Conservative leaders across the Lone Star State are becoming increasingly frustrated with Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler for his failure to aggressively advocate for the party’s legislative priorities.
For a number of years, conservatives have been distrustful of Mechler. Indeed, he’s more often been arrayed against them rather than standing with them. In 2014, Mechler helped lead the effort at the party’s state convention to include controversial language supporting a “guest worker” program in the party platform that was dubbed the “Texas Solution.” Mechler’s immigration plan was soundly rejected by the party delegates in a major floor fight during the convention.
And in his first email to Republican Party supporters after being appointed chairman, Mechler signaled that he would become involved in primary elections to attack those who criticize the records of incumbent Republicans.
Mechler, a soft-spoken oilman from Amarillo, served as the Republican Party of Texas’ treasurer prior to running for chairman of the party in a special election to replace then-Chairman Steve Munisteri, who resigned to join Sen. Rand Paul’s (R–KY) presidential campaign. With the decision in the hands of the State Republican Executive Committee, Mechler won the election with only a minor portion of the body opposed.
Though the party gave Mechler the benefit of the doubt and re-elected him as party chairman at the last convention, they also put in an accountability provision. Shortly after Mechler was re-installed, delegates also established five legislative priorities and directed him to “utilize reasonable Party resources necessary to promote and support passage.”
One has only to look at the tape to conclude that Mechler has failed in his charge. Out of the party’s five legislative priorities, only one of them has been passed by the Texas Legislature—and only one more has a chance of partially passing.
The priorities are:
- Constitutional Carry—killed in the Texas House by House Speaker Joe Straus and State Rep. Phil King (R–Weatherford).
- Abolishing Abortion—killed in the Texas House by State Affairs Chairman Byron Cook (R–Corsicana).
- Securing the Border—the budget passed by the Texas House defunds border security efforts by $125 million; any increase will be due to the efforts of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Texas Senate.
- Article V Convention of States—passed both chambers earlier this month.
- Abolishing Property Taxes—killed in the Texas House.
Of all these issues, only one – an Article V Convention of States – has been rigorously promoted by Mechler. On the other priorities he’s been largely absent—even refusing requests for comment or interview by Texas Scorecard and other publications.
A review of legislative records shows that he’s only testified on two issues this session, the same number he testified on before the RPT established its legislative priorities.
Mechler’s record outside of the party’s official priorities is equally abhorrent. He’s failed to effectively advocate for school choice, religious liberty, union dues reform, and the Texas Privacy Act. Each of these issues are “red meat” items that should have no problem passing in a Republican state, especially one in which a Democrat hasn’t been elected statewide for two decades and the GOP enjoys near super-majorities in both chambers of the legislature.
Texas Republicans’ frustrations with Mechler aren’t a matter of personal politics, they’re a result of his failure to deliver on the promises he made to grassroots activists. Similar failures are the source of growing resentment for lawmakers like Republican State Reps. Tan Parker (Flower Mound) and Ron Simmons (Carrollton) who have abandoned their conservative principles in pursuit of promotion within House Speaker Joe Straus’ crony cabal.
Every Republican claims to be conservative, to fight for limited government and individual liberty, but so many of them buckle and surrender at the first sign of resistance.
In the words of Texas’ own Sen. Ted Cruz we must ask each lawmaker and each party official, “When have you stood up and fought? When have you been willing to stand against Republicans? When have you stood with the people?”
Voters, activists, and engaged Republicans are no longer looking for mere glad-handing sycophants who will show up at Reagan Day dinners to shake hands and kiss babies. They’re searching for hard-knuckled fighters who will stand up and aggressively advocate for them.
Mechler has shown himself to be one of the former.
Sources are telling Texas Scorecard that Mechler may be resigning as early as this week. Republican activists would be wise to choose someone with a proven record of advocating for conservative reform and candidates to replace him.