In addition to the letter that I posted and wrote about on Wednesday, in which Strake urged Republicans to ask Kay Bailey Hutchison not to run for governor, Strake, as several published reports have noted, is the new campaign treasurer for Tom Mechler’s campaign for Republican Party chairman, a position that is currently filled by Cathie Adams. Guess what? Strake wants Adams to step aside. The State Republican Executive Committee elected Adams in October to finish out the term of Tina Benkiser, who resigned to join the Perry campaign. It will elect a new chair in June. If Strake is worried about a bloodbath, it seems obvious that the best way to avoid one is for Mechler not to challenge Adams. Why should the duly elected chair be the one to give way?
It’s clear what is going on here. Perry is not comfortable with Adams as chair, even though she has endorsed him for governor. But Adams is no one’s toady. Loose cannon is more like it. She criticized Perry in the past over his executive order for HPV vaccinations and for the Trans-Texas Corridor. What most worries Perry, I suspect, is Adams’ propensity for making extremist statements, as when she wrote of President George W. Bush in 2003, as chair of the Texas Eagle Forum, “While our President enjoys high polling numbers because of his leadership in the war against terror, we cannot look the other way when he elevates homosexuals and homosexual sympathizers to key positions within the White House and within the GOP.” Or, more recently, when she compared Obama to Hitler before the president’s speech to school children: “If parents want their children to view the president, then they have ample opportunities at home without taking time away from their studies. This is eerily like Hitler’s youth movement… .” Perry doesn’t need his party chair out there going rogue in the middle of an election.
Mechler fits the profile of a solid Perry guy – an Aggie, an oilman, an appointee to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice board (now its vice-chairman). He and fellow SREC member Mark McCaig separately announced their intentions to challenge Benkiser for reelection as party chair earlier this year, speeding her departure. Perry’s governorship is all about being pro-business, but Adams holds views on issues like illegal immigration that are incompatible with the labor needs of the state’s business community.
If Strake’s letter is any indication, Adams is not destined for a long run as GOP chair. Perry can’t take the risk.
It is my gut feeling that Mechler and the Perry camp are, at the very least, in cahoots. While Perry was quick to tout Cathie’s endorsement for Governor, she has been quick to criticize him in the past on issues like the Trans Texas Corridor and the HPV vaccine. Cathie also holds views on issues such as illegal immigration that are the opposite of TAB and other politically influential business interests. Mechler, on the other hand, is in the oil business himself, is a Perry appointee to the TDCJ, and has a much closer relationship to the business interests that Perry is close to (and I would argue carries water for). Mechler’s previous campaign treasurer, Gaylord Hughey, is a registered lobbyist with a client list that includes Pilgrim’s Pride.