Commissioner, Precinct No. 4
Jim Clark (Incumbent), Bob Bagley, James Metts
TPP recommends Jim Clark for the following reasons:
The Precinct 4 Commissioner’s race is one of the three most critical local races in this election cycle that will determine whether the Commissioners Court continues to be controlled by an establishment group committed to self-enrichment, control and nepotism or is replaced by conservatives dedicated to ethics, transparency and cost efficiency. At present, there are two reliable conservative votes on Commissioners Court; Jim Clark’s and James Noack’s. With a five member court, to be the majority conservatives need to hold onto the two votes they have and gain at least one more reliable vote.
Bob Bagley - This is Mr. Bagley’s second attempt to be elected to this position. He is a strong Christian conservative who stand firm on his principles. He has been a committed activist for Christian and conservative causes for years and is clearly the most conservative candidate in this race. And he is supported by a dedicated group of passionate and hard-working volunteers. The reason the PAC did not recommend Mr. Bagley when he ran for this position in 2014 was that although he is an exceptional fine person, he did not have a credible path to victory. Does he have one in 2018?
Mr. Bagley was runner-up in the 2014 Primary but lost in the Runoff where he garnered 39% of the vote to Mr. Clark’s 61%. The results of the Runoff indicated that Mr. Bagley had difficulty expanding his support beyond the base that voted for him in the Primary, with Mr. Clark capturing 82% of the voters who did not vote for either of them in the Primary.
Since the 2014 Primary, Mr. Bagley was elected to the Montgomery County Hospital District Board and undoubtedly has better name recognition than he had in 2014. However, he is now running against an incumbent who has had 4 years to solidify his position. So to win in 2018, Mr. Bagley must have the resources to reach and persuade a large number of people who did not support him in 2014. And much as we admire Mr. Bagley and wish him well, we don’t see the presence of those resources. While Mr. Bagley may likely do better this time than 2014, he has too much ground to make up to have a credible path to victory with the limited resources he has.
James Metts – Mr. Metts is currently the Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace (JP), a position he has held since 2002. His office is riddled with nepotism, cost inefficiency and other significant conflicts of interest. His dedication to public service is consistently compromised by his outside interests and he reportedly openly brags to having three full-time jobs, one of which being his elected position.
Mr. Metts is a poster child of the establishment group that controls the county. He was persuaded by this group to give up his cushy arrangement as JP and use his apparent local popularity to knock Mr. Clark’s reliable conservative vote off Commissioners Court. If elected commissioner, he will reliably support the establishment and do all he can retard to effort to bring ethics, transparency and cost efficiency to Montgomery County’s government.
With establishment backing plus a presumed war chest from previous races as JP, Mr. Metts has accumulated significant financial resources for this race. Since he declined to participate in our vetting process, we have been unable to access his campaign. However, from the number of signs he has posted around the precinct and the fact he is a veteran of four prior successful elections as JP, we must assume he has a credible path to victory.
Jim Clark – Mr. Clark has taken two big legal hits during his first term as Commissioner and learned some bitter lessons that we believe have made him a better and stronger person. Before even taking office, he self-reported unknowingly violating the law when he offered his campaign manager a position in the precinct if he was elected. Later, he was unwittingly drawn in to the alleged Texas Open Meeting Act (TOMA) violation that resulted in the indictments of the County Judge, Commission Precinct 2 and himself.
Like most people, Mr. Clark likes to be liked. We were concerned when he ran in 2014 that he might be inclined to go-along-to-get-along. And, at the beginning of his term as Commissioner, this concern proved to have merit. However, after he was roped into the TOMA violation, Mr. Clark clearly had an epiphany, recognizing the values of establishment he had been supporting and deciding that thereafter he would be his own man; no more going-along-to-get-along. So he agreed to testify against the other three defendants and his voting pattern shifted 180 degrees, literally overnight, where now he arguably is the most conservative member of the court based on his votes. The establishment’s response to Jim’s radical change was to persuade Jim Metts to run against Clark.
Mr. Clark has significant financial support for his re-election and has put together a campaign organization that provides a credible path to victory.
Recommendation: Mr. Clark’s personal turnaround has been remarkable and the strength of character it demonstrates is commendable. Its impact on the court has been so dramatic that the establishment has persuaded possibly the only person in Precinct 4 who has a chance of beating him to give up his elected position to run against him. With Mr. Bagley not having the resources to successfully compete; Mr. Clark is unquestionably the most conservative viable candidate in this race. Lamentingly, a vote for Mr. Bagley in this race will be a vote for Mr. Metts and the establishment.