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Texas GOP vice chair challenges Matt Rinaldi for party leadership

Former State Rep. Matt Rinaldi spoke to Tarrant county Tea Party supporters in Grapevine for an event called Spread the Red on Oct. 17, 2018.
Former state Rep. Matt Rinaldi spoke to Tarrant County tea party supporters in Grapevine for an event called Spread the Red on Oct. 17, 2018. Credit: Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune

The vice chair of the Texas Republican Party, Dana Myers, announced Friday she was challenging the chair, Matt Rinaldi.

"Recently, our party has strayed from its fundamental mission – growing the Republican Party by reaching new voters and advancing a platform that is grounded in conservative principles," Myers said in a statement. "Instead, we find ourselves in a state of disarray, fractured by internal divisions and marred by turmoil. This situation is untenable, and it’s time for a positive change."

The chair will be elected by delegates at the Texas GOP convention this spring. Rinaldi, who has not formally announced his reelection campaign yet, quickly responded to the news of Myers’ campaign.

“The Texas GOP under my leadership is coming off its strongest election performance since 2014 and has done more to challenge the Nikki Haley wing of the party than ever before,” Rinaldi said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “There are some people that want to party to revert back to being nothing more than a cheerleading society for the elected class. The grassroots won’t let that happen.”

Myers is a medical business consultant in Houston who has long been involved in the GOP. She previously served as vice chair of the party in Harris County, home to Houston and the state’s most populous county.

Last year, Myers joined over one-third of the party’s executive committee members in a letter scrutinizing its ties to Defend Texas Liberty PAC, a hard-right group whose then-leader, Jonathan Stickland, hosted notorious white supremacist Nick Fuentes at his office building near Fort Worth. The Texas Tribune spotted Rinaldi entering the building while Fuentes was inside, but he denied having any knowledge of Fuentes being there.

Rinaldi condemned Fuentes, but questions lingered, and the letter called on the state party to do more to distance the party from the PAC. Defend Texas Liberty is one of the top funders of the Texas GOP in recent years.

“Jonathan Stickland has forfeited his right to any leadership role in conservative politics and accordingly[,] complete disassociation from DTL, including its benefactors and the RPT[,] is the only reconcilable outcome which is now being formally called upon to accomplish instanter,” the letter said.

Asked whether he was running for reelection, Rinaldi told The Texas Tribune: “I’m currently focused on the GOP primary. But I am making campaign appearances and will make a formal announcement after the primary.”

The Texas Tribune later reported that around the time Rinaldi was being called to cut ties with Defend Texas Liberty, he was also working as an attorney for Farris Wilks, one of the key funders of the PAC.

Delegates to the Texas GOP convention will elect the state party chair when they gather in late May in San Antonio.

While the chair and vice chair are both elected at the same time, they do not run as a ticket and are not always political allies.

Rinaldi, a former state representative from North Texas, was first elected as Texas GOP chair in 2021, when the State Republican Executive Committee picked him to fill a vacancy. Delegates to the 2022 convention reelected him without opposition. Myers won a three-way race for vice chair at the same convention.