On Monday evening, July 25, the Montgomery County Republican Party (MCRP) held its fourth meeting, and third emergency meeting, in the span of a week. The meeting was called by Precinct Chair Becky Vance and other members of the county executive committee (CEC) to address issues left unresolved after the party adjourned its biennial organizational meeting without adopting bylaws or selecting officers. The meeting was originally supposed to be held at the Alan B. Sadler building, however, after the last unruly and raucous emergency meeting, in which precinct chairs strode up to the dais and shouted in the chairman’s face, MCRP County Chairman Bryan Christ chose to move Vance’s emergency meeting online.
The MCRP is divided between two factions: Christ and his supporters, and opponents of Christ who have labeled themselves the “Montgomery County Freedom Caucus”. The Freedom Caucus attempted to make changes to the bylaws at the organizational meeting, however, after the CEC spent four hours just arguing over the agenda, the body voted to adjourn. Republican Party of Texas Rules state that when a county party fails to adopt bylaws at the organizational meeting, the party reverts back to the previous biennium’s bylaws for the next term. The Freedom Caucus does not believe that the adjournment was valid.
On July 23, the two different factions called meetings with two different agendas, but for the same time and place. Christ attempted to put the issue of which agenda to use up for a vote, however, he was shouted down, and his microphone was turned off. The Freedom Caucus was in the process of holding a vote to remove Christ as chair of the meeting when he walked out, along with his supporters. The Freedom Caucus then proceeded to vote in their bylaws without discussion. They also elected officers and appointed new precinct chairs to several vacant precincts. Christ believes the July 23 meeting was out of order, and the business conducted invalid.
The Zoom meeting got off to a rocky start, taking about an hour just to complete roll call (anyone who has attended a Republican Party event and looked around the room will not be shocked). Even the roll call proved contentious: Precinct Chair Allison Winter, who was the chair of the Vacancy Committee in the previous biennium, raised a point of order, objecting to Christ excluding the people appointed at the July 23 meeting from voting.
Winter also objected to the presence of Precinct Chair Ann Kate on the call, saying that Kate had resigned and been replaced by Gwen Withrow. However, Christ called upon Kate to explain that she had resigned in her previous term, but did not intended her resignation to apply to the new term to which she had been recently elected.
Various CEC members then engaged in filibustering the meeting by raising points of order. Multiple points of order were raised against Christ’s opinion that the July 23 meeting was out of order, however, Christ overruled them all. Christ explained that the meeting was invalidated after approximately 26 precinct chairs participating online were denied access to the meeting.
At one point, Precinct Chair George Hyde raised a point of order against Christ for overruling points of order against Christ’s decision on the invalidity of the July 23 meeting. “Someone raised a point of order to challenge the ruling of the chair, and you decided that they couldn’t challenge the ruling of the chair. That kind of makes you king, not chair,” quipped Hyde. “You are abusing your discretion. I’m very disappointed in you.”
After overruling several more points of order, Christ then attempted to proceed with the agenda, beginning with an invocation. Even the prayer, like the roll call, proved heated. The invocation was turned into a somewhat bizarre spectacle after christian nationalist pastor Dale Inman, a precinct chair aligned with the Freedom Caucus, volunteered to give the invocation:
“Father we are asking for wisdom. We’re asking that good would prevail tonight and evil would be defeated. We’re asking that you would help clear our hearts and our minds and just bring peace into this room and into our hearts. Father help us these next several years as we try to repair the damage being done this evening. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.”
“Thank you for the prayer Mr. Inman,” Christ said curtly, seemingly taken aback at what could easily be interpreted as Inman insinuating that opponents of the Freedom Caucus were evil. “I meant it,” Inman retorted sardonically.
Included on the agenda was an item to select party officers. However, since the Freedom Caucus appointed officers at the July 23 meeting, they argued that officers were already in place.
A motion was made to adjourn the meeting, and a painfully tedious roll call vote was then held on whether to end the meeting. The vote was counted multiple times and in multiple ways, and a dispute ensued over the final result. Mistrust of the other ran rampant on both sides, with many precinct chairs questioning the accuracy and legitimacy of a vote held online. It appeared that the motion to adjourn was defeated by a slight majority.
However, after four and a half hours of points of order, filibustering, and exhausting roll calls, Christ made the decision to recess the meeting and convene in a week’s time so he could seek the advice of counsel. And just like that, the emergency zoom meeting came to a surprisingly anticlimactic end. Four and a half hours or arguing with no business conducted and nothing actually accomplished.
The internecine warfare is substantially handicapping the party’s general election campaign. The midterm election in November approaches ever closer, and the MCRP still cannot agree on bylaws, officers, or committees. Every hour spent arguing over points of order is an hour not being spent organizing for the quickly approaching election, which is sure to make local Democrats very happy.
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