The Travis County GOP has voted to limit the power of incoming chairman Robert Morrow, a controversial figure whose surprise election earlier this year shook up local politics in Texas' fifth-largest county.
In a meeting Tuesday night, the party's executive committee approved the creation of an eight-member steering committee that will assume many of the duties typically held by the chairman. The committee had considered that and a second proposal Tuesday night, one that would have transferred power from the chairman to an executive vice chairman.
The committee acted five days before Chairman James Dickey's term expires, paving the way for the bombastic Morrow to take over. The committee also voted to transfer the party's funds to a new group, Friends of the Travis County Republican Party.
Morrow unexpectedly beat Dickey in the March 1 elections, winning the reins of the Republican Party in a liberal hotbed in Texas that is nonetheless home to a number of top Republicans such as Gov. Greg Abbott. Since then, Morrow has drawn national attention for his conspiracy theories involving political figures and vulgar, sexually explicit tweets.
In the run-up to the meeting Tuesday, Morrow had expressed no qualms about the party's plan of action, saying it would still allow him to use the platform of chairman to draw attention to his crusades against former and current elected officials. His targets include Lyndon B. Johnson, the Clintons and more recently, Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
"Those changes are fine with me because I want to facilitate the continued functioning of the Travis County Republican Party," Morrow said shortly before the meeting. "However, I will continue to hold the bully pulpit and continue to hold political criminals of both parties accountable."
"They’re going to be nice to me. I’m going to be nice to them," added Morrow, who did not attend the meeting. "We’re going to keep the party running."
Before the committee voted on the proposals, party officials sought to convince members Morrow's chairmanship would not spell doom for the organization. Andy Hogue led members in chants of "We're bigger than that!" — the tagline of a new social media campaign — and T.J. Scott held a mirror up to the precinct chairs, arguing it is them — not people like Morrow — who are the face of the party.