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Personal, political drama haunt Collin County's Abraham George in battle for state GOP chair

A man with a goatee in a blue button down shirt smiles in front of a stained glass window that says "Republican".
Sergio Martínez-Beltrán
The Texas Newsroom
Abraham George, former chairman of the Collin County Republican Party, poses in front of a sign at the Collin County Republican Party Headquarters on Aug. 9, 2023.

Collin County Republican Abraham George’s bid for chair of the Republican Party of Texas has gained early support — but so far, his campaign has been overshadowed by family issues and GOP infighting centering his top endorsers.

Top Texas Republicans like current chair Matt Rinaldi and Attorney General Ken Paxton have both thrown their support behind George, but with that comes the baggage of other political rivalries that are emblematic of an increasingly stark divide between more moderate and more conservative Republicans in the state.

George himself has aligned with the latter.

“I know a lot of the people who are in the state party,” he said in an interview with KERA, “and after talking to a lot of them, they said, ‘well, you can do this. Let's get you elected.’ So, it's more of a coordinated push from the conservative side to get someone elected to follow and take the party to the next level from Matt Rinaldi's years.”

George identified some of his goals as making sure no Democrats chair committees in the state House of Representatives — something the current House speaker, Dade Phelan, has been criticized for in recent years.

George has also prioritized eliminating property taxes and said he’s for “universal school choice.” But he’s also drawn criticism within the party for not being a more devout supporter of school vouchers, which Gov. Greg Abbott championed as one of his priorities in last year’s legislative session.

And some of his political enemies have used recent news of an armed domestic incident involving his wife and two kids as an indictment on George’s personal character.

The state of Texas and most of its counties elect chairs who act as the voice of a party, said Cal Jillson, who teaches political science at Southern Methodist University. The chairs vet, select and fund candidates and work to put them on the road to winning elections — so the position has vast influence. State Republican Executive Committee delegates will elect the next statewide chair at the party's convention in May.

“I think that in the current Republican Party, you bet on the activist wing and their candidates, not the traditional wing and their candidate,” Jillson said. “So, I assume that Mr. George will be the frontrunner unless more information comes out that puts him in a worse light.”

A man stands in a group of people looking up with a smile.
Juan Figueroa
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton looks up at the gallery during the first day of his impeachment trial in the Texas Senate chambers at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023. The Texas House, including a majority of its GOP members, voted to impeach Paxton for alleged corruption in May.

Paxton once again endorsed George on social media after supporting George in his race against Texas Rep. Candy Noble for House District 89, which George lost with 47% of votes. The attorney general applauded George’s fundraising work in Collin County and as a member of the State Republican Executive Committee.

Other state leaders aren’t so enthusiastic about George. House Speaker Dade Phelan was at an event in Dallas Tuesday, where he appeared alongside Gov. Greg Abbott for the first time since the primary race for House District 21. That race is headed for a runoff election in May.

Phelan presided over the impeachment of Paxton in the House last year, and in return Paxton endorsed David Covey, who is now Phelan’s runoff opponent, for the House seat.

Phelan told KERA he doesn’t know George personally, but he hinted why he wouldn’t be endorsing George.

“Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are,” Phelan said. “So, I’ve seen who’s endorsed him, and I think he would be just an extension of the current inept leadership at the RPT.”

The state GOP censured Phelan in February, in part because of his role in the impeachment process. Rinaldi's time as chair has been notable for what some party members saw as a shift further right that divided Republicans like Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — specifically over Rinaldi’s ties to the Defend Texas Liberty PAC and former leader Jonathan Stickland.

The Texas Tribune reported Stickland hosted white supremacist Nick Fuentes at his office building in Fort Worth last year. Rinaldi was also seen entering the building, but he denied knowing Fuentes was there and later condemned Fuentes. Phelan criticized Rinaldi, who called for Phelan to resign.

The controversy surrounding George’s race is emblematic of the growing divide between the more moderate and more conservative wings of the Texas GOP, Jillson said.

“The ultra-conservative wing of the Republican party in Texas sees Phelan as a stumbling block,” Jillson said. “They'd like to beat him and put somebody in that position, select a new speaker, and Abraham George would be part of that wing that is trying to move the Republican Party of Texas further and further to the right.”

George launched his campaign to become chair of the Republican Party of Texas March 15, the same day Rinaldi announced he won’t seek re-election. Rinaldi said in another post he was proud to endorse George.

House Speaker Dade Phelan talks about the Texas Semiconductor Innovation Consortium during a press conference Tuesday, March 19, 2024, at University of Texas in Dallas.
Yfat Yossifor
House Speaker Dade Phelan, center, joined Gov. Greg Abbott, right, at a press conference Tuesday, March 19, 2024, at University of Texas in Dallas.

“He has a proven track record of fundraising and leadership as Collin County GOP Chair and will keep our state party one that wins elections, serves grassroots Republicans first, and leads on policy,” he wrote.

George’s highest profile opponent is Dana Myers, a Houston medical business consultant and current vice chair of the state’s Republican Party who has also been critical of Rinaldi. In addition to her time with the state GOP, Myers has also served in a variety of leadership roles in Harris County’s Republican scene.

Myers has not responded to a KERA News request for comment on her new opponent, but George said Myers is a good friend of his, and he’ll continue to share his own vision for the party — it’s up to the executive committee delegates to pick the best fit for chair.

“This is not like me going against a Democrat,” George said. “She's a good Republican. We're going to work together.”

Some conservatives have also criticized George for his stance on education savings accounts, a voucher-like program that gives parents public funds to use to send their children to private school, homeschool and other alternatives to public school.

Ahead of the primaries, the Family Empowerment Coalition PAC — a pro-school vouchers group — posted a 45-second video clip on X in which George said he supports parents having the power to choose their children’s schools, but he also wants issues in public schools addressed without defunding them. For that, the page accused George of using “anti-school choice Democrat” talking points and said he “can’t be trusted.”

George said his words are being taken out of context. He reiterated he’s in favor of school vouchers and the freedom it would allow parents. He cited maintenance and operations taxes — something conservatives have worked to eliminate in hopes of cutting property taxes — critical race theory and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives as issues with the public education system that he said need to be “cleared and fixed.”

But demonizing school districts isn’t the answer either, George said. Rather, school vouchers would make the school system a free market and encourage schools to compete to win over parents, a solution he said always “works itself out.”

“Just because I want to clean up and rebuild public education, that doesn't mean I'm not for school choice,” George said. “Just because I am for school choice doesn't mean I'm against public education.”

More evidence that the heat is turning up in the party chair race: a police report that circulated on social media and was confirmed by the Texas Tribune Monday shows police came to George’s home in March 2023 over a domestic incident between George and his wife Jeena.

One of George’s children made the call, according to the report. George allegedly accused his wife of having an affair with someone from their church and was attempting to leave the house while his family tried to keep him home.

The report said police found George as he was attempting to leave the house with a loaded handgun in his car door. George's wife implied he might go to Denton with the gun to confront the man he accused of being her lover, according to the document.

But she also told officers he did not physically or verbally threaten anyone, according to the report. George was not arrested or charged with a crime.

State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano — who voted for Paxton’s impeachment in the House — condemned George for the details in the report.

“I’ve read enough,” Leach said in a post on X Monday. “This police report is so incredibly disturbing on any number of levels and Abraham George should immediately terminate his candidacy for Chairman of the Texas GOP.”

Leach also called for body camera footage and audio from the incident to be released, with redactions made to protect his wife and kids.

George did not respond to KERA News requests for comment after the news broke, but in a statement on X Monday, he called conversation around the incident a smear attempt on his family and said the “desperate attack” wouldn’t change anything.

“Like every family, we’ve had misunderstandings and disputes,” the statement reads. “However, we have never stopped loving each other and our marriage is stronger than

In an earlier era of politics, Jillson said, personal issues like these may have seriously threatened George’s success. But he said it will likely be overshadowed by Republicans’ desire for a leader who pledges to fight Democrats tooth and nail.

“If that candidate, that fighter has some blemishes on their record, that's regrettable, but it's certainly not disqualifying,” Jillson said. “Because like Ken Paxton or like Donald Trump, Abraham George is willing to bring the fight to the Democrats, and that will smooth over a lot of personal blemishes on your record.”

Got a tip? Email Toluwani Osibamowo at You can follow Toluwani on X @tosibamowo.

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Toluwani Osibamowo is a general assignments reporter for KERA. She previously worked as a news intern for Texas Tech Public Media and copy editor for Texas Tech University’s student newspaper, The Daily Toreador, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is originally from Plano.