Gary M. Polland

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BLP sources Template:Infobox officeholder Gary Michael Polland (born September 10, 1950) is a Houston attorney who was from 1996 to 2002 the elected chairman of the Republican Party in Harris County, the largest county in population in the U.S. state of Texas.[1]

He is the publisher of the Texas Conservative Review, which he issues periodically on the Internet. From 2001 to 2006, the politically conservative Polland cohosted with the liberal commentator David A. Jones a weekly one-hour program Texas Politics - The Real Deal on Houston Media Source. In 2006, Jones and Polland created a new show at the Public Broadcasting Service outlet in Houston, The Connection, Red, White & Blue, a half-hour discussion and interview show.

Political career

Under Polland's tenure as the Harris County Republican chairman, the GOP continued to win majorities in the county even if Republican candidates lost in the Houston corporate limits in contested races. Polland earned national recognition for his party's success from such publications as the national conservative weekly Human Events, which called him the most effective party chairman in the nation. Other publications in which Polland has been cited are the American Spectator, The Houston Chronicle, and Inside Houston Magazine.[no citations needed here]

Polland has been politically close to such Republicans as Karl Rove, the former chief advisor to former U.S. President George W. Bush; U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, former Governor Rick Perry, former Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, and Governor Greg Abbott. He is a leading fundraiser for Republicans, having secured more than $3.5 million for candidates and causes between 1996 and 2006.[no citations needed here]

In 2004, Polland led the Texas Legislative Mission to Israel. He serves on the national boards of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Jewish Policy Center, and the board of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political action committee. He is also the vice chairman of the United Jewish Communities. Though he is himself Jewish, Polland has worked closely with the conservative Christian community within Harris County on political matters. Polland resigned in protest from the Anti-Defamation League after the group criticized conservative Christian activism.[no citations needed here]

Polland has been honored by the Republican National Hispanic Assembly and the National Federation of Pachyderm Clubs. He was designated "Reaganite of the Year" by the Reagan Alumni Association. He has written A Time for Choosing 35 Years Later, an update of Reagan's classic speech from October 27, 1964. Esther Slipakoff Polland (born c. 1950) tells the story of her husband's infatuation with Reagan. At the age of fourteen, Polland heard the speech that Reagan delivered on behalf of the Republican presidential nominee, U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona. She said that Polland often played Reagan tapes in the early 1970s, long before it was clear that Reagan might become president at some point in the future.[no citations needed here]

Polland is active in the interest group, Citizens Lowering Our Unfair Taxes (CLOUT), which seeks property tax relief in Texas. CLOUT finds that "appraisal creep" has hit Texas homeowners as hard as those in the Northeast, his native Illinois, and in Wisconsin.

Polland ran unopposed to a second term as Harris County chairman in 2000, but he stepped down in 2002 to contest the District 17 seat in the Texas State Senate in the party primary. The seat was vacated by veteran Republican J. E. "Buster" Brown of Lake Jackson. Polland lost badly to the physician Kyle Janek, who then prevailed in the November general election. Janek polled 8,495 votes (68 percent) to Polland's 3,967 ballots (32 percent). In a post-election letter to supporters, Polland wrote: "We ran a strong campaign based on our common conservative philosophy. We faced an incumbent [state representative] who was the darling of the Austin lobby. We were outspent at least two-to--one ..." Janek was reelected in 2004 and 2006.

Polland won the support of many well-known Texas and national Republicans in his state Senate bid including former presidential contender Steve Forbes, the publisher from New Jersey, former Texas Secretary of State George Strake, Jr., former Vice President Dan Quayle, Virginia Republican activist Morton Blackwell, and former presidential candidate and Gary Bauer, the director of the Campaign for Working Families.[no citations needed here]

In 2004, Polland contributed to African-American Democrat Al Green in Green's successful primary challenge to U.S. Representative Chris Bell, who then held [[Texas' 9th congressional district U.S. Representative. A lawyer and justice of the peace, Green won the nomination—and thereafter the general election—in the heavily black district, 13,920 (65 percent) to Bell's 7,125 ballots (33 percent). Another 2 percent of the vote went to a third candidate. In 2006, Bell ran as the Democrat gubernatorial nominee against Rick Perry.

In January 2007, Polland warned the Texas GOP that it could face serious decline in the 2008 elections if the conservative grassroots were not activated and brought into the mainstream of the party.[no citations needed here]

In 2014, Polland was a vigorous supporter of Jared Woodfill, his successor as the Harris County Republican chairman who failed in his bid for a fourth term in the Republican primary election. Woodfill was unseated by the Houston engineer-turned-lawyer Paul Simpson, who received a $90,000 donation from Harris County County Judge Ed Emmett. Woodfill and Emmett grew estranged in 2012. Emmett claims that Woodfill took personal credit for the establishment of "victory centers" when the sites were actually the work of Emmett and the state Republican party.[2] Simpson supporters claimed that Woodfill had grown lackluster in campaign fundraising and had accented "social issues" as chairman, including a lawsuit against the then Mayor Annise Parker regarding benefits for same-sex couples working for the city.[3]

Polland remains critical of Simpson's performance as Harris County Republican chairman, whom he accuses of running a 1990s-style operation well into the 21st century. The GOP fared poorly in the general election held on November 8, 2016. Not only did Hillary Rodham Clinton sweep Harris County, but the Republicans failed to win any county-wide offices in the state's most populous county. Polland asks:

What is Chairman Simpson's answer to our disaster in 2016? Three months later, essentially nothing but continue the same failed campaign plan (phone banks, regional headquarters, and, above all, as demonstrated in last week's executive committee meeting), no questions are to be entertained about the November 2016 debacle. If you study the GOP's plight, 2018 will become a critical election and a repeat of 2016 ... and Harris County could be lost for a decade with profound implications for red Texas.[4]

Unlike with the Simpson tenure, the Harris County GOP won all countywide offices under former chairman Polland. Simpson called the decline in GOP support in Harris County "fake news." According to Polland, Simpson "ignored every criticism and chose to chalk it up to 'two former disgruntled county chairs,' much like when a workplace predator distracts from the sexual harassment charges by calling the victim a 'disgruntled former employee.' It is unfortunate that Simpson is so adept and proactive when trying to save his own bacon, but did nothing to save the jobs of dozens of our Republican judges ..."[5]

In 2017, Polland, a sharp critic of Moderate Republican Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Joe Straus of San Antonio, called for the House to choose its Speaker through the party caucus, with each party putting forth a nominee for the post. Instead the Speaker is chosen from the whole membership of 150. Along with a contingent of his most loyal GOP representatives, Straus with solid Democratic backing continues to thwart conservative initiatives, such as the bathroom bill, which twice passed the Texas State Senate but was not voted upon by the House at Straus' direction.[6]

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