“I’m in the midst of a little legal thing right now, but I’m sure that will be water under the bridge very shortly,” said Ambrose, who has in the past denied the two charges against him. They involve his handling of the party’s account for primary election expenses.
He said the charges had made his experience as GOP county chairman “more fun.”
On a voice vote, precinct chairmen on the county’s GOP Executive Committee without dissent called for Ambrose’s resignation earlier this year. He does not recognize the legitimacy of that meeting since he did not call it, and on Thursday night said there are “renegades” in the county GOP.
Ambrose called what he termed a quarterly meeting of the Executive Committee Thursday night at the senior citizens center. The faction of the party opposed to him contends that Madaline Barber, who Ambrose does not recognize as the committee’s secretary, calls meetings rather than Ambrose, but he contends he is supposed to call them.
Only one of the about 15 elected precinct chairmen—Wayne Oney—attended Thursday’s gathering, along with four of 11 vice chairmen Ambrose has appointed; his wife, party Treasurer Linda Ambrose; and three members of the general public, including a representative of The Mirror.
The faction of the party opposing Ambrose has called what it contends is a quarterly meeting of the party July 9, and does not recognize the vice chairmen appointed by him as legitimate executive committee members.
Ambrose told Thursday night’s gathering, “I’m really not disappointed we have a small crowd.” He pointed out it was summer, when people are vacationing, and said the attendance might have been lightened by the fact a GOP candidate for sheriff, Greg Mandreger, was holding a campaign kickoff barbecue for sheriff at that hour at Lake Gladewater.
The chairman and Mrs. Ambrose discussed the upcoming 2012 election cycle, noting Sept. 13 of this year is the first day to file for precinct office while Dec. 12 is filing deadline for public office, and write-in candidates for the GOP primary must file by Dec. 17.
Ambrose also said he would “make every effort” to see that members of the military are given the chance to vote “in a timely fashion.” He charged they didn’t get to vote in the 2010 GOP primary because “my predecessor (Brenda Patterson) completely bungled the military vote. . . She didn’t send out the ballots in a timely manner.”
“We’re not going to have a situation like we had in the last election,” pledged Ambrose, who ousted Mrs. Patterson by 25 votes in a runoff last April.
(Contacted by The Mirror Friday for comment, Mrs. Patterson said “only the county clerk has the legal authority to handle mail ballots. If Mr. Ambrose thinks that the county chair sends out mail ballots, he is once more mistaken about the duty of the county chair. It is a violation of the primary election law for the county chair to have any knowledge of who has requested a ballot by mail. That information is not available legally to any county chairman until after the primary election is over.”)
Ambrose also told Thursday’s gathering he wanted to have a “positive” message and “positive outlook in the next election cycle,” telling his fellow Republicans there is no reason “to argue with an idiot” who disagrees with them. He also said it was “good to have a positive attitude. . .not attack anyone.”
He also discussed plans for having party members go on “regional awareness tours” of area infrastructure, noting that he was in a group elsewhere in Texas that toured DFW Airport, police stations and county jails. Referring to his booking on the felony charges, Ambrose quipped that he was “now familiar with (the Upshur jail) myself.”
Examples of infrastructure the Upshur GOP could tour include the Pirkey power plant at Hallsville, the Ozarka Water bottling facility, local airports, and the Grand Saline salt mine, the chairman said.
Ambrose also noted that State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) had been scheduled to speak at Thursday’s meeting, but couldn’t because the legislature was in special session, partly to consider a bill Simpson proposed.
Simpson is expected to represent Upshur County after legislative redistricting is completed, and Ambrose said “he seems like a reasonable guy.”
Mrs. Ambrose said she and her husband have been paying the Upshur GOP’s expenses for rent, meeting notices, etc., because the party has no bank account for upkeep.
She said executive committee members who “refuse to come” to meetings called by her husband are receiving advance notices of such meetings by certified mail.
Added Ken Ambrose, “I’m not going to do any more backbreaking work on the Republican headquarters while we’ve got some renegades out running around, not cooperating with me” or the state.
He also thanked the Republican Women of Upshur County club for its work and said the Upshur GOP’s phone number of 903-THE VOTE is active, although the party’s county headquarters in Silver Alley is not currently open.
“I don’t care who calls. I will return the call,” Ambrose said. “The party is alive and well.”