Texas GOP chief plans to stop being so critical
Jay Root, The Associated Press
November 23, 2009
AUSTIN – Republican activist Cathie Adams has almost made a career out of stirring things up. She has criticized senior members of her own party, bucked business leaders by opposing their lawsuit reform efforts, called global warming a "hoax" and used the specter of Adolf Hitler to warn of perceived Obama administration excesses.
Then she got elected chairman of the Texas Republican Party.
Adams, who was chosen to lead the party in a special election last month, won't be blasting fellow Republicans anytime soon. She'll be trying to get more of them elected, even if they don't hold her conservative views on abortion, stem cell research or other social issues she has been involved with over the years.
While she hasn't changed her beliefs, Adams, 59, says the new gig requires her to stay neutral in contested races while projecting party unity.
"I am going to be supportive of our Republican team and I'm excited about every one of our candidates," Adams said. "As party chairman I'm definitely in a different role."
Adams, who led the Texas Eagle Forum for 16 years, has been harsh on fellow Republicans who flirt with political moderation. She helped lead a silent protest of a speech by openly gay U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe at the 2000 GOP convention, a slap at then-GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush's move at inclusiveness.
More recently, she complained that 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain's policies were "awful." And as state Rep. Joe Straus lined up the votes to become Texas House speaker in January, she called the San Antonio Republican a "radical" who was out of step with the conservative GOP.
She also has been a consistent thorn in the side of the state's senior U.S. senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison, who has riled Adams by supporting abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research.
As recently as a few weeks ago, Adams warned that Hutchison would "not be there" for social conservatives if she's elected governor. It wasn't particularly surprising, since Adams already had endorsed Gov. Rick Perry, calling him the best pick for true conservatives in the GOP primary race.
Now, she has vowed unquestioned loyalty to both the speaker and the senator. She said Straus and Hutchison "know that I'm going to be their best friend."
Some critics are skeptical that Adams will be able to contain her bomb-throwing nature.
"I think we're going to see the same Cathie Adams we've seen for two decades," said Dan Quinn, spokesman for the liberal Texas Freedom Network. "That's somebody who uses extreme and divisive rhetoric to promote a political agenda, and if you get in her way, whether you're Republican or not, she'll go after you."
Adams, a native of Peoria, Ill., who lives in Dallas, said she's keeping her focus on party building and winning elections, not internal squabbles. Last week, the state GOP snagged Rep. Chuck Hopson of Jacksonville, whose defection could help the Republicans maintain their narrow House majority.
In the meantime, Adams isn't shying away from attacks on Democrats.
She said she still believes Democrats are using flawed science to promote a global warming panic and she didn't back down from her complaint that President Barack Obama's speech to schoolchildren in September represented a frightening politicization of the public education system, sounding "eerily like Hitler's youth movement."