One of House Speaker Joe Straus’ top allies, State Affairs Chairman Byron Cook (R–Corsicana), is in hot water after activists in one county of his four-county district moved to officially reprimand him for his actions in the Texas Legislature.
Last week, Republican activists in Anderson County (which constitutes roughly one quarter of Cook’s district) voted to censure him for violating the Republican Party platform’s core principles during the regular and special sessions.
In a 15 page document Arlene McReynolds, a precinct chair and the acting chair of the Anderson County GOP, laid out a litany of actions taken by Cook that amount to a violation of seven of the party’s ten core principles.
McReynolds’ charges are numerous, but include the “unlawful arrest” and “forcible removal” of Amy Hedtke, an activist who was arrested for attempting to film Cook’s committee proceedings, refusing to allow votes on pro-life and anti-illegal immigration legislation, and other matters.
The resolution concludes thusly:
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Executive Committee of the Anderson County, Texas Republican Party, by a vote of 2/3rds of the members present, hereby CENSURE Texas State Representative Byron R. Cook, pursuant to Texas Republican Party General Rules for Conventions and Meetings, for committing three (3) or more acts in contravention of the Republican Party of Texas Core Principles as enumerated in this resolution.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we, the Executive Committee of Anderson County, Texas Republican Party call upon the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Texas to sustain this Resolution and to impose any and all sanctions, penalties, or punishments available upon Texas State Representative Byron R. Cook, pursuant to Texas Republican Party General Rules for Conventions and Meetings, Rule 44.
Though the Anderson County resolution was verified and validated by party officials, the measure did not make it to the floor for consideration at the State Republican Executive Committee meeting today.
In order for such a resolution to be officially adopted by the Texas GOP it must be passed by the SREC with a two-thirds vote.
Should that occur, Rule 44 empowers the SREC to “declare that no Rule or Bylaw enacted by any division of the Party at any level that demands the Party be neutral in intraparty contests shall be observed with respect to the named candidate, and no financial or other support shall be provided to their campaign by the Party except that which is required by law.”
Earlier today, precinct chairs on the other side of House District 8 in Hill County attempted an identical censure resolution, but opted to deliver the document to Cook and give him thirty days to respond instead.
Cook has yet to declare if he will run for re-election.
Should he decide to do so, Cook would face a tough campaign against Corsicana businessman Thomas McNutt, who has already announced a rematch campaign against him. Cook narrowly prevailed over McNutt in the 2016 primary, winning by less than one percent with rampant vote irregularities across the district.