As the vice chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, I care deeply about supporting Republican candidates in Austin up and down the ballot.
So I was horrified on election night that Robert Morrow, a phony candidate with a simply unbelievable history of making slanderous, misogynistic, racist, sexually explicit and vulgar comments, was elected chairman of the Travis County GOP.
I am far from alone: In the past 48 hours, I have spoken to hundreds of precinct chairs, volunteers, candidates, elected officials and party officials. Two precinct chairs — out of 118 — have expressed an interest in giving Morrow a chance. Everyone else I have talked to wants Morrow removed from office and enthusiastically supports this effort.
This isn't personal. Robert Morrow's election is a disaster for our party, and I will not rest until he is removed as chairman.
Many have asked: How did this happen? Morrow has bragged that he did not campaign, did not spend any money, and did not ask for votes.
This office is listed near the bottom of the ballot. Very few people know who the Travis County GOP chairman is. For the past two years it has been James Dickey, who moved here only a few years ago and has done an excellent job diligently and faithfully leading our party.
Robert Morrow, by luck of the draw, was listed first on the ballot. His name also happens to be similar to that of actor Rob Morrow, late of the '90s TV show "Northern Exposure." Morrow may also have benefitted from a surge of Donald Trump voters who seek to indiscriminately throw out all elected officials.
No matter the cause, with over 47,000 ballots cast in this particular race, Morrow won by more than 6,000 votes.
Morrow does not know what this job requires: leading monthly executive committee meetings, filing finance reports on time, certifying GOP candidates for the primary ballot, running precinct and Senate District conventions for the selection of delegates to the state convention, recruiting candidates, training candidates, recruiting precinct chairs, raising money and doing interviews. The job is unpaid. It offers constant headaches and very little gratitude.
Morrow has been an activist and author for many years. He has viciously attacked the Bush family, former Gov. Rick Perry and many others for some time. I won’t list his comments here. Google him if you dare, but be forewarned that his social media accounts are so ugly that under no circumstances should children see them.
In the past 48 hours, his election has made international news, with his anti-Semitic comments being covered in Israel. This story has been featured in The New York Times, on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, and even on Al Jazeera America.
Democrats are already signaling that they will use Morrow’s incendiary past (and present) against our candidates up and down the ballot.
So what can be done?
First, we will try to remove him as chairman before he takes office on June 13. Second, we will try to persuade him to resign. Third, we will constrain his ability to function, preventing access to party bank accounts, social media, email lists and data. Finally, if all those efforts fail, I will start an alternate organization locally to support GOP candidates and then campaign to unseat him in two years.
A few people have asked me if I'm concerned about overturning the will of the voters. I would be, if this office served taxpayers and the broader public. But this is a political job, leading a political organization. Literally no one will be disadvantaged if Morrow is removed from office.
For the past two years, under James Dickey’s leadership and the work of our executive board, the Travis County GOP has grown into a successful county party. We have raised tens of thousands of dollars, held fundraisers featuring U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, supported our candidates at the county and local level and specifically worked to successfully elect three Republicans to the Austin City Council. We will now work to help all Republicans on the ballot this fall, with special focus on re-electing Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty and electing Travis County District Attorney candidate Maura Phelan.
We have a lot of work to do. We will continue doing it. We will not let a purposefully controversial and vulgar man be a distraction to our efforts.
If Robert Morrow really cares about defeating Democrats, he should choose to resign. It would be the noble thing for him to do.