December Chairman’s Republican Party of Texas Update
December was all about planning for the future. The staff and Officials Committee worked hard having a series of meetings preparing an operating budget for 2015 while concurrently drafting a separate Victory budget and plan. In the past, Victory Committee operations only occurred prior to elections and shut down after the cycle. It has been one of my goals since being elected Chairman to have year-round Victory operations, and working closely with the Officials Committee, SREC, and RNC leadership, we were able to develop a plan which will allow for Victory operations to continue into 2015. These plans received a huge boost as a result of our 2014 Victory Chairman, Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick, leaving approximately a quarter million dollars in cash and outstanding pledges in the Victory account. These efforts culminated in an announcement in mid-December of our reorganized plans. Click here to read that announcement.
The Victory operations for 2015 will focus heavily on our engagement efforts in the Hispanic-American, Asian-American, and African-American communities, which proved successful during the last cycle. In addition, staff will continue to maintain our databases and expand our list of identified Republicans in preparation for 2016.
The operating budget for 2015 will allow us to maintain our current staff in Austin and still leave an estimated $700,000-$800,000 cash balance at the end of next year if the anticipated fundraising goals are met.
In addition to the financial and Victory planning, I spent time in December on ensuring a smooth transition to a new State Chairman, as I have previously announced that I will resign sometime during the first six months of 2015. In order to ensure the smoothest transition possible, all announced candidates were invited to participate in the budget process and speak in front of the SREC at the quarterly December meeting. Moreover, in order to prevent a gap between my Chairmanship and the election of a new Chairman, I proposed an amendment at the SREC meeting to allow a new Chairman to take office immediately upon my resignation, provided a 30 day, irrevocable, notice of time and date of the resignation has been provided to the SREC.
The SREC approved this bylaw change. Moreover, I took a poll of SREC members as to whether to have a special meeting to elect the new Chairman or if they wish for me to time my resignation to coincide with the 1st or 2nd quarterly meeting of the SREC. A majority expressed their preference that the election take place at a regularly scheduled quarterly meeting. Consequently, it is now my intention to time my resignation so that an election will take place at either the first quarterly meeting scheduled for the first Saturday of March, or the second meeting currently scheduled to take place in June.
In order for me to give proper notice, I will have to make decision prior to February 5th as to the date on which the vote will take place. I anticipate making my decision in late January at which time I will promptly notify the SREC and party activists. I also polled the SREC to see if they wish to have a candidate forum sponsored by the RPT prior to voting and a majority indicated they did. Consequently, I discussed the forum format with our Officials Committee during the last week of December. The tentative forum format will entail the RPT hosting a one hour meet and greet which will allow SREC members, County Chairs, and elected officials to visit one on one with each of the candidates. This will be followed by a buffet style dinner service for approximately half an hour after which the formal forum will begin. The forum will be an hour and half long. Each candidate will be given six minutes to divide between an opening and closing statement. Opening statement speaking order will be determined by a draw.
Closing statement speaking order will be in reverse order. In between the opening and closing statements, questions from SREC and County Chairs will be randomly drawn and answered by each candidate. Each candidate will get one minute to respond. The order of responses will be rotated. General Counsel Patrick O'Daniel has been chosen as the moderator. The forum will be held the Friday evening before the vote in Austin, probably at a hotel. The format is tentative for the reason that the Officials Committee also voted to solicit feedback from each candidate as to any objections or suggestions. We anticipate a finalized format to be released by the end of January.
RNC Committeeman Dr. Robin Armstrong, RNC Committeewoman Toni Anne Dashiell, and I also considered the future of the RNC as we issued a joint endorsement for the re-election of current Chairman, Reince Priebus, as elections are scheduled for new RNC officers in mid-January in San Diego, California. Click here to read the full endorsement. Currently, Chairman Priebus is unopposed for the Chairmanship. There is a contest for RNC Co-Chair between current Co-Chairwoman Sharon Day and current RNC Secretary, Demetra DeMonte. The incumbent Treasurer, Tony Parker, is currently unopposed for his re-election. There is also a contest for a new Secretary between Jill Homan and Susie Hudson. Details about the results of the RNC elections will be announced following the elections.
Part of preparing for 2015 was conducting our last quarterly meeting of the SREC, which included the aforementioned budget discussions. That meeting occurred on December 5th in Austin. Click here to read a full recap.
The week following the SREC meeting, RPT Executive Director Beth Cubriel and I spent most of the week in Washington DC. Our first stop was at the RNC. While I was meeting with Chairman Priebus regarding our proposed Victory 2015 plan, Beth met with RNC Political Director Chris McNulty for the same discussion. Following our trip to the RNC, I made a presentation to the Republican members of the Texas Congressional delegation updating them on the current status of the party as well as 2014 election results while Beth made the same presentation to their Chiefs of Staff. I also briefed them on our current Victory plans for 2015. Congressman Sessions and his staff were great hosts who assisted with scheduling our meetings and helping with some of our travel logistics. While in Washington I had an opportunity to meet with several Senators, including our own Texas Senator and newly elected Majority Whip, John Cornyn.
I also had an opportunity to meet with former RPT Finance Chairman, Rob Mosbacher Jr. He held a very successful fundraiser for the party right after I was elected to help with erasing the party’s debt and he still maintains an interest in Republican politics today.
During that week we also had our biannual meeting with the Texas Democrat Party to see if we could agree on changes to the election code. We did find some areas of agreement so I am optimistic that some improvements can be made during the upcoming legislative session. Last session we had surprising cooperation from the TDP on passing legislation substantially deregulating the government’s control of private political parties.
The following week was the last the office was open prior to our traditional RPT Christmas holiday break. During that week I had a chance to oversee the elections of the new officers for the Young Republican Club of Travis County. SREC member Mike Goldman helped arrange the event.
The staff and I also had a chance to sit down with Travis County GOP Chairman, James Dickey, and Vice-Chair Matt Mackowiak to discuss ways to improve our results in Travis County. Later that day, the staff and I met with Bexar County GOP Chairman, Robert Stovall, and longtime GOP activist Jim Lunz to review our mutual goals for a continued Victory program in San Antonio and Congressional District 23. At the end of the week we had our annual Christmas luncheon, which was generously sponsored by SREC Sergeant at Arms, Nelda Eppes. In addition to the very thoughtful gesture of sponsoring our annual luncheon, Nelda also donated another $1,000 to the party this month which she has done at the end of the year, every year since I have been Chairman. I would also like to thank the RPT staff that got shirts made for me for my birthday and presented me with a picture of Ronald Reagan wearing one of the shirts as a birthday gift to me.
The staff was sent off for Christmas week but we were back at work the last week of December closing out the books for 2014 so that we can begin the New Year on great footing. We closed out 2014 the same way we closed out 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 – by paying all our debt to $0. We also maintained close to $1 million in all our accounts, which puts us in strong financial shape going into 2015.
As a party, we had a lot to celebrate over the holidays. We had another record election year, we maintained control of the state government, we took over the U.S. Senate, and our Texas party is strong both financially and organizationally. Now as we ring in the New Year, it’s time to move on to 2015 which will have two major objectives; passing conservative legislation in the Texas legislature, and laying the groundwork for retaking the White House in 2016. Thus, we have much to do on our New Year’s resolution list. I hope all of you will have a happy New Year and I look forward to all of us together having a very prosperous and worthwhile 2015.