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Disputed Precinct Chairs Seek Financial Damages From Montgomery GOP Chairman

18 Opponents of County Chairman Seek $5,000 Each for Alleged “Unlawful Restraint”

A long-running dispute between the duly elected Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party and a group that opposes his leadership is headed back to the courtroom, with 18 individuals who purport to serve as precinct chairs seeking $5,000 in damages each. 

Early last year, a group calling itself the “MoCo Precinct Chair Group” filed suit against Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Bryan Christ. The lawsuit alleged that Christ had failed to recognize the purported appointment of certain individuals as precinct chairs at meetings that the MoCo Precinct Chair Group claimed were legally valid. The lawsuit sought to compel Christ to recognize these individuals as precinct chairs and report their names to the Secretary of State’s website.

In response to that lawsuit, Christ claimed that the purported precinct chair appointments were invalid and did not occur at meetings that were held legitimately under the bylaws of the Montgomery County Republican Party. 

The Texas Supreme Court sided with Christ and denied the petition filed with the Court. The MoCo Precinct Chair Group subsequently filed a motion for rehearing, which the Texas Supreme Court also denied. 

Concerned that individuals who were not valid precinct chairs would participate in meetings required under the Texas Election Code regarding Senatorial District Conventions, Christ and two others- representing the three State Senate districts that include parts of Montgomery County- sought a Temporary Restraining Order against 18 of the disputed precinct chairs from participating in these statutory meetings. 

State District Judge Randy McDonald of Chambers County was assigned to hear the case. At a hearing on December 5, McDonald granted the Temporary Restraining Order sought by Christ and his allies. Having obtained the relief they sought, Christ and his allies sought to dismiss the lawsuit against the 18 disputed precinct chairs. 

Despite the previous failure of the MoCo Precinct Chair Group at the Texas Supreme Court, the 18 disputed precinct chairs that were subject to the Temporary Restraining Order filed a countersuit against Christ and his co-plaintiffs. 

In the countersuit, the 18 disputed precinct chairs argued, as was argued unsuccessfully at the Texas Supreme Court, that their appointment as precinct chairs was indeed valid, that the Temporary Restraining Order obtained by Christ was improper, and that each of the 18 disputed precinct chairs involved in the proceeding should be awarded $5,000 each for “unlawful restraint.”

A hearing on the counterclaims is set for February 28 before Judge McDonald.

Christ is running for re-election as Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, where he faces a challenge from Gwen Withrow. A member of the State Republican Executive Committee, Withrow was a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit filed against Christ by the MoCo Precinct Chair Group and was also one of the 18 disputed precinct chairs seeking financial damages against Christ in the pending District Court proceeding. 

Christ, who is endorsed by approximately two dozen local Republican elected officials in Montgomery County in addition to other Party and Community leaders, is running on a platform to grow the Republican Party and protect the rights of primary voters.

On his campaign website, Christ accuses his opponents of wanting to deny candidates access to the Republican Party primary ballot

Withrow, on her social media pages, does not list any endorsements from Republican elected officials in Montgomery County. However, she does list endorsements from statewide figures such as Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi and Attorney General Ken Paxton. 

Last year, The Texas Voice reported on comments by Rinaldi on a podcast where he raised the possibility of the Republican Party nominating candidates at conventions instead of primary elections. 

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