GOP Ousts Robert Morrow? Maybe.

State chair claims Travis County chair resigned

Former (or maybe not) Travis County Republican Party Chair Robert Morrow at this week's Austin rally for Donald Trump (Photo by John Anderson)

Has there been a political feud more hilarious this season than the Travis County Republican Party versus their own chair, Robert Morrow? Well, that may have come to an end – or at least a turning point – after state chair Tom Mechler issued a statement saying that Morrow has resigned. Well, ish.

It was clear that something was afoot when the county party issued a media advisory scheduling a press event for Friday morning about an "important announcement ... involving the future of the local GOP." The warning sign was that the event was to be hosted by Acting TCRP Chair David Duncan. Of course, that raised the question of what had happened to the actual chair.

After that hand-tipping, Mechler spilled the beans Thursday afternoon:

In accordance with state law, upon filing as a write-in candidate for President of the United States on August 19th, 2016, Robert Morrow became ineligible to hold the office of Travis County Republican Chair. There is absolutely no place for rhetoric as distasteful as Mr. Morrow’s in the Republican Party of Texas. We are excited to move forward with the Travis County GOP and the new incoming Chair as soon as an election is held to fill the position.

Mechler included Morrow's filing. However, what's interesting here is that headline is "Chairman Tom Mechler Statement on the Immediate Resignation of the Travis County GOP Chair." Which makes this sound a lot less like Morrow was pushed than he jumped.

Morrow filing to run against Republican nominee Donald Trump has the air of treachery in a season when the GOP has had more than enough problems emulating party unity. However, it's also pretty much the least of his political sins against the party.

This election season has seen nothing but escalation between Morrow and his own party leadership. It all began when Morrow decided to run against previous county chair James Dickey and, against all odds, beat him. As soon as the notorious firebrand took office, he made it very clear that he was fundamentally disinterested in the day-to-day rigmarole of running a local party. Instead, he declared that “I am using the chairman spot of the Travis County Republican Party as a bully pulpit for political truth-telling." That seemingly included announcing he would turn up at Trump's Austin rally with a sign accusing the GOP nominee of being a child rapist.

Of course, none of this is any surprise to anyone that has followed Morrow's career as Austin's most notable political nuisance. Every reporter in town has a folder full of emails tackling his conspiracy theories about political figures: LBJ (per Morrow, had Kennedy killed), Clinton (in Morrow's book, a serial rapist who had everyone he ever worked with assassinated), and Rick Perry (quoting Morrow, "a rampaging bisexual adulterer" and "a pink cowboy leading a parade of extremist preachers and militaristic neocons." No, really. Morrow once took out a full page ad in this very publication asking for any "young hottie" with dirt on Perry.

The county party had already disavowed any connection to Morrow's rhetoric (in fact, they did that barely a week after he was elected). Then in June the Travis County Republican Party Executive Committee rewrote the party bylaws, moving most of the chair's duties over to an executive vice chair. That actually seems to play into Morrow's declared intention of being a loud voice, not an administrator, but to make doubly sure they handed the party's mailing lists and bank account over to a new entity, the Friends of the Travis County Republican Party.

However, they still couldn't get rid of him. Now it seems that Morrow has given them a legal out, and the state and county party are quite happy to take advantage of it.

Of course, this means that Morrow is back to being a free agent – although it's hard to see how much more damage he can do standing outside the tent than he did inside. That may well be answered at the TCRP's Friday press conference.

After all, it's unlikely that he will go quietly into the good night. He's already taken to Twitter to repeat his allegations about Trump, Perry, and Clinton, then tell Gabriel Nila (the GOPer challenging besieged incumbent Democrat Dawnna Dukes) that he will get his "ass kicked by a criminal Democrat with more luggage than a fully loaded 747."

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Travis County Republican Party, Robert Morrow, Republican Party of Texas, Election 2016, Tom Mechler

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