Image: Montgomery County Republican Party Vice Chairman Reagan Reed (right), who provided the leadership and the strategy for the giant electoral win of the entire Republican slate in the November 6, 2018, General Election. Reed appears with newly-sworn Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough on January 1, 2019, at the Lone Star Convention Center in Conroe.
Conroe, February 17 – With 20/20 hindsight, and three months to reflect upon the full results of the November 6, 2018, General Election, the truth stands out loudly and clearly: Vice Chairman Reagan Reed is the Founding Father of the Montgomery County Republican Party (MCRP). Reed is the first MCRP leader who provided leadership, strategy, and added value to the Republican Party.
Sadly, Wally Wilkerson, who still clings to the title of “County Chairman” but does nothing, has never done more in fifty-five (55) years than acting as a somewhat friendly and somewhat unfriendly receptionist. He sat at the front desk when people arrived but he added no value to the business of MCRP other than that.
One of the reasons three months to reflect upon the 2018 election makes it so clear that Reed is the Founding Father of MCRP is that time period shows how exceptional Montgomery County was in comparison almost to every other suburban county in Texas. While rock solid Republican counties such as Collin, Fort Bend, and Williamson slid towards the democrat column, Montgomery County had one of the strongest Republican turnouts and results in the County’s history, especially given the frenetic pace at which the democrat Party worked for more than a year prior to the election.
In every suburban county in Texas, except Montgomery, anglo Republican women began to turn away from the Republican Party. In Montgomery County, however, Republican women remained with the GOP.
Montgomery County delivered to United States Senator Ted Cruz almost half of his victory margin. Wilkerson literally had nothing to do with that result. In fact, Wilkerson harmed the Republican effort by lying to financial contributors that money they gave his little group would help in the General Election campaign, when, in fact, he used it to support paying his private secretary and his private office rent.
Wilkerson had not run a General Election campaign in Montgomery County for the Republican Party since 1994. Even then, it was hardly a “state-of-the-art” effort but merely a small telephone bank operation largely organized through materials which the State Republican Party had supplied.
Analysts who spoke immediately after the election credited Montgomery County with two reasons that the Republican Party, under Reed’s leadership, had such an extraordinary positive result in 2018:
- (1) Unlike other counties’ Republican Party organizations, Montgomery County’s General Election campaign had a strong theme: “The Republican Party is The Party of Reform.”
- (2) The Republican Party had an enormous grassroots participation.
Undoubtedly, both of those factors resulted in the most positive electoral result the MCRP has ever enjoyed, particularly in the face of declining GOP support throughout the remainder of Texas.
Where Reed made such a gigantic difference and displayed his brilliance and his strategic savvy was in the manner in which he reorganized the Republican Party to encourage grassroots participation.
Let’s step back and look at the military: the lessons of the German blitzkrieg, and “junior innovators”
For a full understanding of what happened under Reed’s leadership, we need to examine an important phenomenon of recent military history.
Some military establishments have more successfully developed operational and organizational changes to exploit fully the new technologies available to them. It’s not a technological race, however. It’s an organizational one, because the nations which have most successfully implemented revolutions in military affairs are those “in the intellectual task of finding the most appropriate innovations in concepts of operation and making organizational changes to fully exploit the technologies already available and those that will be available in the course” of coming years, to quote Andrew Marshall, the former Director of Net Assessment in the United States Department of Defense.
Marshall contrasted the United States and Germany during the interwar period between World War I and World War II as an important example of how organizational change is so important to military revolutions. The Third Reich certainly had no monopoly over the technology and science behind tanks, other mechanized and armored vehicles, and radios, which became essential components of the blitzkrieg.
Why then were the Germans were so successful in implementing blitzkrieg, while the United States had similar, if not superior, technology, but clearly was not as adept at using it, particularly the first two or three years after the United States entered the war in Europe? The Germans were far more innovative in their use of armored tactics and did far better with a divided force on the battlefield than did the Allied Forces almost during all of World War Two.
The Germans enjoyed a particular leadership character resulting from Germany’s General Staff system where brighter officers were selected early in their careers and were steered to gain experience in rapid decisions coordinated with other field commanders. The German General Staff received constant encouragement from higher and more experienced commanders to think about military methods intellectually and operationally.
In contrast, American commanders received far less encouragement to consider battlefield tactics in the context of the big pictures of entire battles and military operations. High level commanders were more political and didn’t want “interference” from subordinates who might want the credit for operational successes.
As a result of the encouragement that they received to consider both the strategic implications of their command decisions as well as appropriate tactics to implement them, the Germans became far better prepared to seize the opportunities from technological innovations than were the United States, its allies, or even Japan at the beginning of World War II.
While the United States had the technological advantage over Germany, the German General Staff had engendered a culture in which junior innovators could act as “strategic sergeants” to innovate in the field. That’s how the blitzkrieg operationally became a reality and gave the German Army a decisive advantage from 1939 to 1943 in World War II’s ground war in Europe.
Comparison to the Montgomery County Republican Party
Since Wally Wilkerson became County Chairman, the MCRP was static in the sense that the Republican Party did nothing to cause growth. The number of Republican voters in Montgomery County grew because the population which moved to suburban Montgomery County had strong Republican and conservative tendencies, but Wilkerson added no value to the growth or to the organization of the MCRP. Wilkerson was merely a receptionist.
Similarly, Wilkerson did nothing to spur activists. Great leaders of the Texas Federation of Republican Women, such as Miriam Burton, Judy Smith, Billie Gray, Lynda Perry, Mollie Herrington, and Martha Gustavsen provided the energy and the organization, which Wilkerson and his Montgomery County Republican Party lacked.
That all changed on June 26, 2018, however, when conservatives finally were able to change the manner in which MCRP operated. Rather than being a static “top-down” organization totally dependent upon Wilkerson’s uninspiring dictatorial rule, Reed, as the elected Vice Chairman, John Wertz, as the elected Treasurer, and Rachel Bingham as the elected Secretary created an organization in which all activists could innovate, contribute ideas, and determine the most effective methods of campaigning out in the field where voters live, reside, and work.
Reed and his team developed a participatory model for activist individuals not only to help but to become decision makers in the field and in meetings. Reed and his leadership team passed new Bylaws for the Montgomery County Republican Party on June 26 which decentralized authority and brought rank-and-file activists into the fold of Party leadership.
At Victory 2018 Committee meetings, which Wilkerson failed ever to attend and with which he played no part, while Dale Inman and Kelli Cook ran the meetings as Chairman and Vice Chair, respectively, the members made the decisions how to conduct the Party’s General Election campaign.
As challenges developed in the field, they didn’t call Wilkerson’s office for direction (he wouldn’t know how to handle such problems anyway.) Instead, brilliant volunteers such as Jennie Stephenson, Jonna Johnson, Suzanne Rogers, and Bill Brenza found solutions as the challenges arose. They didn’t have to seek a central authority. They, as field officers, were the authority.
Sometimes leaders should recognize when they must allow others to contribute their creativity, talent, and willingness to work. That is precisely where Reed has shown enormous dynamic wisdom, which contrasts mightily with Wilkerson’s static unwillingness to allow volunteers to act without his direct and overbearing supervision.
In 2018, the Montgomery County Republican Party enjoyed a breathtaking victory, which perplexed other County Republican Party organizations across Texas who found such grave challenges among the electorate in their localities. Reed, the true Founding Father of the Montgomery County Republican Party, found how to inspire individual activists to unify the Republican Party for a great victory for the entire Republican slate on November 6.