Dallas County Republican precinct chairs will meet tonight to choose a successor to Jonathan Neerman, who’s arguably been the most LGBT-inclusive leader in the local GOP’s history. The two candidates to replace Neerman are civil attorney and former county judge candidate Wade Emmert, and the tea party-affiliated former president of the Park Cities Republican Women, Debbie Georgatos.
As chair, Neerman publicly advocated for including groups like Log Cabin Republicans in the local party, in an effort to grow the base and try to stem the Democratic tide of the last five years. Naturally, this led to criticism of Neerman by social conservatives, and now the race to replace him has become the subject of some major gay Facebook drama. LCR President Rob Schlein is accusing Georgatos’ supporters gay-baiting in the campaign against Emmert, whom Schlein is now publicly endorsing.
It all started when Dallas County Commissioner Maurine Dickey canceled her scheduled appearance at next week’s monthly meeting of the gay GOP group. To replace Dickey, Schlein invited both Emmert and Georgatos to speak at the meeting — win or lose tonight’s election. “Both spoke about broadening the party so another ‘test’ was to see which candidate would have the courage to commit to openly speak to Log Cabin before a vote. I wanted to see whose actions would meet their words,” Schlein writes.
Schlein said he was impressed that Emmert immediately accepted the invitation. As for Georgatos, she replied to Schlein as follows: “I am sorry–that date is not possible on my caliber [sic]–and my life is crazy–let’s talk after the 17th (after i get a good night’s sleep). I am telling all the different clubs asking that i need to sort out my calendar after the 17th.”
Schlein says he posted Georgatos’ response verbatim on the LCR Facebook page, followed by his comment that it seemed to contradict her pledge to be a full-time party chair. Schlein says this one comment “exploded into many negative remarks from Georgatos’ supporters.”
Then, one of Georgatos’ supporters posted something on Emmert’s Facebook wall congratulating him on the Log Cabin appearance, which Schlein says was an attempt to draw attention to the fact that he was speaking to a gay group. Schlein says he also received a copy of an email sent by a Georgatos’ supporter calling attention to Emmert’s appearance at Log Cabin.
This prompted Schlein to contact Georgatos about the apparent gay-baiting. “Instead of disavowing what was clearly an attack on Wade using Log Cabin as the bait, she excused herself because she was unaware of the email,” Schlein says. “She said she was the object of false accusations of being homophobic. In my eyes, she cast herself as a victim. What I was seeking, instead, was an acknowledgement that the email was uncalled for, and a promise of reprimand to the author.”
Schlein says Georgato’s response was “not satisfactory to me” and that the “zeal” with which her supporters attack Emmert on Facebook is “very troublesome.” In addition, Schlein says Georgatos’ work on Stephen Broden’s congressional campaign — which she’s been touting — merely depleted resources from other candidates and “woke up the sleeping giant called Eddie Bernice Johnson,” which in turn hurt the GOP in local judicial races. “It’s for all of these reasons that I proudly support and endorse Wade Emmert for Dallas County Chairman,” Schlein writes.