The Republican Party of Bell County did not receive well the news last week about a candidate forum being hosted in its county by state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville.
The party said in a press release late last week that they received word of a Senate District 24 candidate forum hosted by “an outside source.” Bell County GOP chairwoman Nancy Boston said she did not know Burton, who represents Senate District 10 in Tarrant County, was the host of the forum when the release was published and that she received no information about the forum from Burton or her staff.
“No one even contacted me about the forum, so I don’t know anything about it," Boston said. "I know that this lady represents part of Tarrant County."
The Bell County GOP indicated that it plans to host its own SD-24 candidate forum in January. Burton’s forum was initially scheduled for Tuesday. The date was later moved about three weeks later to Oct. 15. The new date still falls nearly a full month before the start of the candidate filing period.
That drew criticism from Boston.
“But the thing about it is, not all of the candidates will have filed by that time, and so I don’t know why an outside person would be hosting a forum, if they don’t even have all the candidates yet,” Boston said.
Boston said she thinks Burton has the right to host a forum, but is confused about why she wouldn't notify the local party. According to the release from the Bell County GOP, Sen. Troy Fraser, the SD-24 incumbent who is not running for re-election, supports hosting the forum in January.
Boston asked if Burton was hosting similar forums for other senate districts.
“Is she doing that all over the state for all of the candidates that are running for senate?” said Boston. “I’m just curious. Why would she come to Bell County and do that?”
In response, the Burton camp said that she had subsequently invited the district’s county Republican Party chairs to her gathering.
After announcing the change in the forum's date, Burton said in a press release that the change was made to accommodate more candidates who wished to attend. Six candidates were invited to the forum and notified of the date change, but only Jon Cobb, CJ Grisham and Brian Mayes have confirmed their attendance thus far. Reed Williams confirmed he cannot attend the event, which is set to take place at the convention center in Temple.
“Our goal is to give ample time to each candidate to be able to attend and ensure the grassroots in Senate District 24 have the best opportunity to compare each candidate on their merits. I’m just as excited as the grassroots are to hear from each candidate and see the response the voters in the district have to each candidate’s answers," Burton said in the release.