Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler announced his resignation Saturday, citing personal reasons. It's effective immediately, he said.

"Friends, this job is hard. The time commitment, financial commitment, stress and overwhelming responsibility takes its toll," Mechler said in his resignation letter. "After a lot of prayer and reflection, I’ve decided that it is time for me to focus on my family."

Speculation began swirling Wednesday that Mechler was preparing to step down, and party officials had said he would respond to the rumors Saturday.

Mechler has served as chairman since 2015, when he took over after his predecessor, Steve Munisteri, went to work for the presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Mechler won re-election a year later, easily defeating challenger Jared Woodfill, the former chairman of the Harris County Republican Party.

Mechler's tenure has been prominently defined by the 2016 presidential election, during which he worked to get Texas Republicans on board with the controversial GOP nominee, Donald Trump. It was not an easy task — the state's junior U.S. senator, Ted Cruz, had waged a long, bitter battle against Trump throughout the primaries.

The State Republican Executive Committee will pick Mechler's replacement at its next quarterly meeting, which is scheduled for June 2-3 in Austin. At least three potential candidates have surfaced: James Dickey, the chairman of the Travis County GOP; Rick Figueroa, a party activist from Brenham who is close to Mechler; and Mark Ramsey, an SREC member from Spring.

With Mechler's announcement imminent, the Texas Democratic Party issued a statement bidding him farewell, questioning whether he was departing because the state's Republicans are "more divided than ever," among other things.

"It's a damn shame Tom Mechler may be leaving the Texas Republican Party," Gilberto Hinojosa, the Democrats' chairman, said. "Personally, I always enjoyed our exchanges because he made Democrats look so good."

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/05/20/prewrite-mechler-resigns-texas-gop-chairman/.

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