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TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — On this week’s episode of “Big Country Politics,” Diana Hartman, president of the Abilene Republican Women, discussed grassroots initiatives in Texas politics and addressed the divide within the Republican Party.

Abilene Republican Women was founded about two years ago as part of the largest group of politically active women in Texas, the Texas Federation of Republican Women. Hartman explained that the branch was formed because she saw that the Republican Party in Taylor County was not very active at the time.

“We started. A friend of mine, Darla Keeling, and I were very angry one day after watching Fox News. We thought we need to do something. That prompted us to look into getting active in our local Republican Party. We were at several Republican parties in Taylor County trying to do something to activate our precincts. We looked at our precincts and found that none of our precincts had a precinct chair. We submitted our application to be precinct chair,” Hartman recounted. “We just went there and tried to get active in the party in Taylor County. We found that they weren’t doing much, they were only meeting maybe once a month, and at that point I think they weren’t meeting once a month, they were meeting every quarter. So that’s what they have to do by GOP law. That’s their rule. We just started getting active and doing things and found that things weren’t really moving forward. So we formed Abilene Republican Women.

Just a few weeks ago, Taylor County Republican Party Chairman Chris Carnahan spoke on Big Country Politics about his re-election and the reunification of the local Republican Party after his resignation earlier this year before the primary election. Hartman believes his comments did not unify the party.

“The only job of the Taylor County chairman is to hold a meeting before our state convention to find representatives to represent our county and go to the state convention as delegates. He had no intention of doing that. In February, he went on another show and said he was resigning and told everyone he was resigning from his position as Taylor County chairman. The catalyst for that was that some members of the CEC, the county executive committee, got together and wanted to hold a meeting to prepare for our county convention that we have to hold before we go to the state convention. And he had no intention of doing that,” Hartman said.

She said she believed he resigned for personal reasons during the race for the 71st seat in the House of Representatives between Stan Lambert and Liz Case.

“I don’t think he wanted to support her (Liz Case). And that’s why he resigned, because by and large you’re supposed to support all the candidates that are running, not just pick the candidates. At this point in the primaries, we don’t decide on a candidate until the voters decide. Then we’re all in, whoever the voters chose. I think he wanted to support Mr. Lambert, who was running because Liz was running against him. So he resigned because they wanted to call an executive committee meeting, since he had no sort of state convention or anything like that planned. So we don’t think he had any intention of doing that. And of course, it didn’t happen,” Hartman shared.

She said his resignation had split the party exactly into two camps, with half going over to one side and half going over to the other.

“We had to stumble around and try to pull ourselves back together to have our county convention and get ready for the state election. There were a lot of good people who helped us, and Mr. Pickens was one of them. That helped us, as did Rich Sanders, Dr. Rich Sanders and a few others who brought the party back together. We had our county convention. We had more delegates this year than I ever remembered. I think we had something like 32 delegates from this county, which doesn’t seem like a lot. But considering that in years past we’ve only had six, that’s a lot of people,” Hartman said.

Divisions within the Republican Party have long been a problem. Hartman mentioned that she attributes some of it to a lack of activity and teamwork, although she is unsure of the exact origin.

“It’s the old saying: teamwork makes dreams come true. A lot of times when people would put forward ideas about how to get voters to the polls or go door to door or just do anything new and different, there was a lot of resistance from Chris. He didn’t agree with that. He wanted it to be run only by the little feudal lords, of which there were about four at the time. People weren’t encouraged to do anything other than their agenda. I know that during the wrangling over reorganization, they had to come up with a new charter. They’ve actually gotten it to the point where now there are committees, different committees that all come together and make the decisions for the party. It’s actually utilizing the talents of the people that are coming in, and we’ve had a membership increase. I know we have almost 50 members, all Republican women,” Hartman explained.

She recommended making amends through apologies to get the party back on the same track.

“I always think that apologies from all sides would work, you know, just coming out and apologizing for that. Whether it was selfishness or whatever, he could still come back and just say, ‘I’m sorry, I did that. Let’s try to work together.’ I think that would go a long way with a lot of people that are in the party now, because it’s not just women, it’s men too. Because we were in a big, a big crisis for many, many weeks and had to decide how we were going to get back to sending those delegates, and unfortunately it kind of broke us when he got out of the way and we just got everything organized and ready to go,” Hartman said.

Hartman explained that divisions are not uncommon, but that one can still stand on someone’s side without agreeing.

“The grassroots movement is a diversity of people coming together with a common goal. So sometimes there are divisions in our party, but you know, this is not the first time that’s happened. And Ronald Reagan put it best when he said, if a man is on your side 80% of the time and you disagree 20% of the time, he’s still on your side, you know, and that’s what we have to look at now,” Hartman shared.

She mentioned that plans to push the seven “golden cities” to maintain the state’s red status were moving forward.

“We’ve been planning this for over a year now to have the seven golden cities, and I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but when Cortez first came to Texas, he was looking for the seven golden cities that the Aztecs had somewhere. And of course, he did it for another reason. We look at it as a way to keep and maintain Texas red. In the last election and 2020, that’s actually what happened. West Texas has kept the state a red state because the metropolitan areas, many of them, were already becoming predominantly blue or perceived as blue. We’re trying to restart that effort. There are seven cities, which are Abilene, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Lubbock, Wichita Falls and San Angelo, and the seven cities; if we can get our small cities around us to join us, then we’ll be able to hold that line. Because if we get 70% of our vote, we can do the metropolitan studies,” Hartman explained.

The Abilene Republican Women are hosting an event on July 12 and 13. The $75 fee includes breakfast, lunch and dinner on Friday and breakfast and lunch on Saturday. The event will feature Troy Jackson, Abraham Enriquez and Ben Quine.

“Troy Jackson is coming from the Site Party as one of their trainers. He’s done this before in the Dallas area. Abraham Enriquez, I heard from somebody today that Trump has him on his radar to work in their six districts in the United States that Trump needs help with right now that are predominantly Hispanic. He’s going to get Abraham to come because he has some things to help Hispanic voters realize that maybe they’re Republican after all. It’s really exciting what he’s bringing to the table,” Hartman said. “We have Ben Quine from Christians Engaged, and he’s working with Bunni Pounds, who just wrote a book, Jesus and Politics. It’s basically about how we always think you can’t separate church and state. But that’s not what we think God intended. He was the creator of politics and all of that. He’s going to tell us how to appeal to Christian voters because only one in four Christians vote. This is shocking because I think everyone from my church voted, but that’s not always true. We also have Steve Hemphill who is our keynote speaker on Friday night after a nice barbecue dinner. He wrote the book ‘What Are the Stakes’ and he has also been searching for the true heaven. He will also be teaching us about the spiritual warfare aspect.”

To learn more about the Abilene Republican Women and their events, visit their website.