San Antonio Express News ran a derogatory piece on May 9th authored by columnist Gilbert Garcia drawing attention to the divisions in the local Republican Party of Bexar County (RPBC). Local Republicans who are familiar with Garcia’s machinations shrug and comment that’s par for the course since in their view he is a shill for the Democratic Party.
One Republican Party precinct chair wrote, “It reads like a hit piece authored by a Democrat. My heart truly melts with the warmth of Mr. Garcia’s genuine care and concern for the welfare of the Bexar County GOP … or is he simply afraid that the old, powerless, RINO-centric County Party might be revitalized from within with some principled trench fighters with fire in their belly? I wonder.“
This precinct chairman has a point. Another precinct chairperson wrote, “Headquarters (RPBC) has NOT run viable candidates for any of the city council and county commissioners’ races in YEARS. Meanwhile the Democrats have taken over.“
Perhaps Garcia is actually thrilled there are fissures within the Republican Party ranks hoping they grow into a Grand Canyon-sized chasm. But then the Democrats aren’t sitting around brimming with brotherly love. Democratic Party veterans were perturbed with party chair, former mayoral candidate Manny Medina who, according to Garcia’s paper, “sought the support of tea party Republicans” and worked to build bridges outside the party with Republican politicians like Carlton Soules. Democratic Party Chair Medina was actually voted out of office by an unknown opponent in the March primary!
Does anyone who still reads the editorial page of the Express News especially during elections believe the paper’s editors and columnists are impartial in their political assessments and endorsements of Democrat and Republican Party candidates?
In my opinion any fair and balanced journalist from a reputable newspaper on the eve of the runoff elections would have interviewed parties from both sides of the story and not just echo one-sided rants from disgruntled cynics. So I interviewed the individuals who were maligned and got their side of the story.
I suspect Garcia’s purpose was really about endorsing Cynthia Brehm’s opponent. This is what the Express News shills do before elections. They’ll drop bombs on a candidate they disapprove of right before the election and their victims won’t have the time and opportunity to respond and defend themselves before the election. Certainly the target is not given equal time unless he or she is a public official.
I doubt most party members actively involved with the Republican Party in Bexar County today have heard of Jim Lunz, Garcia’s sniveling ranter. (Full disclosure – your author is a RPBC precinct chairman)
While the sneaky partisan columnist believes there is a “formidable faction” among Bexar County Republicans that seek “ideological purity tests” who are aligned with the Tea Party and Empower Texans, a conservative statewide political watchdog organization, he is only partially right. Most conservative Republicans active in the local party are neither Tea Partiers nor followers of Empower Texans. But thanks to Gilbert more folks are now aware of organizations who line up with Republican Party of Texas principles.
Conservative Republicans in Bexar County are waking up and uniting and they are not a “faction”. The factions are the establishmentarians and so-called moderates who are tearing the Party apart with middle of the road, country club Republicanism who are alarmed that they are being challenged by grassroots Republicans. They are upset that their standard bearer, former Speaker Joe Straus, who built his power base with a coalition of Democrats and middle of the road Republicans, (funded by lobbyists for public schools, unions, municipalities, liberal civil rights organizations, the medical industry, LGBT activists, and other institutions feeding at the trough of government largesse or just simply social change agents seeking to remake society in their image and likeness) was censured by his county and statewide party leaders. Apparently Gilbert is upset about Straus’ fall from grace. He would prefer Straus still actively in power splitting the party.
So who really are the ideological purists? Conservative Republicans united behind their state’s popular leaders who were elected by the majority of Texas voters – Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick? Supporters of the House members of the state legislature who fought against the Straus faction to pass the Governor’s priority bills in the last 85th legislative regular session and special session call but were vigorously thwarted by their own Republican Speaker? Republicans united behind the state party’s principles and platform planks that are debated and voted on by thousands in the Republican Party leadership from around the state during their party’s state conventions?
So if factions who are the cause of the infighting within the party seek to mold a Republican Party that looks like the Democratic Party on both fiscal and social issues, why are these people in the Republican Party of Texas?
I asked Cynthia Brehm who is the leading candidate for County Chair of the RPBC about Garcia’s snarky insinuation that she will not unite the party. She said, “As a party, we won’t agree 100% of time. Being respectful of one another and not emphasizing our differences is paramount. Focus on the positive, on the 80% where we agree. God is sovereign; He calls us to unity and we can if we pray and work for it.” Sounds reasonable to me, Gilbert.
I asked her about her ability to raise funds for the party, identify qualified candidates, and mobilize volunteers, the “foot soldiers” needed to get out the vote – skills that Garcia is sure she does not possess. She responded, “I’ve been fundraising since 1985, involved in getting Republicans elected. Some ideas I intend to pursue that haven’t been tried include a Casino night, a Christmas Ball, a new Golf Scramble, and continue the Lincoln Day fundraiser. Recruiting younger voters to join and get to work within the Republican Party is a top priority for me. My experience as a precinct chair, working to elect candidates, and challenges running for office in the city will provide much needed insights about how to support good qualified candidates who are well equipped to run excellent campaigns and help them get elected!“
I questioned her about the insinuation by Garcia that Brehm was aligned with the “faction” that censured Straus. Garcia lumped Brehm with the coalition of conservative members of the executive committee in Bexar County who worked to complete the Rule 44 censure of Speaker Straus. Brehm was not involved.
She said that Speaker Straus told the press when he said he would be resigning at the end of his term that he would continue to help (left leaning) Republicans. Actually he said he would help “responsible” Republicans. What does he mean by that? That the Governor and his allies in the House who support Abbott’s legislative agenda are not responsible? “We want to see a new Speaker who supports our conservative values who stands solidly with our President, Governor, and Lt. Governor,” Brehm responded.
Garcia decided that Brehm was not the “kind of figure to create a welcoming, big-tent mentality in the Bexar County party”. Cynthia replied, “I love working with people; I’m a peace maker and I’m not a divide and conquer leader who won’t be able to get things done. I’m going to work hard and help qualified Republicans get elected.“
Garcia brought up Robert Stovall who was forced to step down as County Chair after a disastrous executive committee last October when he repeatedly violated meeting rules to shut down motions to vote on a Straus censure resolution, aided and abetted by a rogue parliamentarian. To save face, he resigned to run for Lamar Smith’s congressional seat.
Stovall failed to make the runoff, finishing a distant 6th place with 4.7% of the vote. While according to Garcia, Stovall raised $33K for the party in 2017, his facts are not current regarding his successor’s performance. While Dorazio, Stovall’s successor who beat by a wide margin former county party chairman and Straus defender Kurt Nelson and Dwight Parscale, did not take office until November before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, he told me in a phone interview that he spent the first few months organizing the office staff to ensure party business was taken care of with primary elections in February coming up, convention planning and county party meetings and committee assignments as the interim county chairman’s priorities. He has since started a fundraising campaign and has raised over $23K in cash and in kind donations.
Brehm also commented: “What Stovall raised during his tenure is a pathetic number. Harris, Dallas, Tarrant counties raise much more! I will raise much more than the previous chair in 2016 and 2017. I raised $91K in one year 20 years ago with the Ft. Hood Military Wives Club.”
Garcia supports the election of Brehm’s opponent but according to another precinct chair, her opponent has done nothing for the county party … she’s been invisible. She hasn’t served in any position of leadership, has never been present and active as a precinct chair nor led any efforts to further the work of the county party in fundraising, supporting candidates, and broadening the base of Republican voters.
Most of Garcia’s commentary is pure fiction and hearsay. He opines that Straus was censured for spiteful reasons when in fact (we’ve written about it in this periodical) it was clear from his own statements at his press conference and through his spokesman upon announcing his retirement after his term expires that he would continue to be involved in helping “responsible” Republicans win upcoming elections (Straus has $10M+ in his campaign coffers) AND he left the door open to running for higher office in the future.
Garcia also wrote about Straus loyalist and crony, Lyle Larson, and Straus “opposing an absurd bill that would have forced transgender people to use restrooms that aligned with their birth sex and advocating for ethics reform on gubernatorial appointments.” We’ve already written about the issue of the so-called “bathroom bill” in this periodical before. It bears repeating for Mr. Garcia:
“The so-called ‘bathroom bill’ or Texas Privacy Act as it was officially called as a legislative bill was really about protecting the safety and privacy of women and children in public restrooms, locker room facilities, AND, about resisting the impulse to cave in to a special interest group who framed the lamentable and often transitory state of sexual confusion in some youth as a political issue using as pawns persons, suffering from gender dysphoria, who deserve our compassion and help.”
I suppose Mr. Garcia has no qualms (if he is married with daughters) about allowing men to enter public restrooms or locker rooms for girls. Most Texans think otherwise and we’ve written multiple times that studies show that caving in to the desires of gender-confused immature males who actually go through sex change surgeries is not only detrimental to society but to those suffering from gender dysphoria. (Read Walter Heyer’s testimony and commentary by Dr. Michelle Cretella, M.D., President of the American College of Pediatricians)
Regarding Garcia’s applauding Straus crony Lyle Larson’s political gamesmanship targeting the Governor on ethics reform, he ignores the fact that the Governor led the charge to pass meaningful ethics reform legislation last year which he did with the support of the Senate but was obstructed by Larson’s confreres in the House, by Democrats and a minority of moderate Republicans. So if Larson and Garcia have any evidence beyond innuendos that the Governor is party to ethical lapses, let them make their case. In the meantime, Larson’s own history on ethical behavior should be scrutinized.
Lyle Larson’s past voting record should also be scrutinized considering he poses as a Republican conservative. In the 85th session, Larson voted with the Democrats in the House to protect the sanctuary city policies of Dallas and Houston. Larson voted in the same session last year with the Democrats and a minority of 21 Republicans to kill the bill to end late term abortions for babies with disabilities. (SB 8/Amendment 22) By the way, Straus has made good on his promise to help those he considers “responsible” Republicans. According to Garcia’s paper, in 2018 Straus doled out $10,000 to Larson’s primary election campaign and “$600,000 into two GOP political committees backing sitting House members who face challengers from the right.”
My good friend, a wise owl, who has watched local politics in San Antonio for 40 years cancelled his subscription to the Express News a few years ago. He was fed up with the blatant liberal bias. He said whenever the paper’s editors endorsed candidates, he would vote for the opponent which turned out to be the better choice. Caveat emptor, readers. Beware what you read in the local San Antonio paper.
I have witnessed Cynthia Brehm work hard as a candidate for Mayor and City Council. She was the top vote-getter in the May 2017 Republican Primary for City Council. “She graduated from the University of Hawaii Magna Cume Laude, and is a Distinguished Graduate from St Mary’s University with a Masters in Public Administration. She is a certified Master Trainer for the U.S. Army and is able to teach military doctrine worldwide. She is a descendant of the Canary Islanders that settled San Antonio in 1731. Her ten-times grandfather, Juan Leal Goraz, was the first mayor of San Antonio. She was a deputy registrar, precinct chairman in Bell County, TX. from 1991-1998, presiding judge, and alternate judge for the Bexar County Elections Department.” (Read Brehm Bio)
Cynthia Brehm deserves a fair chance in winning your vote. She is not part of the country club clique controlling the party. She says she will work to help transform the local Republican Party in Bexar County which is precisely the reason Garcia, the Express News, and her detractors who have controlled the moribund party fear her victory. They prefer the status quo and that means business as usual with the Democratic Party dominating San Antonio.