Third Quarterly State Republican Executive Committee Recap

Republican Party of Texas - The third quarterly meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee was held on Saturday, September 13th at RPT headquarters in Austin. This was the first full meeting of the SREC since members were elected at the state convention in June. Committees usually meet on the Friday before the SREC meeting, however, committee members were due to be appointed on Saturday so they held unofficial meetings on Friday in order to start discussing the business they intend on pursuing before the next SREC meeting.

As always, Saturday morning kicked off with a prayer service led by Randy Davenport. The general session began with the usual order of business including pledges to both the United States and Texas flags, led by Mike Goldman and Mike McCloskey respectively, the National Anthem, led by Rhonda Lacy and Jane Cansino leading the singing of Texas, Our Texas. The Proxy Committee was then appointed before roll call was taken and SREC packets were reviewed. We would like to thank Richard Hayes for stepping in as Parliamentarian for the day as our usual Parliamentarian, Butch Davis, was unable to attend this meeting.

Upon the approval of the minutes from the second quarterly meeting, the organizational meeting after the state convention, and the special meeting in August, there was an introduction of SREC members due to this being the first full meeting of the newly elected SREC. Kevin Patrick Yeary, candidate for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4, then gave a brief speech about his campaign and his goals as a judge if elected in November.

Next on the agenda was officer reports that began with the Chairman’s report from Chairman Munisteri. He opened his report by informing the committee that by this time next year he will no longer be Chairman of the party. Chairman Munisteri outlined his key goals to accomplish prior to turning over the reins of the party to whoever the new Chairman is. He stated that his goals fall into three categories, financial soundness, electoral success, and establishing a permanent infrastructure. Regarding the party's finances, he reported the Party had $1.8 million cash on hand and $0 debt. He cautioned that the party would spend a substantial portion of that on the upcoming elections and predicted the RPT would end the year with a cash balance between $500,000-$700,000 with no debt. As to the elections, he predicted we would have a statewide sweep as long as the party does not become complacent and we get out our vote. The Chairman noted that we have the most extensive infrastructure in place compared to the last several election cycles with offices around the state and staff in the field. It is his hope and current plan to continue the Victory operations after the elections. He is optimistic that in partnership with the RNC and the Victory committee that offices can be maintained and permanent field staff retained in order to start working on the 2016 elections immediately after November 4th. The Chairman has not decided the date on which he will resign. He has been requested by General Abbott to stay through the legislative session and has told General Abbott that he will shepherd the party through the 2014 elections and will reevaluate at the end of the year. The Chairman has said it is possible he will stay through any special sessions next year. He will make any future announcements as to his tenure prior to, rather than at, any future SREC quarterly meetings.

Vice Chairman, Amy Clark, gave the next officer report. Amy was elected as the party’s new Vice-Chairman after Melinda Fredricks did not seek re-election at the 2014 State Convention in June. She spoke about her goals as Vice-Chair including strengthening and developing our precincts through increasing political involvement and outreach. She also spoke about the need to work with groups such as Red State Women to bring out Republican women's voices throughout the state.

RNC Committeeman, Dr. Robin Armstrong, then gave his report where he spoke about the recent RNC meetings held in Chicago last month. He spoke about the various resolutions considered at the RNC meetings and how he voted on them. He also mentioned some of his goals to help increase outreach and turnout in the next election, specifically in the southern states. RNC Committeewoman, Toni Anne Dashiell, then gave her officer report. She expanded on Robin’s report on what the RNC is doing this year to increase outreach and engagement, including hiring full time staffers in offices across the nation. She also spoke about how crucial it is that Republicans take back the Senate. And, in an effort to gain additional representation in the U.S. House, she is coordinating a strike force in CD-23 to help Will Hurd defeat sitting Democrat Pete Gallego.

The Treasurer’s report was up next with SREC Treasurer, Tom Mechler, and Assistant Treasurer, Tom Washington, reporting. Mechler began his report by giving the SREC a general overview of what the treasurer does for the SREC and the RPT. Tom Washington then gave a more detailed report on the financial status of the party. Tom Mechler ended his report by auctioning off two themed Christmas tree ornaments including one University of Texas ornament and one Texas A&M ornament.

State Senator Glenn Hegar, our nominee for Texas Comptroller, then spoke briefly about his campaign and why Democrats need to forget about turning Texas blue because our Republican grassroots activists and our great economy will send a strong message to Democrats in November.

General Counsel, Patrick O’Daniel, finished out the officer reports when he spoke about the legal status of the RPT. He mentioned that we are in a holding pattern regarding the three judge panel in charge of redistricting that will most likely be sent to the Supreme Court before too long. Assistant General Counsel and former SREC member, Eric Opiela, then spoke briefly about a few other issues facing the Texas GOP, including the use of photo ID in our elections. It is his belief that we will be successful in keeping photo as a law in Texas.

Next on the agenda was an election to fill the seat for SD-11 Committeeman. Daniel McCool was elected to serve in this position at the state convention in June but tragically passed away shortly after the convention. Two candidates were nominated for the position, JT Edwards and Gary Shrum. JT Edwards won the election and immediately took his seat to finish the SREC meeting as a member of the body.

Consideration of an amendment to the standing rule regarding the recording of SREC meetings was next on the agenda. The amendment was presented by SREC member David Halvorson, however, a motion was put forth to send the amendment to the rules committee. That motion passed so there was no vote at this meeting for the amendment but instead will be discussed more in the rules committee to possibly be voted on again at the next SREC meeting.

Following the vote on the standing rule was an Auxiliary Report by Richard Morgan, Chairman of the College Republicans of Texas. He spoke about the recent growth in the organization and how they have grown on social media which gets their message in front of thousands of more people. Following Richard’s report the SREC unanimously voted to confirm SREC committee appointments for this term of the SREC. Before breaking for lunch, the SREC also voted unanimously to confirm our newest County Chairmen, including: Micah Charping in Brooks County, Charles Kincade in Carson County, Jared Blankenship in Deaf Smith County, Kathy Alexandravice in Dimmit County, Katherine Williams in Donley County, Joshua Yunker in Duval County, Sean Schaefer in Eastland County, Sharon Golden in Foard County, Gaelan Frazier in Frio County, Trevor Thuett in Garza County, Dorothy Cantor in Hansford County, Wes Smith in Hardeman County, Pat Cowan in Hockley County, Tracy Noles in Hudspeth County, Jerry Brockaw in Irion County, Sarah Perkins in Jim Wells County, Kelsey Winslow in King County, Vance Smith in Live Oak County, Liz McLellan in Parmer County, Todd Beckett in Presidio County, Cindy Weatherby in Reagan County, Lana Carr in Real County, Jeff Steele in Refugio County, Allison Taylor in Terrell County, Karen Barnes in Uvalde County, John Phillip Pippen in Val Verde County, and Kim Davis in Yoakum County.

There was also an unofficial poll held to fill the county chair vacancy in Andrews County where David Walinder and David De La Cruz were both seeking the seat. Since Chairman Munisteri has the power to appoint one of the candidates to the position, he decided to hold a poll of the SREC to get their opinion on who should fill the position. David De La Cruz won the poll and the SREC then voted to confirm him. SREC Member Randall Dunning then blessed the lunch.

Following lunch, Chairman Munisteri introduced the RPT staff to the SREC before committee reports began. Rules Committee, chaired by Jim Wiggins, spoke about the rules that the committee plans to debate over the next few months heading into the next SREC meeting. Next up was the Resolutions Committee, chaired by Mark Ramsey. He spoke briefly about their informal meeting from Friday and how they decided the committee will operate during this term.

Randy Samuelson, Chairman of the Party Organization Committee spoke next about the goals of the committee, including building out a strong library of training material for Republicans and officials around the state. He also mentioned his intention to look into Utah’s primary candidate election process per the new RPT platform. Jane Cansino, Chairman of the Volunteerism Committee, spoke about the informal meeting of the committee and what roles the members of the committee will take during this term of the SREC.

Jane is also the Chairman of the Candidate Resource Committee. She reported on the amount of money the CRC has donated to local GOP candidates around the state and the help they have given to two state house races. She also took a moment to thank Senator Jane Nelson, Senator Kelly Hancock, Representative Todd Hunter, Dallas County Chairman Wade Emmert, and the Nueces County Republican Party for their generous donations to the CRC. Candy Noble, Chairman of the Grassroots Club Committee, spoke next. She talked about the status of the Grassroots Club and the benefits of being a member. The final committee to report for the day was the Auxiliaries and Coalitions Committee, chaired by Tina Gibson. She gave a brief report on the goals of the committee in expanding all auxiliaries and clubs such as the high school and college Republicans.

The next order of business was the election of the Officials Committee members. Five spots on the committee were up for election and after nominations were taken from the floor there were seven candidates for the positions. After just one ballot, the five positions had been filled resulting in Jim Wiggins, Bonnie Lugo, Montie Watkins, Candy Noble, and Davida Stike becoming the newest members of the Officials Committee. Jean McIver and Becky Berger had been appointed to the committee before the SREC meeting by Chairman Munisteri.

Next in the agenda was consideration for a resolution regarding the Travis County Public Integrity Unit. The resolution urges the 84th Legislature to transfer the PIU’s powers and funding to an impartial and accountable statewide entity. The resolution was passed by the SREC by a unanimous vote. RPT Executive Director, Beth Cubriel, then gave a detailed update on the party’s Victory program. She spoke about the various races around the state that the party is invested in this year, races which have previously been held by Democrats but are now considered races Republicans can win. She also mentioned the hundreds of thousands of phone calls and doors knocked on by our field staffers in offices around the state and the thousands of volunteers that are helping us reach our high goals.

One of the final orders of business was to award keypins to the SREC members that passed the CRC fundraising goal of $1,000 in the last quarter. The SREC members that were awarded keypins this quarter were Vicki Slaton, David Hale, Chris McDonald, Shelly Pritchard, Steve Atwell, Jean McIver, David Halvorson, Randall Dunning, Virginia Prodan, Angie Flores, Sam Dalton, Janet Jackson, Ralph Patterson, Jonathan Boos, Marian Phillips, Jeff Judson, Jane Cansino, Rhonda Lacy, Mark Ramsey, Vergel Cruz, and Deon Starnes.

Following the announcement of keypin awards, a resolution was unanimously passed honoring longtime Republican Hispanic activist, Lionel Sosa, for his outstanding service and involvement with the Republican Party, with specific thanks for his efforts to connect our message with the Hispanic community. SREC member Bonnie Lugo also put forward a resolution in Support of Israel to Defend Herself which also unanimously passed the body.

The next meeting of the SREC will be the fourth and final quarterly meeting of the year held on December 6, 2014.

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