March 18, 2020
State Party Leader Raves about President's Actions
to Coronavirus in High-Stakes Re-Election Bid Wager
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
The Texas GOP lavished praise on President Donald Trump on Wednesday for his guidance during the coronavirus crisis that he'd characterized three weeks ago as a media hoax that had been cooked up by the Democrats.
State Republican Party Chairman James Dickey took the opportunity to shower Trump with superlatives in an email congratulating the president for victories in primary elections in Arizona, Florida and Illinois that put him over the top in the number of national convention delegates that he needed for the nomination in his bid for re-election in 2020.
The stellar review from a state party chief who'd seem to be distancing himself from Trump last year could be viewed as a sign of desperation at a time when he's facing a significant threat in his campaign for a new term in the leadership post with a challenge from a heavily-armed foe at a state GOP convention that was moved this week from May to July.
Garland Republican Allen West - a combat veteran who represented a Florida congressional district eight years ago - established himself as a formidable candidate in a race for state GOP chair when he raised almost a half-million dollars in the final five months of 2019 when Dickey generated about $25,000 for the re-election race. More than half of West's campaign cash came from Richard Uihlein - a wealthy Chicago-area resident who contributed massive sums to candidates on the right like U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
Dickey claimed the chairmanship in a special election that the State Republican Executive Committee conducted in 2017 before winning a full term at the Texas party convention in San Antonio the following year. It's impossible to tell at this point on how a two-month delay in the staging of the 2020 state confab could affect the race for state chair with no guarantee that the convention will be held at the tentative new date this summer.
Dickey got it right on two of the three states that he listed in the latest Trump win column from Tuesday's primary elections. But the president didn't have a chance to win in Arizona where the GOP had voted last year to cancel the primary election there this year. But that's a relatively insignificant mistake in light of the fact that Trump would have prevailed in an Arizona primary and appears to be in line to receive all of the Grand Canyon State's 57 delegates that will be chosen at activist conventions if they are held amid the COVID-19 threat. .
Dickey suggested that the most serious health emergency and the dramatic impact that it's having on American society hadn't put a dent in the "unrivaled enthusiasm" that Trump has inspired among GOP voters with the "incredible results" that he's achieved as the nation's top leader. Dickey was especially impressed with the president's action in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We thank President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for their leadership in the handling of the Coronavirus crisis," Dickey proclaimed. "The Republican Party of Texas joins President Trump and Vice President Pence is doing our part to support their tireless efforts to slow the spread of Coronavirus."
Dickey is following the lead of U.S. Senator John Cornyn and other Texas Republicans who've hitched their stars to Trump in a state that the White House nominees for the GOP have carried in every election since 1976. Dickey's gusher of acclaim for Trump appears to be a much riskier gamble now, however, at a time when many Republicans are upset with the president's belated response to COVID-19 when he spent several weeks contradicting the experts before an 180-degree turn in the past week.
"Republicans across the United States, including our Republican voters in Texas, have made it clear that President Trump is the champion needed right now for the American people," Dickey said.
"It is more clear than ever that President Trump is the leader we need to get us through this unprecedented time in our country. The November election is coming and we must do our part in Texas to deliver President Trump our electoral votes."