of them is now donating to newly elected Democrat judges even as he rails against Paul’s leadership. Yes, Gary Polland, I saw the $1,000 you donated to Judge Natalia Oakes and the $750 you donated to Judge Michelle Moore. Our consultant base only knew how to win primaries and not general elections. Consultants with fresh ideas and experience winning in purple districts are ignored. In short it is a mess.
The current chair, Paul Simpson, is already working to address every issue I pointed out, as well as having the party’s finances in the best shape ever. Before you make an emotional choice, become informed on the issues.