HOUSTON – Harris County GOP chairman Keith Nielsen officially took office August 3. However, as the party prepares for a contentious election season, there are renewed calls from some party regulars for his resignation.
Many urged Nielsen to step down even before he assumed office. In June, Nielsen posted a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. positioned next to a banana, an apparent nod to an old racist trope.
“There was no intent at all for any racial meaning to that,” Nielson told KPRC 2 at the time.
Leading Republicans such as Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Congressmen Kevin Brady, Michael McCaul and Dan Crenshaw, among others, have called for Nielsen’s resignation.
And at one point, Nielsen announced on Facebook that he would step down. But then changed his mind.
“I work for my voters,” Nielsen told KPRC 2 on June 6. ”They elected me to do a job and they have shown great support over the last two days and I intend to fill that commitment.”
Tuesday night at an organizational meeting of the Harris County Republican executive committee Precinct #615 Chairman John Karpiuk attempted to call a vote in an attempt to oust Nielsen. But, he was ruled to be out of order.
“He just decided to keep his position as soon as I got up there to speak,” Karpiuk said. “He had the sergeant at arms come and grab me when I said, ‘You know this is racist. This shouldn’t stand.’ He grabbed his gun and tried to drag me to the back of the room and said you need to leave.”
Karpiuk said he and 149 other Republican county precinct chairmen have signed an open letter calling for Nielsen’s resignation.
The assembled precinct chairpersons also passed a rule Tuesday night limiting Nielsen to spending no more than $25,000 in party funds without executive committee approval.
KPRC 2 asked Nielsen for comment by phone on Wednesday. He begged off saying he was in a meeting. He has not returned subsequent calls.