GOP Hopefuls Try to Differentiate Themselves

Court Alley, Morgan Meyer, and Chart Westcott mingle with members of the Park Cities Republican Women and their guests before Tuesday's forum at the Museum of Biblical Art. (Photos: Kate Simone)
Court Alley, Morgan Meyer, and Chart Westcott mingle with members of the Park Cities Republican Women and their guests before Tuesday’s forum at the Museum of Biblical Art. (Photos: Kate Simone)

Republican voters in Texas House District 108 will have a hard time choosing a nominee based on policies. When asked to detail their views at a forum Tuesday night, candidates Court Alley, Morgan Meyer, and Chart Westcott repeatedly used the words “agree” and “echo.” Meyer even uttered the word “ditto” once.

“We’re certainly going to agree with each other, because we’re three Republicans sitting up here,” Westcott said during the event hosted by the Park Cities Republican Women club.

Because the candidates have so much in common politically, each tried to highlight what separates them personally. For example, Meyer twice said he’s “the only one who has skin in the game” regarding education. His two daughters attend Hyer Elementary School in University Park; Alley’s only child is still a toddler, and Westcott has no kids.

During the same discussion of education, Alley mentioned his status as a small-business owner when promoting merit pay for teachers: “If I paid my guys based on how long they sit in a room, I’d go out of business.” Alley owns Caruth Marketing, a firm he operates largely from his Devonshire house.

Westcott, who spoke last on the education topic, was the only candidate to bring up the “Robin Hood” financing system by name. “I’ll fight hard to get every dime I can from the state of Texas back into the Highland Park Independent School District,” he promised, only moments after the M Streets resident said, “I don’t live in the Park Cities. I know better than that. I can’t afford those taxes.”

People familiar with Westcott and his family may find such a statement curious. His last two campaign-finance reports have detailed $100,000 worth of contributions from his parents, Carl and Jimmy Westcott of Highland Park. Chart Westcott is a partner and general counsel of Commodore Partners, a private equity company that is a subsidiary of the family’s investment firm, Westcott LLC.

Westcott mentioned his father during his opening statement. He said Carl became a success despite a ninth-grade education, and Chart is running because “liberals are attacking the American dream.”

But Alley and Meyer both mentioned in their opening statements that they personally had to perform manual labor and take part-time jobs to put themselves through school. When discussing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants — something all three candidates oppose — Alley said, “That’s not fair to, frankly, people like me who had to pay our own way through college.”

Meyer tried to provide further contrast between himself and his rivals by citing his 15 years of experience as a commercial litigator for the Bracewell & Giuliani firm. “What I do currently is what I would do in Austin,” he said. “I am the only candidate who would not need on-the-job training.”

Westcott, who holds a law degree from SMU, made a similar claim after citing his service on the Texas Real Estate Commission and his experience lobbying for legislation such as Alicia’s Law, which targets sexual predators and child pornographers. “I’m the only candidate who has already done what this job requires, which is getting things done in Austin on behalf of Texans and the voters of District 108,” Westcott said.

The only distinct, but slight, difference in the candidates’ policies was on the subject of same-sex marriage. All three cited the voter-approved constitutional amendment in 2005 that said marriage in Texas could only be between one man and one woman.

“When the people of Texas have spoken, it’s our job to protect that vision,” said Meyer, who spoke first on that topic. But he also added that “government needs to stay out of it. I’m all about less government, and less intrusion into our personal lives.” The other two candidates did not go that far.

At least one member of the Park Cities Republican Women believes the GOP voters of District 108 can’t lose on March 4, no matter which candidate wins the primary.

“They need to run for different offices, because they’re all so good,” Mindy Stenger said after Tuesday’s forum. “Their talents are being wasted. We need all of them representing us in Austin.”

27 thoughts on “GOP Hopefuls Try to Differentiate Themselves

  • January 29, 2014 at 11:10 am
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    It was great seeing all three candidates speak on the issues and not resort to personal attacks (like seems to happen in these comments all too often). Any of the three would represent us well and I look forward to hearing more from all of them.

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  • January 29, 2014 at 11:20 am
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    I also concur it was truly refreshing to see an honest discussion of the issues in a gentlemanly, thoughtful discussion. Thank you Park Cities Republican Women for putting this event on and thank you to each of the candidates for their intelligent discussion and consideration of their audience and each other.

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  • January 29, 2014 at 11:30 am
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    The biggest hypocrisy of our Republican party is immigration. The leaders of the farm industry, construction industry, restaurant industry, all conservative Republican businessmen, lobby for cheap expendable labor. They fully admit that they need cheap labor to make their businesses profitable. Yet when it comes to elections all you hear from our side is don’t let them go to college, throw the bums out and take their old grandmother too. It is pathetic to hear the GOP talk about “self deportation” for entire families on the one hand then ask for the Hispanic vote they so desperately need on the other. We need to grow up, own the mess we have created and start treating the people we lured into this country with respect.

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  • January 29, 2014 at 12:23 pm
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    Morgan Meyer has earned my vote. He is the most qualified and accomplished candidate in the race.

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  • January 29, 2014 at 1:36 pm
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    ^Morgan Meyer paid staffer is obvious

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  • January 29, 2014 at 2:14 pm
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    Did Chart address why he and his family contributed so much money to Jerry Brown’s gubernatorial campaign in California? To me, that is about the only thing that differentiates any of these guys. I don’t get how you can give money to one of the most liberal governors in the country and then turn around and call yourself a conservative.

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  • January 29, 2014 at 4:23 pm
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    Morgan’s name tag puts Court’s and Chart’s to shame. Well played.

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  • January 29, 2014 at 4:33 pm
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    Avid Reader, if you like Morgan’s name tag, you would have loved the one sported by Tom Nowak, who’s facing Susan Hawk in the Republican primary for district attorney. His had an interior bulb that put his name in lights.

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  • January 30, 2014 at 1:08 pm
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    Has no one else seriously noticed that after Roger Staubach endorsed Chart then Jeff Staubach endorsed Morgan Meyer? Looks to me Roger didn’t go running to tell his son was a winner he thinks Chart is…. perhaps Roger endorsed Chart too hastily

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  • January 30, 2014 at 1:16 pm
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    Pretty obvious Southern Gent is a shill for either Alley or Meyer. Westcott has raised over $300K for Republican candidates and causes. Frankly that beats the other two by a mile. Remember folks, they don’t trash you if you’re in second place.

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  • January 30, 2014 at 1:26 pm
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    I got a mailer where Morgan Meyer is bragging about being backed by Kay Bailout Hutchison and that scumball liberal Rudy Guiliani (who is pro abortion and pro same sex marriage). That makes Meyer the RINO Republican in this race, he will NOT be getting my vote.

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  • January 30, 2014 at 3:49 pm
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    School taxes in HPISD are LOWER than DISD (Chart Westcott lives in the M Streets, but let’s not let the facts get in the way of some stupid political grandstanding.

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  • January 30, 2014 at 9:11 pm
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    I am wondering the same thing as Confused…. and why is Marianne Staubach listed as supporting both Morgan and Chart?

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  • January 30, 2014 at 10:13 pm
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    Uh, Fact Check, property taxes are based on HOME VALUE. The average rice of an HPISD home is over $1,000,000. So you pay more in HPISD than you do in DISD where property values are much lower. Hello? Anyone home?

    And Confused, Roger Staubach’s children are ADULTS and are older than me – and I am not young. They started making their own decisions a long time ago. like when they got married, got jobs and started paying taxes. When you get your driver’s license you might start figuring some of this out.

    Honestly, some people engage their fingers to a keyboard before their brains kick in.

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  • January 31, 2014 at 8:35 am
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    Tommy Howell- Your pucker is showing.

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  • January 31, 2014 at 9:20 am
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    Um, Tommy Howell, check the tax rates in Preston Hollow versus HPISD. The City of Dallas tax rate is $.797 compared to University Park’s .2743. The actual rate in Dallas is much higher. Yes, taxes are based upon home value, but the rate is significantly higher so theoretically Fact Check is correct.

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  • January 31, 2014 at 11:35 am
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    ParkCitiesParent- why did Chart and Daddy Westcott give campaign contributions to liberal California Democrat Jerry Brown?

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  • January 31, 2014 at 1:42 pm
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    Tommy Howell – Roger Staubach never endorsed Chart. The Westcott Camp just used his name (i.e. same thing he did with Tom Leppert). The Staubach parents gave an equal amount to Meyer and Westcott.
    Westcott also gave $2,500 to Jerry Brown and his parent’s gave $100,000 – haha, yeah he’s a REAL conservative (yeah, right)

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  • January 31, 2014 at 1:52 pm
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    Average residential property in DISD is $125,000, the average in HPISD is $1,264,000. Your tax bill is higher in HPISD even when your house is identical because it is worth more. I can explain it to you but I can’t understand it for you.

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  • January 31, 2014 at 3:21 pm
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    @Tommy Howell – and you are shill for Westscott. You point your finger at someone and you have 3 of your own fingers pointed back at you. Every post about this election you are calling out others for doing what you are doing, backing the candidate of their liking. Take a long look in the mirror and get off your high horse please, thank you sir!

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  • January 31, 2014 at 4:38 pm
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    @Tommy, unfortunately, politicians can’t do much to lower home VALUES (Obama regs excluded), but they can obviously influence tax rates. Mr. Westcott would do well to understand that the actual rates in the Park Cities is actually LOWER than those in the city of Dallas. It’s not the taxes he can’t afford, it’s the the inflated value of the home. If you’re trying to help out Mr. Westcott, perhaps you should try to keep the condescending attitude in check. It’s hard enough to vote for someone with so little life experience other than working in the family’s venture capital business. He’s spent a lot of time working on his “conservative credentials” and charitable endeavors, I agree. However, our current community organizer Prez is a prime example of why experience in the real world as an executive is a necessary component of any political candidate’s success.

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  • January 31, 2014 at 5:07 pm
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    @UPNative: Those amounts were not exactly equal. Westcott’s semi-annual report from July included a $2,000 contribution from Roger Staubach. Meyer’s semi-annual report from January included a $2,500 contribution from Marianne Staubach — plus $2,500 from the Staubachs’ son, Jeff, and $1,000 from one of their sons-in-law, John Gates.

    As for whether or not Roger Dodger’s name is being used inappropriately by the Westcott campaign, I’ve put in a call to Captain America’s office so we can get an answer straight from the man himself.

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  • January 31, 2014 at 6:01 pm
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    It looks like both Meyer and Westcott have problems with their supporters list. May want to call DA candidate Susan Hawk as well and see why her name was on Meyers’s website then poof it was gone. It sounds like Morgan and Chart both play a little fast and loose with their “endorsements.”

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  • February 1, 2014 at 9:54 am
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    Well Roger did give to Chart and he does support him.

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  • February 1, 2014 at 10:12 am
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    Hey I agree the debates were refreshing and all three are good canidates.
    The best was Alley and Chart, in that order. The trial lawer was just the poor boy of the neuro surgeon father from Lubock. ( give me a break ). And endorsed by some Xsenator who decided she wanted to be governor of texas.
    Got her but kicked in that election by our current governor.

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  • February 1, 2014 at 1:49 pm
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    Somehow you diminish the “trial lawyer” who was just the “poor boy of a neurosurgeon from Lubbock”, yet don’t mention that Chart is the poor boy of a multimillionaire power broker from Dallas, whose only job has been working for his father? Give me a break

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  • February 3, 2014 at 10:09 am
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    @Real McCoy. Maybe the Westcotts supported Brown because they have investments in California and are fiscally conservative. The American Conservative said Jerry Brown was “much more of a fiscal conservative than Governor Reagan,” whom he succeeded. Anyway, I’m for Leigh Bailey.

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