If you didn't notice when Texas Republican Party chair Tina Benkiser stepped down last month to join Governor Rick Perry's re-election campaign as a senior adviser, you're forgiven. We didn't pay it much attention either. But when the State Republican Executive Committee recently elected radical right winger Cathie Adams to finish out Benkiser's term, we found ourselves actually caring about what the SREC is and how best to avoid its members.
Call us crazy, but for a party in desperate need of new leadership, is Adams really the best they have? After all, she was one of the loudest voices during the Republicans scare campaign against President Obama's speech to students. "This is eerily like Hitler's youth movement," Adams wrote in a September 5 e-mail to fellow Republicans. (Some free advice: Never invoke the name of Adolf Hitler. Those who do are often found in a room with four padded walls.)
Dallas County GOP chair Jonathan Neerman says the party needs "serious leaders with serious ideas," and Adams apparently doesn't fit that description. "She has been part of an issue group that has gone after Republicans, and I don't know how she can shift gears and go from being an issue-group leader going after Republican candidates and elected officials to now being one where she has to try and grow the party."
Neerman says there's "a crisis of confidence" in the state party, claiming elected officials don't feel like the party has been there for them or has been working for them to win elections. "You've seen the state party take positions on issues where there's no uniform agreement amongst Republican elected officials. So what they've done instead of trying to grow the party is formed a circular firing squad to go after Republicans."
The selection of Adams won't affect how the county party in Dallas conducts its business, Neerman stresses, but he doesn't know how she'll get back the big donors and restore confidence in the party. "I don't think that this leadership is what the Republican Party needs at this time."
The SREC chose Adams, who has served as president of the socially conservative Texas Eagle Forum since 1993, in a 36-25 vote over Melinda Fredricks. Rules required that the chair remain a woman because the vice-chair is a man, which Neerman says watered down the candidates.
SREC member Rebecca Williamson said discussion would be quashed because debate might lead to controversy and personal attacks, according to the Austin American-Statesman. "After all, the press is here," she said.
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"This was not a full representation of Republicans in the state of Texas, and it's disappointing to me that the vote occurred with no discussion and was done by secret ballot," Neerman says. "In fact, what's happened is we've set the party back five years."
Reason No. 1,534 why Republicans continue to lose power in this state. Let's see. The state party is at a critical point, and 62 people (one man and one woman from each senate district) huddled up on a Saturday morning to choose its next leader without discussing it or holding those people accountable for their votes?
This is eerily like Nazi Germany.
OK, probably too strong, but with Adams running the show for the GOP, we have to step up our game.