Note: The following commentary was submitted to Odessa Headlines for publication with permission from the author. The following opinion belongs to the author alone and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of Odessa Headlines. To submit a commentary, email editor@odessaheadlines.com.

There I was, minding my own business, and suddenly all chaos breaks out in the Odessa political scene.

What happened you ask? Well, sit back, pop some popcorn and grab a chair, I am about to tell you what everyone knows but is too afraid to put in print.

A group of folks affectionately nicknamed the “business mafia,” but I like to just say the swamp, are still sore that the Republican Party-backed candidates for Odessa City Council led by the leadership of totally awesome Ector County Republican Party Chairwoman Tisha Crow, spanked 3 out of 4 of their candidates, busting up their decades-long control of the council.

That, combined with the fact the state Republican Party is making a special initiative next year to join up with local parties to elect conservative Republicans to local governments, struck fear in their hearts.

You see they are only one vote away on the council from their gravy train being stopped dead in its tracks, and all three of their allies (two RINOs and a Democrat) on the city council are up for election next year.

This just made the Ector County GOP chair position the most dangerous thing to their domination, especially if the party backs good conservative republicans for these races.

I have been hearing through the political grapevine that over the past two months, a group has been drafting and preparing a candidate that they planned to file in a last-minute ambush against Tisha Crow and run a well-funded mudslinging campaign to try and oust her as party chair. Imagine being so desperate that you plan to spend a bunch of money on a county party chair race, but I digress.

Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for all the “regular” people in Ector County), their plotting hit a brick wall this week, when they realized that a new state law requires a candidate for county party chair to get 10 percent of the incumbent precinct chairs to sign a petition supporting their candidacy to run.

I am told this new rule came about because an insane pervert was elected as the chair of one of the largest county GOP parties in the state, and it is only fair if parties can prevent unqualified individuals from taking over key leadership roles in the party.

In Ector County, all that is needed is two signatures.

Suddenly all chaos breaks out, and when within a short amount of time that day they were unable to con, demand, deceive or beg a total of two signatures out of the precinct chairs, they went to the newspaper publishing wild accusations and lies that the paper didn’t verify before they published.

Richard Pierce, who is their prospective candidate and who I previously liked and may have voiced my support if he had approached this all above board, took to Facebook and made accusations that the party is trying to “control” who they want in all the local offices, and characterized everyone who would not sign his petition as election rigging democrats.

Well, Mr. Pierce, the nature and purpose of a POLITICAL PARTY is to get their candidates elected to office. Anyone who lacks this basic understanding of what a party does shouldn’t be allowed within a million miles of any leadership post.

Secondly, I take offense to your characterization of those who wouldn’t support you. After hearing from multiple chairs, all you did was demand they sign – offering no information about who you are, what makes you qualified, what you will do in office. No wonder you cannot get two signatures, they are not the type to be bullied.

Lastly, your statements to the newspaper are ridiculous and untrue. Your complaint about Crow not supporting your campaign to challenger her is mind boggling – in what world is someone expected to support their challenger? Further, you claimed I didn’t respond to your solicitations for support and that I didn’t support you. That is funny because I never heard from you before I read your comments in the newspaper, and you lied by implying I was one of only two elected precinct chairs on the board.

Then, confirming everything I have been hearing,  the faces of those behind this effort begin to emerge.

Ronnie Lewis, who I have screenshots of conversing with members of the Ector County Democrat Party discussing how he is going to team up with the Democrats to “get rid” of the Ector County GOP leadership, with Ronnie elaborating how Democrats can help by “crossing over” and voting the Republicans out, was one of the first faces to pop up.

Ronnie has been badgering almost every precinct chair, demanding they sign Mr. Pierce’s petition, and went to the newspaper spreading what he is full of, saying Tisha “rules with an iron fist” and that she forces loyalty oaths and implying she somehow single-handedly appoints precinct chair vacancies.

Precinct chair vacancies are required to be filled by a majority of the board, and the board makes decisions by majority vote and adheres to Robert’s Rules of Order. As usual he just says whatever he needs to get his way, and hopes people take the bait. 

There are the others; Judy Calloway, who is their lone signer, Ector County Judge Debi Hays, who has been losing support among conservative Republicans because of her disastrous leadership and is helping them out with this project to shore up a new line of support amongst the moderate and left wings of the primary voters.

Then there is Tim Edgemon, who is chairman of the piggy bank… Err uhh I meant to say Odessa Economic Development Corporation, who told the newspaper that Tisha can somehow control who signs the petition and other fairy tales trying to make her sound like Thanos.

 There are more, but you get the picture.

 A good friend of mine described this situation well, I think. He said the way they are going at all the precinct chairs to sign reminded him of that scene in the Lord of the Rings where Gollum was an inch away from getting the ring, and their desperation to get one signature for their dark horse last-minute candidate is strangely similar.

As I previously stated, I used to like Mr. Pierce, I hope his behavior is simply because he’s acting under pressure from those who are around him. If he truly wants to lead the Party, my advice is he can start now by finding better friends, apologizing for his ridiculous statements, and by getting involved, volunteering like the rest of us have – investing countless hours of personal time, money, and sacrifice to make sure the party is successful and that Ector County politicians are as conservative as our voters.

I do not know whether he will get the needed signatures, but regardless, anyone who wants to lead the party needs to have actually been involved, be able to unify the party executive committee, and elect conservative republicans to every elected office.

Heck if you do that Tisha will probably hand you the party chair position. It is a tiring, thankless job.

In closing, I just want to add that our county party is very fortunate to have someone with the passion, and willingness to sacrifice the time and money to be party chair. Tisha Crow makes sure the elections work, candidates are supported, meetings are organized, and Texas stays bright red.

Aubrey Mayberry is from Odessa, Texas, has served as a Precinct Chair for the Ector County Republican Party, and is a recipient of the Texas Conservative Leaders Award.