The “astute” among you will remember a similarly titled post back in July of last year. The key difference is that this time I left off “Party” because the latest episode has more to do with the character, or lack thereof, of individual Republicans in Harris County. Yes, they are part of the party apparatus but in this case, I don’t think that this episode should reflect the character of Harris County Republican Party Chair Jared Woodfill. I realize that some of you may want to attribute the actions of his supporters to him, as that was my first reaction, but in politics, candidates have little control over the backroom activities of their supporters. With that said, let’s look at some of those activities.
As I noted yesterday, Woodfill’s challenger Paul Simpson released an endorsement from Maria Espinoza, President of the Houston Chapter of the Eagle Forum. It was a good move – Simpson’s campaign has been charged with being anti-social conservative and Espinoza is certainly a social conservative.
This brought the lions out. By lions I’m talking about the antithesis of Christian behavior – no, these “Christians” acted like the lions that tore believers of Jesus apart in the arena. Fortunately, State Rep. Patricia Harless was provided a copy of their emails and had the courage to make them public. Thank you, Rep. Harless. I have republished the entire sordid email chain and will comment on it below:
Patricia Harless: I know in the “big picture” of life, stuff like this doesn’t matter but politics in the Harris County Republican party has sunk to an all time low. Two lessons learned here: 1) be careful when you forward a chain email & 2) the “pay for play” republican slates are not a level playing field. I don’t even know what to say about this email.
From: Terry Lowry <[email protected]>
Date: January 15, 2014, 6:45:58 AM CST
To: “‘Simpson, Paul'” <[email protected]>
Cc: ‘Jared Woodfill’ <[email protected]>
Subject: FW: Eagle Forum President Maria Espinoza endorses Simpson for County Chair
Later today I will officially endorse Jared Woodfill for re-election.
From: David Riddle [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 6:31 AM
To: Terry Lowry
Subject: Fwd: Eagle Forum President Maria Espinoza endorses Simpson for County Chair
Good morning Terry, please read this email that Clint wrote. We need your support for Jared now more than ever. I understand he is not the ultimate answer to HCRP but I also know Simpson would be catastrophic to HCRP and would essentially delete all the efforts of the pro life/anti gay movement in Harris county that you have built since the mid 90’s. I will not hound you for your endorsement for Jared because that is your decision, but I wanted to have clear communication as to where I stand on this issue. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
David M. Riddle
Begin forwarded message:
From: “Clint Moore” <[email protected]>
Date: January 14, 2014, 11:35:09 PM CST
To: “Valoree Swanson” “Mark Ramsey “Paul Bettencourt” “Dan Patrick” <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, “Repub – Jared Woodfill” <[email protected]>
Subject: FW: Eagle Forum President Maria Espinoza endorses Simpson for County Chair
Earlier today, I called Cathie Adams to bring to her attention the Paul Simpson email blast today (see below) that announces her Houston Eagle Forum President Maria Espinoza’s endorsement of Simpson. Cathie was horrified, to say the least, especially since Cathie had already strongly endorsed Jared. In the end, 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.
I told her that she should remind her that:
1) Simpson has never been considered a friend or ally of Eagle Forum, or the Republican Party Platform planks on social issues that Eagle Forum fights for.
2) Simpson has consistently worked for decades against Eagle Forum allied candidates and precinct chairs, preferring Rhinos.
3) Simpson has all the support of pro-gay, pro-abort Rhinos, as well as the consistent endorsement of Betsy Lake’s United Republicans and Rhino Ed Emmett
4) Simpson consistently tried to tear down Eagle Forum champion Gary Polland when he was County Chair to the point that Gary fired him as Treasurer, and then has opposed both Gary and Jared in every primary for over almost two decades.
5) Simpson has written ugly emails to several Republican leaders (including me) over the last 20 years, demonstrating he cannot be a unifier.
Above all, we need to ask Terry Lowry to endorse Jared this time. With Simpson getting downtown businessman money to open a Campaign HQ on Wirt Chimney Rock & Longpoint, and having Jennifer Naedler (who is not inexpensive) helping run his campaign, we can’t afford to get overconfident. Weekley, C-Club, et al think they can buy the election with their donations, just like they did with Munisteri. It will be much harder to do with such an inferior candidate as Simpson, and hundreds of thousands of voters in the primary.
From: Simpson for County Chair Campaign [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 1:00 PM
To: Clint Moore
Subject: Eagle Forum President Maria Espinoza endorses Simpson for County Chair
The Paul Simpson for Republican County Chair campaign is
pleased and honored to announced yet another endorsement to our growing list of Conservative Republican officials, leaders, and grassroots activists endorsing Paul Simpson as our next
Harris County Republican party Chair.
Maria Espinoza, President of Eagle Forum-Houston, has announced her support for Paul Simpson for Harris County Republican Party Chair in the upcoming primary:
“Paul is the pro-life conservative who can rebuild the grassroots in Houston, and provide the much-needed conservative leadership.
The kind of leadership that will fight for Family, Faith and Freedom.
There is too much at stake to continue down the same failing path.
That’s why I’m supporting
Paul Simpson for Harris County Republican Party Chair.”
Maria Espinoza, President, Eagle Forum-Houston
Ms. Espinoza joins Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, Former State Party Chair George Strake, and hundreds of Party Leaders, Community Leaders, Business community Leader and Grassroots activists in supporting Paul Simpson for Harris County Republican Party Chair.
Join them and our Republican Grassroots Army
Saturday, January 18, noon-2pm
1739 Wirt Road, Houston Texas 77055 (map)
As you can see, reading from bottom up, it starts off with Simpson’s email touting Espinoza’s endorsement. Then Clint Moore sends off a response in which he calls Cathie Adams for help, calls for Espinoza to be fired (since Moore apparantly has a reading comprehension problem, the press release said Maria Espinoza, President, Eagle Forum-Houston), says untrue things about Paul Simpson, misspells the acronym RINO, misrepresents the episode that resulted in Simpson leaving the Treasurer’s post in the HCRP, begs Terry Lowry to endorse Woodfill in his LinkLetter, and claims Texas Republican Party Chair Steve Munisteri bought his position. One good thing – Jennifer Naedler isn’t cheap. Whew, I would have lost respect for her if she was.
Notice to whom Moore sent his screed – Paul Bettencourt, Dan Patrick, and Jared Woodfill, as well as others in SD7 politics.
Somehow David Riddle (yes, son of Rep. Debbie Riddle) gets a copy of the email and forwards it to Terry Lowry, telling him that if Simpson is elected, it “would essentially delete all the efforts of the pro life/anti gay movement in Harris county that you have built since the mid 90’s.”
Fifteen minutes after Riddle’s email to Lowry, Lowry sends an email to Simpson, copying Woodfill, telling him that he will be endorsing Woodfill. And the Woodfill campaign releases its press release featuring Lowry, Hotze, and Polland the following day.
And this morning, their slander produced more fruit, with a press release from Woodfill’s campaign that Phyllis Schafly, founder and President of the Eagle Forum nationwide, had endorsed Woodfill.
No word yet on their attempt to get Espinoza fired.
When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
If these people are the best that we Harris County Republicans have going for us, perhaps it is time to walk away from the whole mess. Putting the issue of abortion on the same level as that of gay marriage reduces it to nothing more than the political wedge issue that Democrats have been saying it is for us.
WWJD? And no, in this case, that does not mean “What Would Jesus do?” because that is clear. What isn’t clear is “What Will Jared Do?”
Is it any wonder that participation in Republican primaries is so low?
Karen Townsend over at Pondering Penguin has weighed in on this issue. She too thanks Rep. Harless for her courage in speaking out about this. Here is a snippet of Karen’s post:
Ethics and integrity matter to me. Politics is a tough business but abandoning all measures of integrity is like losing your soul. Easy to lose, very difficult to recover. Is it any wonder that the average voter, the regular Joe and Jill in Harris County, has grown weary of participating in the political process? What is the motivation for anyone to research candidates, attend forums and debates, listen to interviews, etc, in order to get to know something about them?
As the regular voter begins to realize that so many races in the GOP primary are a done deal – that a handful of men are living quite comfortably off a corrupt endorsement system known as a pay for play system – he or she rightfully feels shut out of the process. We know that for many offices in Harris County the winner of a Republican primary race will be the winner in November against a Democrat opponent. Is it any wonder that this corruption continues to provide diminishing numbers in turn out on election day?
The corrupt pay for play system of candidates paying a small group of men for endorsements in the Republican primary discourages talented, capable quality potential candidates from coming forward to run for office. This iron grip on the power base of county politics is destroying the Republican party in Harris County. This is not the norm in other parts of the country – or even in other parts of Texas – and it is wrong.