In an unprecedented move, the Bexar County Democratic Party voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to kick Dan Ramos from his short-lived post as chair. Amid cheering, many insisted the 104-5 vote to oust the embattled Ramos, just one year after his swearing in, marks the first step in moving the party past its recent rocky history.
The party will now meet May 17 to choose a new chair.
Long before Ramos’ inflammatory comments and the strong demand for his resignation that followed, his detractors within the BCDP Party accused him of being combative as chair, hostile and unwilling to move the party past some serious bad blood left in the wake of a damning embezzlement scandal.
In his short time as chair, Ramos was certainly not a unifier – he took charge, after the theft of some $200,000 of party cash, vowing to shake up the BCDP and “root out” other party members he still holds responsible for the crime (The District Attorney’s Office has repeatedly insisted that former party treasurer Dwayne Adams, now set for trial, is the only one facing charges in the theft). Soon after his swearing in, Ramos quickly attempted to single-handedly fill vacant precinct chair spots and took sole control of the party’s finances, causing a sizable rift in the party.
After Ramos’ toxic comments in March, equating homosexuals to polio-stricken children and the local Stonewall Democrats to the “fucking Nazi Party,” party members and a long list of local elected Democrats had enough, and called for Ramos to step down. A small, special committee voted last month to recommend Ramos’ removal after hearing a litany of charges against him, ranging from misconduct to neglect of duty.
Despite a last-ditch effort from Ramos, or someone in Ramos’ corner, to call off Tuesday night’s meeting or at least create enough confusion peel people away from the larger BCDP gathering, members packed the downtown Luby’s conference room. Longstanding party members appeared shocked by the exceptional turnout, laughing and cheering as precinct chairs continued to stroll through the doors.
The massive turnout also allowed the party to do something it has failed to accomplish for at least a year – elect new party leaders. In all, 22 new precinct chairs were sworn in.
Ramos has, in the past, said he would fight any attempt to oust him and has called the process of removal “invalid.” Since neither state nor local Democratic Party rules specify how to remove an unruly chair, the party went forward under Robert’s Rules of Order, parliamentary rules used to guide public bodies across the country. Ramos has called the move “invalid,” saying he’ll launch a court battle, though he’s seriously ill and was reportedly hospitalized late last month.
While five voted against the measure to oust Ramos, none spoke up in his defense. Michael Putman, a precinct chair who voted against the measure, said he feared the party was moving ahead hastily and outside of the rules.
"I think what [Ramos] did was reprehensible, but I just don't agree with the way we're doing this," he said. "Impeaching somebody after he's in the hospital? That just seems like a violation of due process to me."
Putman said he’d have the party wait for legislation drafted by state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio. The bill would allow state party executive committees to remove an incompetent county chair.