At first blush, it appeared that former La Marque Mayor Geraldine Sam filed as a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate because she was mad at incumbent Ted Cruz. As a delegate to the Republican National Convention last summer, she unloaded on Cruz when he made a prime-time speech and declined to endorse Donald Trump as the party nominee. Instead, he urged delegates to vote for their conservative principles.
“You lied to me. You lied and said you were going to support the party nominee, and you won’t. Then you lied to me. And I’m very upset at this time,” Sam told a reporter at the convention. “I came to this convention as a Cruz delegate, and I’m leaving supporting Donald Trump as the party nominee.”
Cruz did endorse Trump two months later, and Sam has since forgiven him. “After a while I started looking at things as to why Ted was angry and did not endorse Trump at that time,” Sam told me. During the presidential campaign, Trump had called Cruz “lyin’ Ted,” insulted his wife’s looks, and said Cruz’s father was involved in a 1963 plot to kill President Kennedy.
Now, Sam’s anger is directed at Trump. “I just look at some of the things the president is doing, and I just don’t agree with those things. I want him to be presidential. I want him to stop tweeting at all hours of the morning, calling mother’s children SOBs. Those are things a lot of us don’t agree with.”
Sam told me she was particularly bothered when Trump recently claimed that the parents of three UCLA basketball players jailed on shoplifting charges did not show him enough gratitude when China released them. “I should have left them in jail!” Trump tweeted after the fact.
“When you do things for people, you should do it out of the goodness of your heart, and not as a Godfather figure expecting them to bow down to you,” Sam said.
Perhaps, like me, you are slightly confused by now. So, to recap: Sam was mad at Cruz, but she isn’t anymore. She’s now mad at Trump, but she’s going to show it by running against Cruz in the Republican primary.
She plans to run a grassroots campaign, but more than anything she wants to make a statement that the Republican Party is headed in the wrong direction. “When I look at the tax reform that is coming down, when I look at Medicare and Medicaid, when I look at health care, the way those things are coming down, it looks as if we don’t care about the people we are representing,” she told me. “You can’t balance the budget on the backs of senior citizens, people on welfare.”
Sam, 66, is a retired elementary school teacher and a perennial candidate in the Galveston area. She ran for the La Marque city council in 1985, 1990, and 2004; for mayor in 1992; and for Congress in 1994 and 1996. In 2009, she actually won an election and became the first African-American mayor of La Marque. However, the following year, prompted by a contract dispute, two city council members were recalled by voters. Their supporters then mounted a successful recall election against Sam in 2011. She claimed it was based on racism. Her detractors said they were reacting to incompetence in office.
So far, Sam is the only Republican to file as a candidate for Senate. Houston energy lawyer Stefano de Stefano has also said he will challenge Cruz, as has Christian broadcasting executive Bruce Jacobson Jr. of North Richland Hills. Democrat Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, a congressman from El Paso, officially filed as a candidate for Senate on Monday by turning in a petition with 15,000 signatures.