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State Representative Arlene Wohlgemuth Wohlgemuth. Her railings about party purity are part of an effort to control the party and, by extension, the entire count, Mize said. “She’s been very dogmatic in her positions, going outside the county and the district and recruiting people [like Bosworth] to run as Republicans here, and making spurious claims,” he said. “I think Arlene could be more effective than she is,” he continued. “Compromise is what makes the world go round.” Mize, who was county chairman in the late ’80s, said some political newcomers don’t understand the way things are done in Johnson County “I don’t think endorsing one candidate in the party over the other, for example, is the true function of a party,” he said. “It alienated a lot of Republicans.” The county’s population has skyrocketed in the past decade or so, especially in the north, as Fort Worth has moved south. The newcomers, many of them younger and some from out-of-state, often believe in a more ideological style of politics than the old-timers, said County Chairman Jeff Judd. There are also divisions caused by an intense traditional rivalry between Cleburne, the county seat, and Burleson, a Fort Worth suburb, according to Judd. “I think the courthouse crowd are afraid Burleson is going to take over,” he said. In effect, it already has. In addition to Wohlgemuth, Johnson County voters have elected Burleson-based John Neill, brother of conservative state education board member Richard Neill, to be 18th District Court Judge, as well as County Clerk Curtis Douglas, also from Burleson. But Wohlgemuth remains Burleson’s brightest star. Already active in the Republican Women’s Club and an avid abortion her first legislative race to get even with incumbent Bernard Erickson, who made the mistake of switching from Republican to Democrat before the election. Wohlgemuth’s power base has always been Steppingstone Church in Burleson, where pastor Gloria Gillespie has been known to instruct her politically active congregation on how to vote. The church has become a political power in north Johnson County, electing members to the Burleson City Council, school board, and other offices. Some members are precinct chairs and election judges. Steppingstone also dominates the Burleson Ministerial Alliance and is aligned with similarly minded funda mentalist churches throughout the county. To be elected in Burleson, popular wisdom goes, a candidate has to get the nod from the Alliance. And, increasingly, to be elected in Johnson County, a candidate has to get the nod from Burleson. Yet Wohlgemuth may have burned some bridges in her home base as well. Supporters of Pct. 2 Commissioner Ron Harmon are also angry. Harmon Burleson Republican, resigned from the commissioners court reportedly to run for Wohlgemuth’s House seat, after she announced plans last summer to run for Congress. When U.S. Rep. Joe onto the county after redistricting, however, Wohlgemuth decided to run for her old seat instead. Harmon was the odd man out, and Arlene apparently didn’t do much to cushion his fall. His supporters want revenge. “She turned her back on Ron,” said one, who asked not to be identified for fear of raising Wohlgemuth’s wrath. “She isn’t the good Christian she wants everyone to think she is, she’s a ruthless, ambitious bitch.” When the counting was over on primary night, cheers could be heard from the Johnson County courthouse. Only one of the four committee-endorsed candidates, commissioner’s court hopeful John Matthews, won and that by a narrow 15-vote margin. Bridewell, who has no Democratic opponent, will be on the bench for at least one more term, and Roger Harmon will be the Republican nominee for county judge. In the state Senate race, meanwhile, Averitt took Johnson County, over candidate Ed Harrison, and won the nomination. “I’m going to stay with the Republican Party,” the mild-mannered Bridewell said, after the smoke had cleared. “I hope that in the future, the executive committee would support all the candidates, though, and let the voters decide.” continued on page 19 4/26/02 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9