Harris County Republicans were shocked Thursday night when an event that bills itself as rallying the party around conservative reforms instead featured an interview panel headlined by one of the most liberal members of the Texas media.

The Lincoln-Reagan dinner, an event put on by local Republican parties, is an annual opportunity for conservatives to meet, enjoy dinner together, and listen to a program of Republican politicians and conservative figures energize them for the election ahead, all while raising money for the county party.

Republicans in Harris County, however, were subjected to something entirely different Thursday night at their annual dinner: liberal columnist Erica Grieder.

Grieder, a writer for the Houston Chronicle, previously worked as a senior editor at Texas Monthly. She left the position after the November 2016 election, tweeting after her abrupt departure that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott was a “f***ing disgrace” and a “pathetic weasel.”

Since then, Grieder has become increasingly more open about her liberal views. In the last few weeks alone, she has launched tweets attacking President Donald Trump, sympathizing with anti-Second Amendment activists, and bizarrely suggesting that national anthem-kneeler Colin Kaepernick should be picked up by the Houston Texans as a “great PR move.”

Grieder has admitted voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and even voted in the Democrat primary earlier this month in order to support Andrew White’s gubernatorial bid.

During the dinner, Grieder moderated a panel with U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R–Houston), State Rep. Jim Murphy (R–Houston), District Clerk Chris Daniel, and Harris County GOP Chairman Paul Simpson on Hurricane Harvey relief.

In a Twitter response, Simpson appeared to admit that he knew Grieder was a Democrat prior to inviting her to speak, and defended her role by arguing that she was not a host, but a moderator.

“Our Harris County Republicans parry with Democrats daily, don’t hide in safe spaces, and can readily handle a Houston Chronicle journalist’s questions,” said Simpson.

As of publishing, Simpson did not respond to inquiries concerning whether he was aware of Grieder’s profane comments made in reference to Abbott.

Grieder’s inclusion came as a surprise for many conservatives in attendance, who didn’t expect to be subjected to Democrats at a Republican party event.

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–Houston) told Texas Scorecard he was “astonished” by Grieder’s inclusion due to her “constant hammering of Attorney General Ken Paxton, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Gov. Greg Abbott,” adding that “by her own definition, or anyone’s definition, she’s as liberal as they come.”

Deer Park Republican State Rep. Briscoe Cain, also in attendance, tweeted, “the moderator isn’t pro-life, pro 2A, or pro 1A? #shocker.”

Cain indicated that he had not heard of Grieder until recently.

“I have since looked through her Twitter feed. She is just another conservative-hating spin doctor that calls herself a journalist,” said Cain.

Instead of the liberal-led panel, Bettencourt suggested that the dinner would have been better served by the inclusion of a panel of Hispanic Republican office holders and other conservative candidates ahead of the November election.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens