Despite the length of our cover story on the GOP gubernatorial primary, my discussion with former city council member Donna Blumer about Republican Party of Texas chair Cathie Adams didn't make the cut. Knowing Adams would become newsworthy again in short order, I tucked away my notes, and sure enough, Adams was cited as the cause of the resignation of the party's executive director on Monday and appeared in Tuesday's Corpus Christi Caller-Times because she endorsed a Republican primary candidate after claiming her job prevented her from taking sides. (Of course, she has wholeheartedly endorsed Governor Rick Perry in his primary war against U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, so any other endorsements pale in comparison.)
Eric Opiela, the former executive director of the RPT, resigned last week to return to his private law practice. He told the Austin American-Statesman that his departure stemmed from Adams' election as the new chair, claiming she ushered in unnecessary changes that he's unwilling to discuss. "She has her own direction she wants to take the party in," Opiela said. "It's just a different leadership style."
And despite a statement to the Associated Press that her job requires her to remain neutral in primary races, Adams has endorsed Texas Supreme Court candidate Eva Guzman over Corpus Christi 13th Court of Appeals Justice Rose Vela. Again, this seems like small potatoes compared to backing Perry against Hutchison, and the Caller-Times couldn't even get a damning quote from Dallas County Republican Party chair Jonathan Neerman, who told us in October that the election of Adams "set the party back five years."
Blumer says while she doesn't know Neerman personally and hears he's "a nice fellow," his comments about Adams were "completely out of line" and his claim that the field was watered down because a woman had to hold the position was "sexist." He's supposed to build the party, she says, and making negative statements about a Republican holding a stronger position is "strange and very self-defeating."
Neerman stresses that the county party works every day to build the party and help get Republicans elected. "We will do that for every Republican on the ballot in Dallas County, and we will do so with every resource available to us, including the state party," he says.
Blumer, who ran on her Republican credentials during her city council campaign and previously served as a member of the State Republican Executive Committee, first met Adams while Blumer was president of the Dallas Eagle Forum. She describes Adams as serious, committed, unassuming, well-spoken and highly respected.
"She has just risen to heights that I find incomprehensible," Blumer says. "She's just amazing to me."
But what about that Obama-Hitler comment?
Blumer says there are a lot of Republicans who probably say the same thing, only the press doesn't hear it. "Some of the things that Hitler did remind us of some of the things that he's doing -- the children singing songs to Obama. ... He wanted to have a national police force, and the first thing that came to my mind were the brownshirts. Cathie's not embarrassed to say what she thinks, and she says it in a very ladylike way."
Neerman, who's Jewish, says he recently had breakfast with a friend who teaches campaign classes to new candidates, in which he presents them with a top 10 list of the most important things all candidates need to know. "The number one thing was do not go wobbly on Hitler. Hitler bad. Do not bring up Hitler."
Neerman refused further comment on Adams. Although he recently endorsed Edwin Flores over Kyle Reynard (both Republicans) in the District 1 race for the Dallas Independent School District board of trustees, he says that's not the reason for his restraint from criticizing Adams in the Caller-Times story. (Besides, he says the DISD race is nonpartisan.)
Nope, he's got a new "no Cathie Adams discussion policy."
OK, maybe not no discussion, as he offered up this peck on the cheek to Adams regarding her recent endorsement. "There are all sorts of reasons why Cathie may have endorsed her, and I'm willing to give Cathie the benefit of the doubt because we don't know what went into that."
So while Neerman isn't backing off from his previous comments, it sounds like he doesn't want to become the anti-Cathie Adams guy that journalists around the state call every time she makes a move.
"I've said all I want to say about Cathie and the state party," he says. "I wish her well and hope she can succeed."
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