GOP endorsements raise eyebrows

After the Ector County Republican Party announced endorsements of three local candidates for the March 6 Primary, questions were raised if the decision was legal or violated party bylaws.

Ector County Chair Tisha Crow said there is nothing in law that prohibits the party from endorsing a candidate in the primary, although it is uncommon.

“Since I’ve been chair, we have not done it until now,” Crow said, who’s been the party chair for about nine years.

The bylaws that make up the local party are whatever the group passes and the party has to follow the law, she added. As long as it doesn’t violate the group’s bylaws it is legal. However, she added that she could see how people could get confused between the Ector County Republican Party and the Ector County Republican Women’s club. The group is the governing body for the party in the county, whereas the ECRW is a club that has a membership and collects dues.

ECRW President Sherry Hurt said the club has not endorsed any candidates for the primary election.

“I would just like to say that ECRW supports all Republican candidates equally and wants to thank all candidates for their time and interest in wanting to make Ector County a better place. ECRW does not endorse any candidates during the March primary,” Hurt said.

The three candidates endorsed were Debi Hays for County Judge, Arlo Chavira for Precinct 4 county commissioner and Greg Simmons for Precinct 2 county commissioner. Hays serves as the vice chair of the Republican Party and Chavira serves as the secretary — positions that do not allow the two to vote during any meetings, Crow said.

“The only people who can vote are precinct chairs and in the case of a tie, myself,” she said. “If you appoint someone to secretary, treasurer or vice chair then they can’t vote, but they can participate in discussion.”

Crow said when the Ector County Republican Party’s executive committee met to vote on whether or not to endorse the three candidates, Hays and Chavira did not participate in the discussion, but remained in the room during the vote.

“I think they thought they felt it was a little self-serving,” Crow said of why they didn’t participate in the discussion. “I can’t understand why they would be expected to step out when they know they can’t vote. No one felt compelled to vote one way or another.”

While they have had many contentious discussions and voting matters in the past, Crow said, “This wasn’t like that. It was very straight forward.”

The precinct chairs who were present voted unanimously to endorse all three. In a news release, Crow said the candidates were chosen for endorsement because of their extensive involvement in the community and the Republican Party.