Commentary: Reagan Reed
Bryan and Kristin Christ are both powerhouse political operators in their own right, but put them together as a team, and you get the ultimate political power couple. That is why Bryan and Kristin Christ are the Texas Citizen Journal’s 2021 Co-Winners of the Year for Montgomery County.
The Texas Citizen Journal’s winners and losers of the year are determined by who used their political capital effectively and who lost it, regardless of party or ideology. It is not necessarily an endorsement or condemnation of any particular politician. Sometimes the loser could be someone we like, or the winner could be someone with whom we profoundly disagree.
The Christs actually got their start in Texas politics in neighboring Harris County, and were part of the Ron Paul revolution. Upon moving to Montgomery County, they decided they could be more effective working from within the political system rather than being activists on the outside. They forged a close alliance with Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley and quickly integrated themselves into the Magnolia political establishment.
Anyone who has gotten to know the Christs will quickly find that they are strongly guided by their Christian faith. They are active in their church, and adopted three children whom they homeschool. However, in addition to being great people, they can be formidable opponents in the political arena. The Christs know how to play hardball.
Kristin owns a political consulting business, and has run numerous successful local campaigns. Riley, Precinct 1 Commissioner Robert Walker, 9th District Judge Phil Grant, and District Attorney Brett Ligon are among her clients. Kristin’s local competitors in the consulting industry have been sparse lately, with most other local consultants either collapsing or moving on to other things. The dearth of local consultants in Montgomery County has created a vaccume which Kristin has adeptly maneuvered to fill. She is currently the most sought after political consultant in the north Houston area.
Kristin has also benefitted from the electoral success of a political action committee with which she is closely allied. Although neither of the Christs are board members of the Republican Voters of Texas PAC, many of their close associates and friends are, and the RVT PAC tends to endorse Kristin’s clients. The RVT PAC mainly supports the candidates of Montgomery County’s political establishment, and has emerged as a strong competitor to the county’s two tea party organizations: the Texas Patriots PAC and the Montgomery County Tea Party PAC. The last few cycles, the RVT has prevailed against the tea party slates in most local elections.
One such contest where the RVT PAC bested the tea parties was the election of Bryan Christ as chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party in 2020 against a tea party opponent. However, while the tea party faction of precinct chairs lost some seats in that election, they managed to retain a majority of the county executive committee.
Inheriting a county party riven by years of brutal internecine warfare between factions under his predecessor, Dr. Wally Wilkerson, Bryan found himself at the head of a bitterly divided and deeply dysfunction Republican Party, facing down an openly hostile county executive committee. He has handled the challenge with grace and humility.
Although Bryan ran for office as Wilkerson’s chosen successor, the two men’s leadership styles have been nearly polar opposites. Whereas Wilkerson tended to rule by fiat and took a heavy handed approach towards dissent, Bryan has led by building consensus and giving everyone a seat at the table. Whereas Wilkerson quashed debate, Bryan is lenient to a fault and allows discussion to go on for hours into the night. In fact, my main critique of Bryan is that he allows too much debate and grandstanding by some precinct chairs who love to hear themselves talk, and I think the meetings could be run more efficiently if he was a little more heavy handed. Of course, if he were to take more control over meetings, he would likely receive significant backlash and accusations of “abuse of power” from opponents.
Therein lies the dilemma. When politics becomes personal, rather than about ideas, it is unfortunately simply impossible to please some people. I personally haven’t agreed with every decision Bryan has made, but most of the attacks I’ve heard from his detractors have been very unfair and made in bad faith. If you really take the time to sit down and get to know Bryan, you will find him to be deeply principled and a serious advocate of conservative ideology. One of his strengths has been his ability to win over former critics both on and off the county executive committee, myself included.
The truth is that everything we wanted Wilkerson to do, Bryan has done. Soon after he was elected, he organized workshops to get all the precinct chairs to agree on a common set of bylaws, and once they were adopted, he adhered to them. The dueling sets of bank accounts have been consolidated, as well as the websites, social media accounts, and email lists. I completely fail to grasp why the executive committee is still fighting at this point. The party cannot expect to be successful in 2022 if they are stuck relitigating fights from years past.
It is something of a miracle that Bryan has been able to accomplish anything this year. However, under his leadership, the party headquarters, which had taken the character of an ancient shrine and was sorely in need of repair, was renovated, bringing the face of the party into the 20th century. He also led greater outreach to ethnic minorities, including the creation of groups such as the Hispanic Conservatives of Montgomery County.
Perhaps most significantly, Bryan led the effort to create the Montgomery County Republican Club, which has been enormously successful at drawing new people into the party. Amazingly, even the club, despite its success, has been a point of contention. Even though most other major counties in Texas have Republican clubs (apparently some people need to venture outside The Woodlands more often), and Montgomery County joining is nothing out of the ordinary, critics spun the club’s creation as some kind of a sinister power grab by the Christs.
However, despite the noise, Bryan has achieved something that is usually a pretty good indicator that a politician has been successful: he is running for re-election unopposed. With all the acrimony within the party, the fact that Bryan’s detractors couldn’t find anyone willing to run against him, let alone a viable challenger, is very telling.
With Kristin’s success as a political consultant, and Bryan’s success as county chairman, the Christs are among the most influential people in Montgomery County, and are in a strong position going into the new year. They are Montgomery County’s political power couple, and the Texas Citizen Journal’s 2021 Montgomery County Winners of the Year.
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