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Conservatives claim GOP intimidating them

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The Ellis County Press

RED OAK – Activists with local conservative and Tea Party organizations running for office allege the Republican Party chairman of attempting to intimidate and threaten them with tenuous restrictions.

Candidates for several of Ellis Countys 45 voting precinct chair positions have said GOP chair Nelson Baird instructed them to attach an affirmation to the Republican Party to the back of their candidate application when filing for office.

"I have not asked nor do I intend to ask anyone to swear them in to run for office," Baird told party leaders in an e-mail.

"I was asked how a person officially affiliates themselves with the party if they did not vote in the last primary."

Precinct 125 chairman David Hunnicutt, who also serves as the executive committee’s sergeant at arms, told Baird and other party chairmen several "rumored" tactics would be against state law and party bylaws.

"These [campaign] deals would be against the GOP guidelines, and would also be covered within the Texas State Election Code, not to mention blatantly inappropriate and unethical," Hunnicutt said.

Precinct chairmen which comprise individuals from both major parties run elections in their respective geographic voting locations.

There are 45 such precincts in Ellis County, with Dallas County containing more than 800.

Several of the Tea Party groups in Ellis County which now go under the umbrella name of Common Sense Conservative Coalition of Ellis County have their ranks running for precinct chair against sitting incumbents, including Baird.

Baird, first elected last year, has been accused of helping pave the way for the party’s establishment-backed Web site developer to run for county chair, thereby allowing Baird to not seek a second two-year term against Tea Party activist Dan Davis.

"The normal place [to affirm allegiance to a party occurs] is at a precinct convention," Baird said.

"It turns out that provided by Texas [Election Code Section] 162.007 and [Section] 162.008."

Rodney Pat Ramsey, a Waxahachie defense lawyer running against incumbent Ron Brown for county commissioner, said there are only two points of eligibility for candidates: candidates living in their precinct and being a qualified voter of the county.

"There is no such thing as a loyalty [oath] to the Republican Party," Ramsey said, who has advised several of the Tea Party activists on potentially filing a case should they feel disenfranchised by the party.

"I’m saying this in the nicest way; Nelson Baird has got to be one of the most uniformed [people] I have ever met."

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