Slate Wars Part DEUX
The slate wars between the social conservatives and moderates continues in Harris County as early voting begins in the 2018 Republican primary. The Republican candidates in contested primary races find themselves caught in the middle of this battle of the slates. The party chair race is the focal point of the conflict with Chris Carmona challenging Paul Simpson. Ultimately, voter turnout and effective individual campaigns will determine the path forward.
The party chair fight this year has focused on Simpson’s complete and total failure to win a countywide race in the 2016 Harris County general election. This fact is good for Carmona. Simpson blames everyone but himself for the party defeat and this is a little disconcerting. I say this because Simpson or his consultants have convinced themselves that they don’t need social conservatives and Trump voters to win in November. Simpson criticizes Carmona for not supporting Trump; however, Simpson has done nothing to support Trump. I do think the Simpson’s early support of Ted Cruz in the Presidential primary had a lot to do with the 2016 losses. Simpson has never gotten on board with Trump and his key supporters are not fans of the President. For example, Dick Weekley is very pro-illegal immigration and is one of Simpson’s largest contributors. Even worse, Simpson’s consultant, Kevin Shuvalov, ran Sarah Davis’ 2016 campaign and seems to think that HD 134 is representative of the entire county. It isn’t. Sarah Davis’ endorsement of Devon Anderson did not help anyone and should not be forgotten. Devon was a complete and avoidable disaster for Simpson who ignored the problems. 2016 was just a bad, slow train wreck for the Harris County Republican Party.
The battle for House District 134 Sarah Davis’ seat was inevitable. If you have ever seen Davis during session, you would know that she is bad news for conservatives. I am sure that Simpson did not count on his own former [HCRP] vice-chair running against Davis in the primary. Davis drew a formidable opponent in Susanna Dokupil. Dokupil, a Harvard trained legal scholar has hosted more $5,000 Republican campaign events in her West University home than anyone else in Harris County. Dokupil worked with Ted Cruz in the Texas Solicitor General’s Office and she authored many important legal briefs. Davis is doing her best to make Dokupil look deplorable; but, hopefully, HD 134 voters are smarter than that. Davis must be feeling desperate because she is now using personal attacks and gossip to fuel her campaign.
I like the interview Michael Berry did with Susanna live on air.
Governor Abbott’s adds attacking Sarah Davis are not surprising and should be heartening to every Harris County Republican candidate. The governor is attacking Davis, a top Joe Straus lieutenant. However, it does present a problem to Paul Simpson because, well, the governor is attacking a top Straus lieutenant. Susanna has all of the conservative slates. Not surprisingly, Davis has the support of liberal United “Republicans.” Davis also has HRBC [led by Joe Slovacek], Spring Branch Republicans [not sure River Oaks and West U care about this group], and the Texas Asian Republican Club.
Simpson is the pro-illegal immigration [ because his supporters support pro-illegal immigration] pro-choice [because he supports pro-choice candidates like Davis] wing of our party. Simpson cobbled together a liberal consortium to attack the big three slates and create their own new pay-for-play slates. Mary Jane Smith and Jennifer Naedler, along with Kevin Shuvalov stood to gain as consultants from Jared Woodfill’s departure.They viewed the timing right as Allen Blakemore was exiting Harris County stage left for Austin. The new slates by Simpson’s supporters are not branded and have a poor record turning out the vote for Harris County Republicans. And if you think they aren’t pay to play, you are fooling yourself.
The HD 134 race has a twist on the democratic side of the aisle. The democratic primary race has two candidates, one of which is pro-life. You really cannot make it up. Lloyd Oliver is pro-life and came very close to beating Mike Anderson in the 2012 DA race as a democrat. Oliver does have high name ID , which must frustrate Davis’ consultant no end. Allison Sawyer the pro-choice democrat in this race is begging democrats not to vote for Davis in the primary. HD 134 could wind up with a pro-life Republican versus a pro-life democrat in November. Planned Parenthood must be reeling. The dems could have a pro-life Houstonian in the governor’s race and a pro-life nominee in the HD 134 race. Again, you just can’t make it up.
The CD2 race to replace Ted Poe is also fascinating. The recent revelations about Kathaleen Wall’s voting record and the possibility that she voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary is throwing a huge wrinkle into her campaign. The videos of her walking out of a debate and not speaking well in another appearance are pretty bad. The slate war is very active in this race with the big three slates all going with Kevin Roberts. The Kingwood Tea Party, Mary Jane Smith’s View, and Spring Branch Republicans have all endorsed Wall. Shuvalov is clearly using Kathaleen Wall’s money to drag other candidates and slate participants across the line. Shuvalov and Mary Jane Smith to a large degree created the new slates primarily so someone would endorse their candidates. Simpson ran on getting rid of the slates, but that just meant allowing others to come online. It is a misnomer and complete fake news to believe that these slates don’t take funds from those they endorse, they do. They have become those they despise.
Direct mail is expensive and it is in a candidate’s best interest to join with other candidates to help share the cost. The problem arises when a candidate on your slate blows up. This could be happening with Kathaleen Wall. Republicans can ill afford another Devon Anderson debacle.
I voted for Chris Carmona because he has a much better chance to unite the party. Simpson’s consultants continue to foster a level of antagonism toward fiscal and social conservatives. Worse, the void created by the exit of Joe Straus will not be helpful to the social liberals in Austin. We saw this with Shuvalov’s support of Turner’s billion dollar bond fiasco. Just a week after that election, Turner said that he would like to raise taxes. Meanwhile, Shuvalov cashed his check and Simpson went right along with it.
The HCRP need a trustworthy leader who believes in and follows the platform of the Texas Republican Party. Simpson has proven time and time again that he doesn’t fit that bill. And, on top of that, he loses elections. So, let’s try a new guy.