“One Country, Two Systems” is the phrase used to describe how the relationship between China and Hong Kong would function (in theory) when the latter was handed over by the British in 1997. Although “One Country, Two Systems” has become a total farce, especially since 2020, the idea was for Hong Kong to be technically part of China while at the same time being allowed to run it’s own internal affairs separately. Hong Kong would continue to operate under liberal democratic capitalism and the mainland would continue to be governed in accordance with “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” however, they would both be the same country: China. It’s not hard to see why this did not work out well in the long run.
One might say that the Montgomery County Republican Party is now “One Party, Two Systems.” The party’s two factions are currently operating under separate sets of bylaws. Now, after holding separate county executive committee meetings, they claim to have elected two different steering committees and two different sets of committee chairs.
After the MCRP organizational meeting adjourned without adopting bylaws, the party reverted back to being governed by the previous biennium’s bylaws per Republican Party of Texas Rules, according to County Chair Bryan Christ. However, a group of precinct chairs known as the “Freedom Caucus” contend that the organizational meeting was not properly adjourned. At a racaus emergency meeting held a few days later on July 23, Christ walked out of the meeting after being shouted down and having his microphone silenced. The Freedom Caucus then proceeded to pass their own bylaws by a majority of those still present. Another emergency meeting, this time held online after the last one got out of control, recessed after four hours, accomplishing nothing.
Yet two more CEC meetings were then called for August 13 at separate locations: One in The Woodlands by the Freedom Caucus, and one in Conroe by precinct chairs not part of the Freedom Caucus.
Christ chose to chair the Conroe meeting. Steering Committee members and some standing committee chairs were chosen.
Meanwhile, at The Woodlands meeting, precinct chairs aligned with the Freedom Caucus appointed their own committee chairs. The Woodlands meeting was chaired by Jon Bouche, who was elected Vice-Chair by the Freedom Caucus at the July 23 meeting.
Movings forward, the biggest conflict between the competing sets of committee chairs may be between the two vacancy committees. The Vacancy Committee is responsible for recommending new precinct chair applicants for appointment to fill vacant precincts. The Freedom Caucus elected Allison Winter, who has been Vacancy Committee chair since 2018, to continue in that role. However, Christ and the other precinct chairs selected Becky Vance to chair the Vacancy Committee at their meeting. If the two vacancy committees end up recommending different slates of precinct chairs to fill vacancies, the party may reach a serious impasse over who is even a valid precinct chair.
Not even able to coexist in the same room together, both sides seem intent on moving forward separately if necessary. The Freedom Caucus is organizing a GOTV effort for the November election under John Wertz, who they tapped to chair the Victory Committee. Christ is working on recruiting enough election workers to staff all the Election Day voting locations.
The state party, which weighed in on a similar bylaws dispute in 2018, appears reluctant to get involved in Montgomery County this time. However, the schism is seriously debilitating the party’s ability to run a robust general election campaign in a county rich in GOP votes that is critical to the success of Republican candidates running statewide.
For now, the MCRP appears to be “One Party, Two Systems.” Whether this state of affairs proves any more enduring than China’s “One Country, Two Systems” remains to be seen.
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