Tuesday, July 10, 2012

RHCIA Holds GOP Debate for Harris Co Sheriff

Tuesday night the Republican Hispanic Citizens in Action held a forum for the two GOP candidates in a run-off for Harris County sheriff.  This event was billed as the "Epic Battle of the Year".

   I enjoyed meeting the father of U.S.Senate candidate Ted Cruz. He is a sincere and humble man with a strong fighting spirit. A pastor, he blessed the meeting with prayer. He is a long time conservative activist in Republican politics. He spoke of his work in the Reagan campaign and of his habit of talking about politics at the family dinner table when Ted was a boy.

   R.W. Bray was introduced to the audience and allowed to speak, too. He is the President of Young Republicans of Houston. He is running for Tx Senate, District 6. Currently in Democratic control, Bray wants to bring the conservative message to his district. He is a Hurricane Katrina survivor and made Houston his home after that storm. Should he be successful, Bray would be the first black Republican in the Texas senate seat.

   Though this event was billed as an epic battle, what it was was a one-sided deliberate attack on candidate Carl Pittman. That is the only conclusion I come to after the experience. I don't mind that the audience was maybe 90% filled with supporters of Louis Guthrie. That can happen at a political meeting. What I did mind was that both campaigns agreed to the ground rules - one of which was to not go negative on the other candidate.

   I am not working with either campaign. I am, however, a supporter of Carl Pittman.

   Jack Cagle was the moderator and I think he did a fair job of it. He remained impartial and that was appreciated.

  An interesting exchange occurred as Cagle asked the candidates if they would like to comment on a recent story about the race in the Houston Chronicle. Pittman said he didn't hold the Chronicle in particularly high regard but supports the First Amendment and all that that entails. Guthrie said that the newspaper is run by "Commie hippies". Classy, right? He shows a definite lack of a verbal filter, certainly in public.

   The forum ended on a sour note. Unless you were a devout Guthrie follower, which many were, it can't be denied that Guthrie went into good ole boy mode to yuk it up. Some folks like that system of government, I understand. Those voting in the GOP primary in the D.A. race proved that. I cannot remember the last time I left a political event feeling as I did after this one. As I left, I went up to a member of the group who put forth the ground rules to the campaign and also asked the last four questions - those described as "surprise" questions. When Mr. Guthrie went negative in his closing remarks, she didn't call him on it and that was unfortunate, to say the least. She told me and another audience member that she didn't know he would do that and was surprised. We both told her she should have spoken up, for the audience's sake and for transparency.

   Fair is fair.

   That aside, the final remarks came after the final four "surprise" questions, which were clearly written by the Guthrie campaign. All four had to do with the resume of Mr. Guthrie and it was one-sided, to say the least. Also, the specifics of the questions had little to do with the job both seek. In the final remarks, Carl Pittman went first. He asked for support and he spoke of the importance of knowing the Constitution and of public safety being the top priority. He didn't attack his opponent. Mr. Guthrie started off his final remarks by declaring that there are differences between the two - some visible, some not. Mr. Guthrie is white and Mr. Pittman is black. Classy, right? It plays into the talk on the campaign trail of the racism expressed in hushed tones. Truly disappointing. Guthrie went on to state that he has only contributed to Republican candidates in his life and attacked Pittman at this point again. And he boasted of not being endorsed in the primary by the Houston Chronicle, as Mr. Pittman was the candidate the newspaper endorsed. What Mr. Guthrie didn't mention is that he sought the endorsement as did the others running in the primary. Mr. Pittman did not bring up the endorsement as he spoke, I might add.

   This is one nasty political battle. Both candidates have a past. Mr. Pittman has one incident in his professional folder. It was of a personal nature and has been dispelled publicly. Mr. Pittman is still employed with the Harris County Sheriff Department.  Mr. Guthrie cannot make that claim. There are many incidents, all of a professional nature. His last incident, for which he was fired, is still under appeal. His type of campaign is very much the kind of the past. We all deserve better.

   I was going to lay low about this race but after tonight's performances, I have decided to be silent no more. More to come on this campaign later. I'm still cooling off.

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