Commentary: Reagan Reed
Last night was the inaugural meeting of the newly formed Montgomery County Republican Club. I had the pleasure of attending this wonderful event, and enjoyed getting to visit with so many great fellow Republicans. Honor Cafe, where the meeting was held, was completely packed with standing room only (to which I can personally attest, having arrived fashionably late).
What stood out most about the event was the general upbeat atmosphere. It was actually a fun evening, which is not a description often applied to Republican Party meetings in Montgomery County.
The club meeting was emceed by Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Wayne Mack. State Rep. Steve Toth (R-Conroe) and County Judge Mark Keough both gave updates on important political developments at both the state and local levels, respectively. The 2022 primary election season is in full swing, so of course droves of local office seekers were in attendance as well. If you were a Republican in Montgomery County, this was the place to be.
The resounding success of the club’s kickoff illustrates just why such a group is needed: Montgomery County really should have a place where all Republicans can gather together amid a positive atmosphere and get connected with the local party’s efforts.
The purpose of a Republican club is district from a County Executive Committee (CEC) meeting. Although a CEC meeting can be a good place to get plugged in for some activities, it is primarily a business meeting, not a social meeting. Montgomery County used to have a “Munch and Mingle” at the GOP headquarters before each CEC meeting which served a somewhat similar function. The “Munch and Mingle” however was overall not a suitable substitute for a club. The headquarters is too small for a large group, and you were only able to stand around and eat snacks for a few minutes before rushing off to the real show.
Having a local Republican club is by no means a unique or novel innovation. In fact, most of the major counties in Texas have Republican clubs, and many of the larger counties have more than one. Even Montgomery County’s smaller neighbor to the northeast, San Jacinto County, has a large and active club that I have visited several times. However, Montgomery County perhaps has a need for such a group even more than most.
Back when I was starting out as a precinct chair, I was often contacted by people who asked me how they could get involved in the local Republican Party. My response was usually to encourage them to come to the next CEC meeting and get plugged in there. I don’t think I could now bring myself to send a hapless, eager-eyed aspiring volunteer into the mental midnight melee that CEC meetings have become. To expose an innocent bystander to a six-hour marathon of such rank pandemonium is exactly how to get them to never want anything to do with the Republican Party. The CEC itself has become somewhat of a revolving door, with new precinct chairs who perhaps didn’t know everything they were signing up for resigning after enduring a couple meetings.
The point of the club is not to replace the CEC. However, until the Montgomery County Republican Party CEC can get its act together, the Republican club can serve as the cooling saucer of the party, allowing for real discussion of issues and providing a hub to draw in new volunteers. The CEC still serves many vital functions for the party even in its dysfunction state, however, it simply cannot serve the same social function a Republican club can.
If involving more people in the party is the goal, the Montgomery County Republican Club seems to be off to a successful start. I spoke to an elected official that night who said at least three people from his neighborhood who had never been to a local political meeting before came to the club meeting and now want to get involved. They’re probably not the only ones.
There has been some concern raised on social media that the Montgomery County Republican Club has been filed as a political action committee (PAC), which can legally advocate for candidates and issues rather than as a 501c3 or 501c4, both of which are more restricted when it comes to electioneering. Critics conflate the Republican club with the various other PACs in Montgomery County that endorse and campaign for political candidates in the primary. It has specifically been alleged that the Republican club was created by “RINOs” to, “maintain power and control.”
I suspect the people who make these kinds of accusations are probably not aware of the existence of local Republican clubs all over the state, and for that matter probably couldn’t even explain what the clubs do.
However, for good measure I asked Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Bryan Christ why the club was filed as a PAC and if they plan on endorsing candidates in primary elections. His answer couldn’t have been more emphatic. The Montgomery County Republican Club does not endorse in primaries. Christ said the reason the club has been filed as a PAC rather than a 501c3 or 501c4 is because they want to be able to do issue advocacy and didn’t want to deal with the speech and spending restrictions placed on 501c3s and 501c4s.
The various PACs that involve themselves in primary elections certainly have a purpose and a role to play in our political process. The club has an entirely different purpose, and is not in competition with the sundry PACs. Likewise, all the other GOP social clubs in the county, such as the Republican women’s clubs, Young Republican Club, and High School Republican clubs, etc. all have important roles to play. However, there hasn’t been a club for Republicans of all ages, genders, and geographical areas to all come together in one group to socialize. That void is precisely what the Republican Club is seeking to fill.
To end on a slightly amusing anecdote:
Back when I was vice-chairman I actually thought we should look into starting a Republican club, having been inspired by the great success of the one in neighboring San Jacinto County under the leadership of their County Chairman Dwayne Wright and Terry Holcomb. I even mentioned it to a few people at the time, and amazingly, none of them called me a RINO. However, there were way too many other things going on at the time that were taking up the party’s time, and adding yet another major undertaking like launching a Republican club was probably not the best idea.
However, the Montgomery County Republican Club is now an idea that’s time has come, and from the sidelines I applaud Christ and others in party leadership for making it a reality. We hear all the time that Montgomery County is the most important red county in the state, so it’s time to start acting like it. It’s past time for Montgomery County to join the ranks of the many counties with Republican clubs.
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