The Big Conversation
A day after the Travis County Republican Party elected a man known for controversial and frequently profane postings on social media as its new chairman, county precinct chairmen contacted by the Tribune differed on whether Robert Morrow should continue in the job.
Morrow won the job with a solid majority of 54 percent, but his election caused the party’s vice chairman, GOP political consultant Matt Mackowiak, to vow to “explore every single option that exists” to remove Morrow or blunt his influence as chair.
One precinct chairman, Jim Suydam, told the Tribune’s Jordan Rudner on Wednesday, “Mr. Morrow's language in the media, his statements on social media, his oddly proud misogyny — none of this is acceptable in a polite society.”
Those statements, Suydam added, “render Morrow unfit” to represent the GOP.
Precinct chairman Edwin Mallory was one of several who told the Tribune that they disagreed with those calling for Morrow’s ouster.
“Just because Robert Morrow is whacked out a little bit, you have to look at the other side of the book — those poor bastards are so afraid of losing power, they will say or do anything to hold onto it,” Mallory said. “They know Robert Morrow won’t play ball with them.”
Setting the politics of the controversy aside, election law expert Buck Wood on Wednesday told the Tribune that Morrow’s antagonists have few options on removing the newly elected chairman.
“They elected him county chair, and for two years, he’s going to be county chair,” Wood said. “They can try to talk him into stepping down — but other than that, they just screwed up.”
Trib Must Reads
Analysis: A Good Election Night to Be a Texas Incumbent, by Ross Ramsey — For all of the talk and bluster about replacing the people in government with new folks, Texas voters on Tuesday were remarkably gentle with incumbents, giving nearly all of them a ticket to the general election in November.
Texans Remember Late Fracking Magnate's Impact, by Jim Malewitz — Those who followed the turbulent career of Aubrey McClendon called him one of the most influential Texas figures in a generation — warts and all.
SH 130 Toll Road Operator Files for Bankruptcy, by Jamie Lovegrove — A private company that operates part of the Texas toll road with the highest speed limit in the country filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, fewer than three years after the section of the road it oversees first opened.
Laredo Mayor Doesn't Rule Out Voting for Trump, by Julián Aguilar — The mayor of a Texas border city whose population is 96 percent Hispanic and home to the country’s largest inland port said on Wednesday that even though he is opposed to a wall on the border, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of voting for Donald Trump.
Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland Formally Fired, by Johnathan Silver — Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw has issued a termination letter for Brian Encinia, the trooper who arrested Sandra Bland.
Texas Regulators Poised To Vote On Hunt's Oncor Plan, by Jim Malewitz — Texas regulators are expected to reveal Thursday whether they will sign off on the Ray L. Hunt family’s $18 billion plan to purchase and reshape Oncor, the state’s largest electric utility — a decision that will resonate more than statewide.
A&M President: Student Involved in Racist Incident No Longer On Campus, by Matthew Watkins — One of the Texas A&M students involved in the harassment of a group of minority high school students touring campus last month "is no longer associated with" the university, President Michael Young announced Wednesday.
Cruz, Clinton Grab Most Votes in Almost Every Texas County, by Jolie McCullough — More voters chose Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Hillary Clinton than their leading primary challengers in almost every county in Texas, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State.
The Day Ahead
• The Tribune and ProPublica are hosting an event that focuses on what needs to be done to protect Houston against a massive hurricane. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at San Jacinto College Maritime Technology and Training Center in La Porte and will be live streamed for those unable to attend in person.
Burnam Missed the Railroad Runoff. What Happened?, Texas Observer
City's free ride to recycling success about to end, Houston Chronicle
Texas board rejects rule restricting 'distance' counseling, Austin American-Statesman
Turner wants community buy-in to stop violence, Houston Chronicle
Justices hear landmark abortion case, San Antonio Express-News
UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven defends Houston expansion to Abbott, Patrick, The Dallas Morning News
More confusion possible as '1-sticker" system enters 2nd year, Houston Chronicle
It’s Joe Straus’ House — at least until 2019 — after Tuesday’s Texas GOP primaries, The Dallas Morning News
DPS director upholds decision to fire trooper who arrested Sandra Bland, The Dallas Morning News
Quote to Note
“Tell them they can go f--- themselves.”
— Robert Morrow, Travis County Republican Party chairman-elect, responding to a call to have him removed from office
News From Home
Going to South by Southwest? Be sure to catch the conversation about civic engagement in a digital age between the Tribune's Evan Smith and President Barack Obama on March 11.
Trib Events for the Calendar
• A Conversation with Sid Miller, Texas Agriculture Commissioner on March 10 at the Austin Club
• How High is the Water? A Data Visualization Party on March 13 at Umbel Corp
• A Conversation with Reps. Craig Goldman, Stephanie Klick and Ramon Romero Jr. on March 29 at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth
• A Conversation with Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Poncho Nevárez on April 13 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine
• A Symposium on the Texas Economy on April 29 at the University of Houston