Heck of a title, eh? Coming from me, I mean. After all of the criticism I’ve leveled at Harris County Republican Party Chair Jared Woodfill through the years, why on earth would I support his re-election? Frankly, after a week of pulling myself in all directions contemplating my vote, writing this post is really very easy because it comes down to one thing: I think that Jared Woodfill the best candidate on the ballot this year. And even though my public support for him will come with much hatred and vitriol from his opponent’s supporters, theshibbolethin the BJP logo means what it says.
As I’ve written many times, there are two parts to the job of HCRP chairperson. One is communication, the other is organization. Because of the structure of the organization, I think that the communication part of the job is the most critical and thus give more weight to it when comparing the candidates. And as I’ve also written many times, I think that Jared excels at representing the party and its ideals to the public. Those ideals are not popular with the mainstream press but Jared is able to defend the party’s positions without coming across as mean spirited or petty. I shudder to think what would happen if we had a messenger that did not have the ability to do that. And in this specific race, against this specific opponent, the difference between the two men in their ability to articulate the party’s positions couldn’t be clearer.
As to the organization side, I think that Jared has allowed one geographic area of the party to dominate the discussion. But Jared didn’t do that alone and it is far more complex than simply pointing to those in leadership and complaining about the lack of representation from other areas. The precinct chairs in other areas must acknowledge and accept that they could have just as much power if they worked as hard. In fact, we are seeing the precinct chairs from other areas now working just as hard and that is one of the sources of tension in the party. Transitions of power are never easy and as other areas of Harris County gain more forceful precinct chairs and begin to grow in influence in the HCRP, the Northwest side is going to see their influence wane. That is actually a very good development for the party and whomever the chair is will not be able to change that dynamic. We will become more diverse because Harris County is too diverse to let one demographic or geographic area dominate it.
As for “pay-to-play”, no one has written more about it and been more vocal about it than me. And although the slates started shortly before Jared took over, it is true that the system flourished while he has been chair. But the development of this system has been organic and is driven not by Jared but by the success that three slates have had. Their success comes from their own hard work and intelligence in targeting specific voters and from overall voter apathy.
I am very happy that more voters are taking notice of this for-profit system and that we are closer to reaching a critical mass as far as reducing the power and influence that three slates have had on the party. You know exactly what I mean if you have been opening your mailbox or reading the Endorsement Matrix. Diluting their market share while at the same time continuing to hammer home the fact that candidates pay for these “ads” will, I think, result in a more level playing field over time and reduce the influence of the “Big 3”.
The whole fight about “pay-to-play” and Jared’s challenger making it an issue and pretending that he has been on the front lines of the fight has really turned me away from his campaign. In his own words, on January 8th of this year, less than eight weeks before voting, Paul Simpson told one of the “Big 3”, Terry Lowry, that “pay-to-play” wasn’t his fight. Here is his exact quote:
As you well know there are people out there that take issue with your system – that’s their fight.
And in the same interview, Paul Simpson said:
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.
Click here to read more about that.Not only did he say those things, he entered into an agreement with Lowry to purchase a $10,000 ad, paying $5,000 up front and promising another $5,000 later. Then he reneged on the second half of the payment after Lowry endorsed Jared. In less than two years, Simpson has paid Terry Lowry $16,575, not counting the $5,000 he reneged on:
It is blatant hypocrisy to claim that you are the one to end the pay-to-play system when you say publicly that it is not your fight and you have been and continue to be a player in it, as recently as two months ago. It is the equivalent of a gambler putting down his money to win a big prize, losing the bet, and then campaigning against gambling.
Another area that Jared has pointed out about Paul is that he refused to pitch in and help after the first fight for chair we had in 2010. Paul and his supporters deflect this by saying that he worked on his own, with campaigns and in developing precinct chair tools outside the party. Well, that is all well and good but it simply illustrates Paul’s way of thinking – if I can’t get my way, I’ll go somewhere else. You see it in the Lowry quotes above and I personally experienced it in 2010 when Paul took his ball and went home, refusing to help the Ed Hubbard campaign in the runoff with Jared. If Paul really thought that Jared was bad for the party, why would he do that? Perhaps so that he could run again in 2012 and 2014? Folks, this is a volunteer, unpaid position that needs someone that is a team player, someone willing to work for the good of all, even if it means your ambition must be throttled.
Like I said at the start of this post, I get that I’ll be roasted by Paul’s supporters. And if Paul wins, I’ll be shut out and his administration will not be friendly towards me or BJP. That’s not really a loss because I’m already shut out and voting for Jared Woodfill isn’t going to change that. But it would by hypocritical on my own part if I went into a voting booth and voted for Jared Woodfill without telling you about it and why.
So, I’ll be voting for Jared and I think that if you isolate yourself from the rhetoric and make a calm, rational decision, you too will come to the conclusion that Jared Woodfill is the best candidate to move the party forward in this election. And I’ll still be here criticizing him when I think he needs to be criticized, and helping him understand that the party must become more diverse if we are to maintain our influence and make a difference for our grandchildren.