GOP County Chair Jonathan Neerman Responds to Kick to the Crotch from DMN'er

On Tuesday, DMN'er Gromer Jeffers reported on one of the paper's 423 blogs (apparently they have one named after the Portland Trail Blazers) that Dallas County Republican Party chair Jonathan Neerman (and the target of the plot to blow up Fountain Place, according to one fine journalist) will not challenge Democrat Allen Vaught for the District 107 house seat (Neerman told us in July that he was considering it). I dismissed the item because I had heard the news earlier in the day, but it caught my attention when Jeffers posted a follow-up yesterday titled "I owe Neerman an apology."

In my post, I quipped that Neerman, among other things, used family concerns as a reason for not embarking on what would have been a tough race.

Indeed, Neerman has had considerable family issues this past year, including the premature birth of his son.

So I apologize if my post made it appear that Neerman was unnecessarily using his family to dodge a race against Vaught. That's certainly not the case.

Neerman is a good guy and deserves better. I hope buying him a cold beer and sending his wife some flowers makes up for the mistake.

Naturally, I then read the original post, which he wrapped up thusly:

Neerman considers the Dallas swing district a potential pickup for Republicans, if they can field the right candidate.

He won't be that candidate, which means he'll continue efforts to rebuild the local party. There's also the often used excuse of spending more time with family.

Mr. Neerman, your thoughts?

"I assume that he was trying to be tongue-in-cheek, and it didn't come across that way in print," he tells Unfair Park. "I also recognize that sometimes when reporters are trying to get something done quickly, maybe they forget some key facts that they considered. I'm assuming Gromer forgot about my son being born early and my dad passing away within three months of each other or else he wouldn't have put that in there."

Neerman says he's thick-skinned and jokes that he doesn't accept Jeffers' apology. "I expect a case of beer and a box of Krispy Kremes every week on my desk until I feel better. He can keep the flowers and the chocolate or whatever he offered me."

So has his wife, Tricia, received those flowers yet? "Not that I'm aware of. I would certainly notice flowers at the house."

We also probed Neerman, a lawyer at Hunton & Williams, for a more detailed explanation regarding his decision not to take on Vaught, something he told us he planned on doing in 2008 until he found out that his friend Bill Keffer, who lost his seat to Vaught in 2006, wanted to give it another try.

"The biggest reason is it's not the right time for me in my business life or personal life," he says. "And when I say that, I had a son who was born three months prematurely, and I'm in a position in my work -- because I do have a full-time job -- I couldn't devote the time necessary to serve six months every other year."

He says Vaught didn't factor into his decision, and Neerman sees the district as winnable for a Republican, noting that more votes were cast in District 107 for John McCain than Barack Obama in 2008. As county chair, he says he'll continue to recruit heavily for a candidate to oppose Vaught. "I always viewed myself as the backup, not the other way around. We're going to keep doing what we've been doing, which is trying to find the best candidate."

And he'll try to fend off any competition for his job, which could emerge as 2010 approaches. "I'm just going to keep on keeping on as county chairman, assuming I get reelected."

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Sam Merten
Contact: Sam Merten