Election 2004

God Squad Spanks Sager; Surprise! Limmer Gets a Pass


God Squad Spanks Sager

Who knew that a mundane component of local party politics – the election of precinct chairs – would become this year's sleeper for the Travis Co. Republicans?

Indeed, these way-down ballot races sparked some of the season's bloodiest campaigns, with a handful of contests drawing multiple candidates for seats in key GOP precincts in the March 9 primary. On Tuesday, party voters will decide the winner in four precinct chair run-offs, but don't expect the bickering to end there.

Last month, the post-primary feud spilled over into the state Senate District 14 convention, where members voted to censure Travis Co. party Chair Alan Sager for speaking out against fellow Republicans in his full-on drive to get his precinct recruits elected over the party's radical-right candidates and incumbents.

At issue, as always, is the ideological split between far-right Christians and the so-called Reagan-Bush Republicans with whom Sager is more closely aligned. They've been at odds since Sager's ascension to the chair four years ago, which led to the creation of a Christian-right PAC called Legacy, whose leaders include former GOP Chair Jan Galbraith. (A third, smaller faction, known as the Ron Paul Republicans, is out in left field, so to speak, with little good to say about either side. Two of the Ron Pauls are vying for separate precinct chair seats in Tuesday's run-off.)

Sager brushed off the SD 14 convention censure as a meaningless gesture in which about 200 of the attending 571 participants actually voted. "They're afraid they're going to lose control of the precincts," he said of the one place the Christian forces have enjoyed a stronghold in Travis Co. Sager said he himself enjoys support from many conservative Christians who are "turned off by the way [Legacy] operates." Legacy was designed to take control of the party, he said. "But I went out to find precinct chairs who would actually do some work." He said the public censure was brought on by one of his candidates ousting Bill Crocker, a Legacy leader who had been a six-year incumbent in a prestigious Tarrytown precinct. "My candidate [Kim Granger] beat him," Sager said. "That's the reason they censured me." Neither Crocker nor former county Chair Galbraith returned our phone calls. – Amy Smith


Surprise! Limmer Gets a Pass

It was business as usual in Williamson Co. last week when County Attorney Gene Taylor decided that he would not file any charges against County Commissioner Frankie Limmer for trashing an election sign several weeks before Election Day. In February, a sheriff's detective saw Limmer remove a "Vote No to Sheriff Jim" campaign sign near his office in Taylor and pitch it into a Dumpster. After being approached by the detective, Limmer retrieved the sign and replaced it.

In January, Limmer and the rest of the Commissioners Court had appointed Jim Wilson interim sheriff after former Sheriff John Maspero resigned his post amid a swirl of allegations of chronic public drunkenness. (Incidentally, Maspero has apparently bounced back from the ouster and is currently working at the deli counter at the Georgetown Wal-Mart Supercenter.) But don't go thinking Limmer defiantly removed the sign out of spite or righteous indignation that someone (Oh, the humanity!) didn't like Wilson, who in his brief tenure spawned almost as much controversy as Maspero. Rather, Limmer told the Austin American-Statesman, he was merely concerned that the sign was placed too close to a polling location.

Either way, the great sign-trashing scandal fizzled last week when lame duck Taylor (who got trounced on March 9 by challenger Jana Duty) brushed the whole thing off – while also denying that he waited to investigate until after the election only because Limmer is his buddy. "It's kind of like no harm, no foul," he told the Statesman. "I made the determination immediately that [Limmer] put the sign back immediately. With all the crap that went on this election, that's so minimal I wouldn't even blink an eye at it." Sheriff Wilson will himself soon be but a fleeting memory, since he failed to make the Tuesday run-off; he'll be succeeded (there's no Democrat running) by either former Texas DPS Director James R. Wilson or former sheriff's Deputy Rick Faught.


ENDORSEMENTS

The Chronicle once again offers to you its endorsement of incumbent Maria Canchola in the Precinct 4 constable's race. We offer no endorsement in the GOP run-off races.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Alan Sager, Ron Paul, Jan Galbraith, Bill Crocker, Kim Granger, radical right, Senate District 14, SD 14, Gene Taylor, Frankie Limmer, Jim Wilson, James R. Wilson, Williamson County, John Maspero

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