Disclaimer: I am not a Republican and I'm positive there's more to this story - on both sides - than I know. And I'm not implying the local GOP didn't follow state law with the way they went about doing this.
Now, the local GOP decided to kick a four-time election winning Republican Justice of the Peace and a three-time winning Republican Justice of the Peace to the curb in favor of another candidate.
Fine. But why?
Quick context: the party had to nominate new candidates for local JP offices because the county commissioners redrew the boundaries, eliminating some positions. As a result, some precincts were consolidated and there were too many office holders and not enough positions.
So the party had to decided on its own who its crop of candidates would be in the fall elections.
JP Kristi DeCluitt (whom I know casually, like many local Republicans) was not selected by the precinct chairs. Neither was fellow incumbent Belinda Summers. That spot on the fall ballot went to Dianne Hensley.
I've run into Mrs. Hensley before and she seems like a capable and competent woman. I'm sure she'll do just fine.
I have no dog in this fight, no interest in whomever gets the nomination beyond my own curiosity (and the fact that they will be a public official).
My question is why would the local GOP, in a combination of both open and executive sessions, decide to boot duly elected members of their own party?
Yes, I know there's more to the story and I've started to hear it from all sides.
But the GOP needs to ask itself if it's ready to accept the image and perception that it is perfectly comfortable dismissing the will of the voters, as small as the turnout for these elections usually is.
Was it because these incumbents had been in office too long and it was time for a change? If that was it, nobody is saying or admitting that.
The irony here is the first couple sentences from the statement of the GOP chairman in their press release:
"Today we are witnesses to the local fulfillment of the Rule of Law. That is what separates us from dictatorships and chaos."
That may be true that you followed the rule of law. And it might be perfectly legal and proper that the GOP picked a different candidate to run than the ones the voters did just two short years ago. But aside from the grandiose language suggesting the local GOP single-handedly prevented the county from falling into chaos, was it the smart and right thing to do?
For what it's worth, here's the Trib's coverage.
And here's the GOP press release:
Waco, Texas, June 30, 2014– The Republican Party of McLennan County announced the candidates for Justice of the Peace (JP) and Constable Positions for the November general election. The process of the selection was done by JP Precinct Executive Committee meetings in accordance with Texas statute.
“Today we are witnesses to the local fulfillment of the Rule of Law. That is what separates us from dictatorships and chaos. Earlier this year, our Commissioners' Court members made some tough decisions to reduce expenses for the county. One of those decisions was to reduce the number of Justice of the Peace and Constable Precincts from 7 to 5. That decision set in motion a process outlined in Texas Law requiring the major parties to nominate their candidates for the November election for the new positions created.”
“As is usual when we select Republican Candidates for offices in our county, we have an abundance of well qualified citizens from which to choose our nominees. Unfortunately, we have more candidates than positions available. The Republican Party Precinct Chairs did an outstanding job when presented with a difficult situation. In the end they did their duty just as we have said since the beginning: in accordance with the law, in a fair and reasonable manner. I would like to commend each of them for their willingness to serve the citizens of our community.”
“As the official spokesman for the Republican Party of McLennan County it is my pleasure and privilege to announce our local Justice of the Peace and Constable candidates for the November 2014 Election.” – Ralph Patterson, County Chair Republican Party of McLennan County