The normal tension and heat within the Republican Party of Texas has risen several degrees on the thermometer. And, this time it’s over race.
State Republican Executive Committee member from Senatorial District 11, J.T. Edwards, is calling out Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler for being ineffective in growing the party through new black voters. Edwards appeared on RagingElephantsRadio.com in April to charge Mechler with not following through on his repeated promise to put heavy resources and emphasis on bringing more black voters into the party here in Texas. The result has been tensions rising between longtime black activists and officeholders in the Texas GOP over the issue of black voter engagement.
At one point during the interview conducted by Apostle Claver T. Kamau-Imani, Edwards exclaimed in complete exasperation toward Chairman Mechler, “Do your damn job!”
Feelings inside and outside the party were already being rubbed raw over the efforts of the Texas GOP to attract more black Texas voters prior to a meeting that was organized and held in Dallas in late March, 2017. Black conservative leaders, all aligned to the Texas GOP met face-to-face. Others who had schedule conflicts and couldn’t travel to the Metroplex, like J.T. Edwards, attended via telephone. R.W. Bray, Director of Black Engagement for the Texas GOP, had a place on the meeting agenda to report on what efforts and progress the party has made toward the goal of a larger black presence in the party.
In his exclusive interview with RagingElephantsRadio.com, Edwards claimed that Bray’s report was not met with universal approval and took some hits. Edwards complained that the report was not accurate and honest. The lack of progress and honesty deeply troubled Edwards.
“Basically, we received a briefing from our dear friend and brother, R.W., that was akin to parting the sea, turning water into wine, healing the sick and making the blind see.” Edwards is known to be a no-holds-barred, blunt communicator when in a bad mood. From the opening moments of his exclusive RER interview, it was pretty apparent that he was in a bad mood.
“At the end of his presentation the question was asked (of Bray) ‘Where’s your number? Where’s the metrics?’ There is none,” said Edwards.
In the eyes of Edwards, that was the two major points that he’s concerned about in regards to Bray. First, the briefing that he gave was so glowing, and that there’s no data collected to determine how effective any efforts have been to grow the party with black voters.
“We walked away scratching our heads saying there is no black engagement. There is no black outreach.” To bolster his argument that there should be some collection of data and compiled metrics on black voter growth, Edwards said, “The Latino engagement director, the Asian engagement director, come up with numbers, stats, figures, everything. And, we have nooothing!”
Now entering into the mix comes Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler.
On April 1, an email thread was started by respected Houston black Republican, Bill Calhoun of the Texas Federation of Black Outreach. The email was provided to RagingElephantsRadio.com by Edwards.
Public officeholders and Texas GOP officials on the email thread included: State Rep. James White (R-Woodville RER85), Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler, Texas GOP National Committeeman Dr. Robin Armstrong, and State Republican Executive Committee members Stephen Broden, Tina Gibson, along with Edwards and Bray.
From what was submitted to us by Edwards, it seems the email started blandly with Calhoun and White going back and forth over the age-old argument of what is the best strategy to attract black voters and how to ride on the coattails of Trump’s presidential victory.
But, then Edwards added an email to the thread that flat out challenged the Republican Party’s dedication to achieving racial diversity. “The real question on the floor is: will the RPT finally recognize and respect its historical roots or is it truly a Party of White People?
I wonder if my SREC colleagues and members are ashamed?”
11 minutes later, Edwards sent another email, “Furthermore, are black, loyal members of our Party just tokens?”
Calhoun tried to steer the conversation back to strategy, messaging, and Trump. That didn’t deter Edwards as he charged that the party “doesn’t want to protect minority candidates”.
Then Calhoun showed his agreement with Edwards, “That is why I was so disappointed in the small number of voters that R. W.’s engagement strategy has developed.” Calhoun went on to write, “Bray is but one guy. We need tools to spread the word, a destination for voters to arrive at and a simple message that they can share. This is not complicated.”
And, then Edwards went directly after Mechler in his next email.
“Platitudes are not a strategy, I don’t think Mechler is interested (it shows). I know he is on this email.
He know I know his approach SUCKS.
The daunting thing is: the inability to listen due to bias.
It was the Chairman who said the map is changing in 2019. Here is a fact, deportations are thru the roof AHEAD of 2019, so now who you turn to?
Oh that’s right.. The dependable voters: Black People!!!!
*throws hands up in the air*
Make me wrong Tom.
Tom “Water Boy” Mechler took the bait. He responded directly to Edwards.
I don’t want there to be any confusion. RW Bray is doing an extraordinary job, is proceeding in the exact manner I have asked him to, and he has my complete confidence. It’s unfortunate that you have chosen to be one that persists in tearing down instead of building up. We have made significant progress in the area of RPT Black Engagement and will continue to do so under Bray’s leadership.
(Note: Chairman Mechler earned the nickname “Water Boy” for the now-famous recording of him stating that the way to get legislation passed that the liberty movement desires is to “carry the water” for the officeholders. If they are opposed they will oppose.)
It’s the only entry in the thread from Mechler. It lit the fire hotter under Edwards and he tore into Mechler.
Where are the metrics?
Tear down? With due respect, I find it frightenedly insulting. Accountability is the order of the day and that’s your job.
Edwards dominated the email thread from that point with no others participating. He continued to hammer on the lack of verifiable data that black voters are being added to the RPT files, and that the only number mentioned has been 120 black voters that are members of the MLK, Jr. Association.
Edwards’ last thread entry made clear his passion for the party and why he’s making such a fuss.
“Never accuse me of tearing this party of ours down. I bleed, eat, sleep, and cross the blazing Sands for us.
It mocks what we are.
You are better Tom.
As a candidate for Chairman at the 2010 Texas GOP state convention, Mechler made growing the party through racial diversity with a heavy concentration on black voters, an essential plank of his campaign platform.
Elected to the Chairmanship by the SREC in a 2015 special election to complete the term of retiring Chairman Steve Munisteri, Mechler specifically mentioned party diversity in his acceptance speech. In an interview with RagingElephantsRadio.com immediately after the meeting’s adjournment, Mechler was asked of his comment to the challenge, and he repeated his commitment to advancing racial diversity in the party. His statement is included in the RERhotclip attached to this article.
The RERhotclip of Edwards’ exclusive interview goes into greater and deeper detail about the racial tensions that seem to be seeping to the fore at Texas GOP headquarters in Austin, and between party officials.
In a follow up article, Texas GOP Director of Black Engagement, R.W. Bray will respond to the charges of SREC Committeeman J.T. Edwards.
Copyright©2017 Raging Elephants Radio LLC