Last Friday, it looked like Bexar County’s Democratic chairman, Dan Ramos, had surely committed political suicide. In an interview with the San Antonio Current, Ramos equated gay Democrats with the “Tea Party and the fucking Nazi Party,” called them “termites” eating away at Democratic foundations, and sprinkled in some insults for African Americans and Anglos while he was at it. Boyd Richie, the state party chairman, quickly called for his resignation, along with the Stonewall Democrats. This morning, before Ramos held a press conference to address the matter, the San Antonio Express-News also called on him to step down.
Considering that even before the comments, Ramos’ eccentric and autocratic leadership style was causing division in the local party—a point Richie made strongly in his letter—resignation seemed the only logical step.
But Ramos, when the time came, did not even hint at leaving his two-year elected position. He would not resign or apologize.
How defiant was he? Let’s count the ways. How’s this for starters:
Ramos also referred to State Democratic Chairman Boyd Richie as a “racist bastard” and an “idiot” who’s been too busy to help the local party. “Gay people have been advising Richie,” he said, “and he slipped when he asked me to resign.”
Not only did Ramos refuse to apologize for calling gay Democrats “termites,” he defended his use of the term—and expanded on it:
Ramos reiterated that he believed that gays were like “white termites who have infiltrated the party much like termites infiltrate your house,” and were co-conspirators with direct involvement in the theft of over $200,000 from party coffers. …
“I’ve always tried to be politically correct, however the gays, through the Stonewall Democrats, have taken over the party. Hell, my opponent in the election, Choco Meza, she’s a lesbian,” Ramos said.
As QSanAntonio pointed out, Meza, his opponent in last year’s election, is not a lesbian. And, of course, taking a strong stand as Boyd Richie did against a county chairman who insults three of your major constituencies and tries to divide your party along racial lines—that hardly makes you a “racist bastard.”
During the conference, Ramos also tried to pin the alleged embezzlement of $200,000 from the Bexar Democratic Party on the gay Stonewall Democrats. The former county treasurer is charged with embezzlement. Whatever the sexuality of anyone involved, though, it sounds completely absurd for Ramos to claim, with no evidence, that the theft was some kind of organized gay Democratic scheme to destroy the party from within.
As sad as this situation is, there is one quote from Ramos’ unhinged press conference that inspires laughter:
“This was not a face-to-face interview, it was on the phone,” Ramos said of the Current interview, “How do we even know it’s my voice?”
How do we know? Probably because you sounded exactly the same way at today’s press conference.
As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s not easy to get rid of a county chair in Texas. There’s not much wiggle room for a state party that has one of its chairman turn into an outspoken bigot—and a potentially divisive force.
I asked Dan Graney, a party activist in San Antonio and head of the state Stonewall Democrats, what Democrats could do now. “My personal view is that a complaint should be filed with the State Democratic Party calling for Mr. Ramos’ removal as County Chair,” Graney wrote by email. “We may be on ‘thin ice’ legally to do this, but there is a process for doing this under the State Party Rules and a Bexar County Democratic voter must initiate the process to get it going.”
Ramos surely isn’t speaking for many people with his paranoid comments. But as party leaders who’ve worked with him told me, he’s not just shooting his mouth off randomly. Ramos is trying to tap into some Democrats’ unspoken resentments of their fellow Democrats. In a county as vital to the party’s fortunes as Bexar—one that’s home to many of the Democrats’ young leaders statewide—that’s potentially poisonous.
Will those young Democratic leaders—or older ones, for that matter—step up and make it clear they condemn Ramos’ tirades, and his attempt to foster racial divisiveness in the party? So far, not one has joined the party chairman in denouncing Ramos’ hate speech and bigotry.
A protest demanding that elected Democrats speak out against Ramos will be held tonight outside a Democratic fundraiser in San Antonio. (For details, go here.)