A recent Wall Street Journal analysis shows that genuine "swing states" are down. Forty-five of the fifty states have voted for one party or the other at least four times during the last five elections. This gives Democrats a big advantage: stated worth 257 electoral votes have been reliably Democratic going back to 1996! The only swing states left are Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada.
So to win this year, a Republican needs at least four of these five states. For Democrats to win, they need only one of these states. So when deciding on a candidate, we need to pick someone who can win four of the states if we want to beat Clinton or any other Democrat.
A Factual Look At The Harris County GOP
Are We Better Off Than Two Or Four Years Ago?
As we move into primary season, it is important to look at what progress the current leadership of the Harris County Republican party has made. If you are following the campaign for Chairman, you have read a lot of bragging by the current chair Paul Simpson. But what matters are the facts.
We should judge a political party on results and turnout, so let's first review election results by comparable election years 2014 (Simpson) to 2010 (previous Chairman):
- Straight party Republican vote (number of votes) - 290,355 in 2010 down to 254,006 in 2014;
- Straight party Republican votes (percentage) - 54.33% in 2010 down to 54.26% in 2014;
- Votes for Republican candidate for Governor - 379,516 in 2010 down to 349,639 in 2014;
- Turnout - 41.67% in 2010 down to 33.65% in 2014; and
- Down ballot races - Republicans won every countywide race in 2010 with the sole exception of Governor where we had a popular "conservative" Democrat to run against, unlike in 2014 when a liberal woman was running.
Next, let's look at the party organization and see how it's doing:
- Number of Precinct Chairs - 540 in 2012 down to 452 in 2016;
- Percentage of precincts with Republican Precinct Chairs - 51% in 2012 down to 45% in 2016;
- Turnover - 50% of Senate District Chairs have resigned or chosen not to re-run since Simpson took office;
- A significant number of Precinct Chairs have resigned or elected not to re-file since Simpson took office;
- Republican Election Judges for Primary Election - Concern was voiced at the last HCRP Executive Committee Meeting about lack of vetting of Election Judges by Simpson leading to Democrats running Republican primaries in precincts;
- Election Judges for General Election - Chairman Woodfill went to court to support Republican Election Judges (and alternates). Simpson has discouraged Precinct Chairs from even serving as Election Judges; and
- In 2010, every polling location had a Republican Election Judge or Alternate Judge position filled by a Republican. In 2014 under Simpson, more than 50 polling locations had no Republican Judge or Alternate Judge!
Next, party finances:
- Income - Contributions have increased substantially, but unfortunately the expenses are through the roof;
- Expenses - Expansion of staff overhead and move to Wynnwood increased operation expenses, including a significant increase in monthly rent from the former headquarters, as well as having to pay for both headquarters at the same time for several months;
- At the 2015 Executive Committee, current HCRP treasurer Cindy Siegel reported that the party was short of having the money to pay monthly expenses;
- Campaign database - Software (Precinct Manager Program) developed "on his (Simpson) own time and on his own dime" was discarded soon after his election in favor of an expensive alternative controlled by outsiders;
- Overall assessment - Huge increase in fundraising expenses with little positive net to negative results.
The increase in donations is being squandered on unnecessary overhead.
Next, let's look at some of the exaggerated claims the current Chairman has made about his "so-called" record. Simpson claims:
- He modernized and expanded the fall 2014 campaign to be unified and grassroots-based, electing all countywide Republican candidates for the first time since 2006 and winning every countywide vote for the first time in a decade - But HCRP has been dominating the County since 1996;
- Contacted voters via 1.1 million volunteer phone calls and knocking on over 115,000 doors in 2014 & 2015 - These claims cannot be verified, but look at results in the close Mayor's race we lost;
- Recruited over 126 new Precinct Chairs - But many have resigned, so we've had a net loss of Chairs;
- Conducted the first outside audit in 20 years - Not true, audits have been done for HCRP since 1990's;
- Moved to a new, larger central headquarters, and opened offices around the County: seven campaign offices in 2014 and three satellites staffed year-round in 2015 - Despite declining net results, this is the highest overhead we've had in history;
- Expanded full-time staff, with field organizers in every office to recruit and train year-round - With little positive results;
- Pioneered state-of-the-art technology and voter data for grassroots to organize teams and to contact voters year-round - To what end? We lost the Mayor's race;
- Led grassroots efforts in 2015 Houston elections to defeat HERO and to elect candidates in the runoff, resulting in the closest Mayor's race in over 50 years - False, Campaign for Houston, the leader in the anti-HERO fight, said HCRP did little to help. As for the Mayor's race, close is still losing. If the other claims about phone calls, doors knocked on, and identification of more Republicans is true, why didn't we win with the strongest Republican candidate for Mayor in recent history?
The GOP in Harris County and Texas will not be successful in the coming years by spending more for less. It is hypocritical to criticize bloated and inefficient government bureaucracies, while implementing them within our own party. We have to be more accountable than the Democrats and government bureaucracies. It's time for new, vigorous, energetic conservative leadership.
2016 Republican Primary Endorsements
By Gary M. Polland, Editor-in-Chief
President of the United States
Read our feature article in the TCR 2016 Primary Voters Guide (starting on page 3) and decide for yourself.
U.S. Representative District 7: James Lloyd
Support for a challenger against an incumbent typically happens when the incumbent no longer effectively represents his district or when the challenger brings something special to the race. In this race, both apply. Congressman John Culberson, who has held public office for nearly 30 years, has become a Washington insider and is out of touch with the district. Culberson voted for the terrible omnibus spending bill that funds Planned Parenthood, Obamacare, Obama's illegal amnesty, and other offensive liberal programs. James Lloyd, on the other hand, brings fresh ideas and a youthful passion for conservative political reform. James will be a hard-working, principled conservative who will work to overturn the Washington big government party.
Railroad Commissioner: Gary Gates
As Gary Gates is quick to point out, "If you live in Texas, you are in the Oil and Gas business." That's because so much of our economy is tied to energy, which is the business of the Railroad Commission. And that's why Texas voters should care about this race. We like Gary Gates because he is a seasoned business owner who can take a business approach and a passion for the oil and gas business to the agency.
Justice, Supreme Court, Place 3: Debra Lehrmann
Justice Debra Lehrmann has been a principled member of the Supreme Court since 2010. Prior to her appointment, Justice Lehrmann served as a district judge for 23 years. Lehrmann has an impressive list of endorsements including the endorsements of 12 previous justices of the Texas Supreme Court. TCR is proud to add our endorsement to her list and recommends a vote to keep Justice Debra Lehrmann.
Justice, Supreme Court, Place 5: Rick Green
Rick Green is an impressive candidate. He completed college in just two years and began law school at the age of 20. At 27, Green was elected to the Texas Legislature and was named Republican Freshman of the Year. In 2001, Green and David Barton founded Wallbuilders, which promotes the country's moral, religious and constitutional heritage. TCR is confident that Green will apply his passion for the Constitution to the protection of our individual rights.
Justice, Supreme Court, Place 9: Eva Guzman
During her sixteen years on the bench - first as a district judge, then a member of the 14th Court of Appeals and now as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court - Eva Guzman consistently receives high marks in judicial evaluation polls as well as accolades from professional, civic, and law enforcement groups. Eva Guzman has served the people of Texas with distinction and has earned reelection.
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2: Ray Wheless
Ray Wheless has a breadth of experience in private practice and as a district judge that will be assets to him on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Judge Wheless has presided over both criminal and civil cases and his versatility will give him a unique perspective on the Court. TCR also likes the fact that Wheless has been active within the Republican Party for 35 years.
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5: Sid Harle
Judge Sid Harle has been presiding over criminal cases for 27 years. During that time, he has developed a reputation as tough, but fair-minded. Judge Harle's extensive judicial experience will be an invaluable asset on the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6: Richard Davis
Richard Davis is a 1982 graduate of the Baylor Law School. He is a former prosecutor and guest lecturer at Baylor Law School. Richard Davis' 32 years of experience and strict Constitutional approach to the law will make him an effective member of the Court.
State Representative District 127: Dan Huberty
Dan Huberty was elected to the Legislature in 2010 and quickly earned wide respect, including by Texas Monthly magazine who named him, "Rookie of the Year" for his understanding of the issues. Huberty's background in education and business have allowed him to serve his constituents exceedingly well.
State Representative District 128: Wayne Smith
Wayne Smith has an impressive record of achievement on conservative issues that includes: Co-authored legislation to provide $800 million in new funding for border security, co-authored legislation that would have banned sanctuary cities in Texas, co-authored $1.2 billion tax cut and supported legislation that defunded Planned Parenthood. Smith's solid record on our issues earns him our endorsement for reelection.
State Representative District 130: Tom Oliverson
Dr. Tom Oliverson is a physician and business owner who will bring a unique perspective to the Texas Legislature on behalf of the people of District 130. His background, qualifications and conservative positions on issues such as the 2nd Amendment, sanctity of life and small government make Tom Oliverson the best choice for conservatives.
State Representative District 150: Debbie Riddle
Debbie Riddle has been standing up for conservative principles for over a dozen years. She is a staunch opponent of illegal immigration and vehemently opposes Sharia law in our government. Riddle's conservative record includes: Life-long pro-life leader (91%+ rated by all pro-life groups), author of "Jessica's Law" protecting children from pedophiles, co-author of the "Castle Doctrine" protecting your family in your home, and co-authored the "Pastor Protection" bill allowing pastors the freedom to exercise their 1st Amendment rights.
Justice, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 2: Bud Wiesedeppe
Since graduating from SMU Law School, Bud Wiesedeppe has built an impressive legal career focused in the area of business litigation. Bud's experience and dedication to the protection of private property rights are qualities conservatives should want on the Court of Appeals.
District Judge, 80th Judicial District: Ken Shortreed
Ken Shortreed has over two decades of experience including over 100 trials. In addition to practicing law, Shortreed also teaches Business Law at Lone Star College and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and the Army National Guard.
District Judge, 125th Judicial District: Sharon Hemphill
Sharon Hemphill is a Board Certified trial attorney with over two decades of experience who not only holds a J.D., but also a LL.M (Masters of Law). Hemphill is also active in the community and a longtime grassroots activist and member of numerous Republican organizations.
District Judge, 151st Judicial District: Jeff Hastings
Jeff Hastings has built an impressive resume of legal experience over his 25-year career, including handling over 1000 civil matters. His extensive experience in the types of cases heard in the 151st District Court means that he will be effective from his first day on the bench.
District Judge, 178th Judicial District: Phil Gommels
Phil Gommels is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and SMU Law School, a former Harris County prosecutor and currently an extremely experienced attorney in private practice. Gommels also served his country as a U.S. Army combat medic for eight years, including active duty and reserve service.
Judge, County Civil Court at Law #1: Clyde Leuchtag
Judge Clyde Leuchtag serves on the bench of County Civil Court at Law #1 and handled hundreds of cases since June 2015. His opponent is a lifelong Democrat who previously ran as a Democrat against a Republican judge. The decisions don't get any easier than this one.
County Attorney: Jim Leitner
Jim Leitner is far and away the most qualified candidate in the two-way race for Harris County Attorney. Leitner has a legal career that spans 40 years and includes experience as former General Counsel to the Sheriff of Harris County, former First Assistant District Attorney in Harris, Bell, & Lampasas Counties and 20 years in private practice. Leitner also has 300+ jury trials and 300 appellate briefs under his belt.
Harris County Sheriff: Ron Hickman
When you talk to Sheriff Ron Hickman, something becomes very obvious, very fast-he loves law enforcement and he is exceptionally good at it. He's also very smart, which is clear when he starts rattling off statistics and budget figures. Since taking over, Hickman has made many reforms including implementing business methodologies and upgrading technology. There is no doubt that Harris County is safer with Ron Hickman as Sheriff.
County Tax Assessor-Collector: Mike Sullivan
Under the leadership of Mike Sullivan, customer service and efficiency have flourished at the office of Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector. Sullivan continues to drive innovation at the office and his passion for the office shows in his dedication to efficient delivery of services, while maintaining a sharp eye on the budget.
County School Trustee, Position 1, Precinct 2: George Moore
George Moore retired after a 40+ year career with KBR where he developed his extensive management and problem solving skills, which would be highly effective in streamlining the functions of the Harris County Department of Education. George holds an MBA and is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Houston.
County School Trustee, Position 2, Precinct 4: Eric Dick
Eric Dick has a heart for public service and deep compassion for others, which was epitomized by his effort to repeal the City of Houston's charitable feeding ban. Eric, a strong fiscal conservative, is running for the HCDE to add another needed voice of fiscal accountability.
County Commissioner, Precinct 3: Steve Radack
Commissioner Steve Radack, brings over two decades of public service to the office of County Commissioner, Precinct 3. He has been a highly effective county commissioner and without a doubt the most qualified in this two-way race. TCR enthusiastically recommends a vote for a 6th term for Commissioner Steve Radack.
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4, Place 1: Lincoln Goodwin
Judge Lincoln Goodwin has had a diverse legal career that includes a US District Court clerkship, private practice, and as an Assistant District attorney. With experience in both criminal and civil law, Judge Goodwin is uniquely qualified to preside as the JP Precinct 4, Place 1.
Constable, Precinct 4: Mark Herman
When Constable Ron Hickman was appointed Harris County Sheriff, Mark Herman was tapped by Harris County Commissioners Court to succeed him. Herman has over three decades of service in the Precinct 4 Constable's office, rising through the ranks to the position of Assistant Chief, where he supervised nearly 250 deputies. Herman's long history in the office make him the perfect successor.
Constable, Precinct 5: Ted Heap
Ted Heap has 30-plus years of experience and is only candidate in the race who is a law enforcement officer, which is vital for someone leading frontline officers. Heap has been recognized for his service and promoted through the ranks, achieving the rank of Chief at the Precinct 5 Constable's office.
Harris County Republican Party Chairman: Rick Ramos
Rick Ramos has an inspiring story. He and his family fled a communist dictatorship in the dead of night to seek a better life in the U.S. With desire and hard work, Ramos built a successful legal practice and achieved the American Dream. Now Ramos wants to apply his grit and determination to reforming and revitalizing the local party. Ramos' youth, energy, passion and heritage make him ideally suited to lead the HCRP in the critical 2016 election.
TCR on the Air
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About Your Editor
Super Tuesday Preview with guests Senator Bettencourt and Senator Garcia.
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his sixteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last fourteen years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 13 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his 14th year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston, longest running political talk show in Texas history. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.