HOUSTON - As Houston mayoral candidates gathered on a debate stage two weeks out from the election, Challenger Tony Buzbee was asked about his endorsement by Dr. Steve Hotze and the Conservative Republicans of Harris County - a group that in 2015 was instrumental in defeating the proposed Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.
Monday night, Buzbee was asked if he agreed with Hotze's views on LGBTQ issues.
"No and I don't really know Mr. Hotze. I've met him at church once. I was surprised to receive that (endorsement). I'm not sure why I received it," answered Buzbee.
Today, Hotze's spokesman Jared Woodfill responded, saying Buzbee met not once, but on multiple occasions with Dr. Hotze in pursuit of his support with conservative voters.
"Dr. Hotze had spent at least four separate occasions with Mr. Buzbee, couple of times, I think, three times at his house and they did actually go to church together. He told us he was with us and he was opposed to HERO and he wasn't going to bring it back. He told us he was with us getting rid of Drag Queen Storytime in Houston public libraries," said Woodfill.
FOX 26 asked Buzbee if he recalls meeting Hotze and seeking his endorsement.
"Yes, I have met him, obviously, I have a picture with him. I met with a lot of people, but as far as engaging in his, I don't even know the name of his group to be honest, I'm not involved in any of that," said Buzbee.
Woodfill says all deals are off.
"At this point, we've withdrawn the support, clearly based on the response last night. It appears Mr. Buzbee is trying to disassociate himself with the organization, disassociate himself with Dr. Hotze. And just to be honest with you, Dr. Hotze is very concerned that he would forget about the four days that they actually spent time together," said Woodfill.
Sources tell FOX 26 this breakup began when Hotze learned Buzbee expressed support for a new version of the equal right ordinance while addressing Houston's LGBTQ Political Caucus.