The head of the Republican Party in Texas’ most populous county resigned Monday after a brief tenure plagued by controversy over a racist social media post.
Keith Nielson, chairman of the Harris County GOP, handed in his letter of resignation Monday to the state party’s secretary, according to the Texas Tribune.
The letter was not made public and the reason behind the resignation was unclear, the Tribune reported. Nielson did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Nielson, who defeated the former county party chairman in March, faced calls to step down even before he took office when he posted on social media a Martin Luther King Jr. quote next to a banana, which was interpreted as a use of the racist trope associating Black people with monkeys.
He made the post during the period of national unrest following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police in May. Nielson claimed at the time that he was trying to imply that “it’s bananas” to engage in violence instead of peaceful protest.
Following backlash from members of his own party, Nielson said he would forfeit his position, but later reversed that decision and took office in August, according to the Tribune.
On Monday, Rolando Garcia, a member of the Harris County GOP’s advisory board, said Nielson’s resignation was effective immediately and a successor would be chosen by the party’s executive committee.
Harris County, home to the city of Houston, has become increasingly Democratic in recent elections, the Tribune noted. President-elect Joe Biden carried it by 13 percentage points this year, winning slightly more of the vote there than Hillary Clinton did in 2016.