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Gillen goes off on his own

Things continue to unravel for the Republicans in their attempt to impose unity on CD22. Fort Bend GOP Chair Gary Gillen has officially opted out of tonight’s meeting of the Benkiser Gang and is urging his fellow Fort Benders to join him.

Fort Bend County Chairman Gary Gillen wrote a letter to prospective candidates in the county urging them not to attend the meeting, saying it excluded grass-roots Republicans. But his counterpart in Harris County, Jared Woodfill, said the gathering was the best way to unify the party behind a single Republican candidate.

I think Gillen’s rebellion pretty much proves Woodfill wrong. Well, I suppose this could be the least divisive way to go. It just obviously won’t work to unite the party.

In his letter, Gillen complained that the meeting is closed to all but the precinct chairs and other designated party and elected officials.

“Holding a closed meeting with very few participants, ostensibly to determine what we Republicans should do, makes a mockery of our party, the democratic process and should be avoided at all cost,” wrote Gillen.

Woodfill said, however, that the meeting among party leaders is the only practical way to assess how GOP faithful feel about the candidates.

“We are talking about grass-roots. Precinct chairs are part of the heart and soul of our grass-roots base,” he said. “Given the situation we are in I think it makes a lot of sense to have a meeting with those folks and talk about how to proceed.”

Gillen is asking candidates not to participate in the meeting, which he says will deny rank-and-file party members the chance to participate in the political process.

“In Fort Bend alone, over 20,000 people participate in our primary elections; yet, just over 60 people from my county have been invited to attend this secret closed-door meeting. The same is true in the other three counties, as well,” he said.

Gillen’s letter is here (PDF). Note that in the penultimate paragraph, he urges “anyone who wants to run” to “pay the fee and get your running shoes on”. That’s some kind of unity there. Thanks to Juanita for the link.

Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace, who already has filed as a write-in candidate and hopes to secure the GOP blessing, said he has reservations about attending the meeting because of a scheduling conflict and also because the meeting is closed to most Republicans.

I presume the scheduling conflict is with the meeting that Gillen has called for all FBGOP members. The Muse has the email Gillen sent out.

Fort Bend Now goes into this story in more detail, and expands on the fact that Gillen has endorsed Wallace in this race even though he campaigned to be FBGOP Chair with a pledge to not endorse one Republican over another unless one candidate was deemed “unqualified” by the state party. So much for that. The article also notes the emergence of a second write-in candidate, Don Richardson (about whom I know nothing), which Juanita noticed yesterday. And Chris Elam analyzes the Gillen letter and the email to FBGOPers.

Finally, Charlie Cook has weighed in on the updated status of CD22.

RATINGS CHANGE: TX-22 Open (DeLay) moves from Toss-Up to Lean D. Winning a write-in campaign is hard enough, but squabbling among Republicans in the district means that there may not be a consensus candidate for the national and state party to rally around. While this district retains a good Republican advantage – and there’s always room to be surprised in politics – the benefit of the doubt now goes to Democrat Nick Lampson.

I still think that’s too wishy-washy, and I’m still waiting for any of these guys to say something about GOP support for Bob Smither, but at least he has Lampson as the favorite and he acknowledges the chaos left in DeLay’s wake. That’s progress.

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One Comment

  1. Mark says:

    Not progress. Just slightly less delusional. Like in the way Curtis Mayfield is slightly less funky than James Brown.