Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Mechler resigned Saturday for personal reasons but with a warning that if the Texas GOP doesn’t make “our party look more like Texas,” the nation’s biggest red state could turn blue.
“As the demographics continue to change, our state will soon have a majority-minority voting age population. If we do not continue to make efforts to engage in the diverse communities across Texas, our state will turn blue,” Mechler wrote in his letter of resignation. “This is no longer just a possibility, it is an inevitable reality if we fail to act.”
Mechler’s resignation takes effect immediately. A successor will be chosen by the State Republican Executive Committee, which is made up of two members from each senatorial district, when it meets on June 3. Their choice would serve through the Republican State Convention in June 2018, when Mechler’s term was to have ended, at which time the delegates could either keep the new interim chair or elect a new one.
Mechler cited the toll the relentless pace of the post had taken on his family, amid a rocky time for his oil and gas business, as his reason for stepping down. But it was clear from his letter that infighting in the Texas GOP had also contributed to his decision.
“A party that is fractured by anger and backbiting is a party that will not succeed,” Mechler said in his letter. “It is no secret that our party is divided into factions. It is also no secret that those factions frequently throw rocks at each other. As I prepare to leave this role, my hope is that every faction of this party will treat each other with kindness and respect.”
“Though we may disagree on certain issues, we are all part of the same Republican, conservative family,” he wrote. “When we work together and treat each other with respect, we are stronger.”
There is no certain successor, but Rick Figueroa of Brenham, a member of President Donald Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council, said he planned to seek the job.
Mechler and Figueroa have been engaged in a Republican Party of Texas Hispanic Engagement Listening Tour across the state in recent months.
“He’s planted a lot of great seeds,” Figueroa said Saturday. “If the SREC and Republican Party would be inclined to elect me as chairman, I would begin to harvest those seeds.”
But Figueroa will be contested by other possible candidates including Travis County Republican Party Chairman James Dickey, and Mark Ramsey from Spring, who, as a well-liked executive committee member, might have an insider edge. Ramsey is chief of staff for state Rep. Valoree Swanson of Spring, a member of the Texas House Freedom Caucus.