The day after the local GOP lost its fourth-straight election cycle to Democrats, Dallas County Republican Party chair Jonathan Neerman told us "it's very unlikely" that he'd run for a third term in 2012, citing the need for "fresh leadership." But soon after the Hunton & Williams lawyer appeared to be removing himself from the political scene, Neerman fielded calls from current officeholders, former candidates and grassroots leaders urging him to reconsider.
"They've encouraged me to stay on for one more cycle," he tells Unfair Park.
Neerman says exhaustion from this year's election led him to believe he wouldn't have the energy and time on his hands for another shot at turning the county back to red, but the overwhelming support for his return made him change his mind. He still wants new blood in the party, which is why he's in the process of finding new precinct chairs and volunteers to assist with candidate and grassroots recruiting.
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Much like it has in other years, Neerman says the top of the ticket "will drive the train" come November '12, with the presidential race garnering most of the attention. Two years ago, the McCain-Palin GOP ticket nabbed just 42 percent of the vote in Dallas County.
Local spots up for grabs in two years include sheriff, tax assessor and the seats of commissioners Maurine Dickey (R) and John Wiley Price (D). After a failed attempt to oust Democratic Sheriff Lupe Valdez in 2008 with candidate Lowell Cannaday, Neerman says he's already had three people contact him with an interest in running against Valdez. He's also been talking to potential judicial candidates, but he isn't actively recruiting anyone to challenge Price to regain a Republican majority on the commissioners court.
What about Neerman moving to Price's district and taking on the Democratic heavyweight himself?
"I don't really want to get in a smackdown with Commissioner Price," he says.