Back in December 2008, we introduced you to foul-mouthed Jonathan Neerman, who had the misfortune of taking over as Dallas County Republican Party chair during a Barack Obama-led Democratic ass-kicking at the polls.
One day after the GOP swept local state House races and lost again to the Democrats countywide in November 2010, Neerman told us "it's very unlikely" he'd run for a third term in 2012. Then, less than a month later, he said current officeholders, former candidates and grassroots leaders "encouraged me to stay on for one more cycle."
Now, he's decided to resign effective May 2.
"It's time to turn over the leadership of the party to new blood, which hopefully can continue on the same upward trajectory that we've been on," says the Hunton & Williams securities and real estate lawyer and father of two young children. "I've also reached the point in my professional career and personal life where I want to spend more time focused on that right now."
Vice chair Debbie Georgatos will assume Neerman's duties until a new chair is elected by the party's precinct chairs. Georgatos, who Neerman says is interested in staying on long term, has 30 days to schedule a meeting of the executive committee.
Lawyer and former Cedar Hill council member Wade Emmert, who narrowly lost his campaign to become Dallas County judge in November, says it's a logical position for him to assume.
"I haven't totally decided yet, but it's something I'm interested in," he says. "It would be a way for me to stay involved in both county politics and county government, along with state and federal politics."
Emmert says Neerman's decision surprised him, and he praised Neerman's tenure.
"Besides being a great friend, he is a great leader," he tells Unfair Park. "We're losing out in a lot of ways on a visionary for Dallas County. But I hope to build on what he's accomplished and look forward to taking the county party to the next level."
Neerman says he won't be taking an active or passive role in determining his successor.
Other than securing a major countywide victory, Neerman says he accomplished the goals he established when he replaced Kenn George as party chair in 2008. Those goals included re-establishing the GOP's relevance in the county and boosting the party's finances, technology systems, communication with the public and relationship with elected officials. He says the lack of a countywide win had little to do with the candidates.
"The census numbers show demographic trends that are hurting countywide Republican candidates in the short term," he says. "One-punch, straight-ticket voting has also hurt our down-ballot candidates at a time when our Republican top-of-the-ticket has underperformed. And, looking at 2008, our local candidates were fighting against a historic Obama campaign that swept urban areas."
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