The Harris County GOP Chairman race

The Houston Chronicle reports that County Judge Ed Emmett has endorsed Paul Simpson in his race for chairman of the Harris County GOP, against incumbent Jared Woodfill. Emmett, a Republican, is the highest ranking member of the county party, holding the de facto executive leadership role over Harris County.

The news was broken last night on Quorum Report, where it was also reported that Emmett had donated a generous $10,000.00 to Simpson’s campaign. As the astute may recall, this is Simpson’s –a local attorney– third bid against the incumbent chair. However, unlike a previous race, this year’s election simply features the two candidates, making Woodfill somewhat more vulnerable. Emmett blasted Woodfill as being out of touch and implicit in the recent losing streak of the party. Ronald Reagan would probably not be welcome in today’s Republican Party. I would like to see the base in Harris County to be 400,000, not 150,000,” Emmett says.

Today, Jared Woodfill hit back by announcing some big name supporters of his own. Two of the three Republican Harris County Commissioners (Jack Cagle and Jack Morman) endorsed Woodfill’s candidacy, as did both Emmett’s predecessor (Robert Eckels) and the Tax Assessor (Mike Sullivan). Given that Woodfill is the incumbent, it would be a waste of time to really dig in too deep as to why an officeholder might support him. Simply put, it is far safer to support an incumbent out of habit then warm up to the challenger (if [s]he wins) than to support the challenger then face a victorious incumbent.

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Save the Dome!

The Houston Chronicle reports that a Political Action Committee (PAC) has been formed to fight to save the Astrodome, pending a ballot measure on the November ballot. Not too long ago, the Commissioners Court approved placing the $217M bond issue this November, concurrent with the municipal elections and Statewide ballot measures.

The PAC is receiving endorsements from an all-star cast that includes current officers such as County Judge Ed Emmett and County Commissioner El Franco Lee, as well as former County Judges Jon Lindsay and Robert Eckels. Dene Hofheinz, daughter of former Mayor Roy Hofheinz and sister of former Mayor Fred Hofheinz, also made statements in support of the group.

The article in the Chronicle mentions the Offshore Technology Conference, which has historically met at the George R. Brown convention center Reliant stadium. The group now pledges that they would host the conference at the Astrodome, giving some business and economic opportunity to the project.

The article also mentions other opportunities for an Astrodome Convention Center, including the possibility of a political convention. The astute will remember that the 1992 Republican Convention was held at the Astrodome, so the idea is not truly unprecedented.

This group is giving a small bit of backing to the idea that Emmett & Co actually want the Astrodome to be saved.