January 2015 Republican Party of Texas Chairman’s Update
Of particular significance to the Texas delegation was a resolution that we sponsored asking that the Committee on Convention Arrangements ensure that there is a live microphone in each delegation during the 2016 convention.
Republican Party of Texas - The start of a new year is time for planning. This was the case with the RNC as it held its first meeting of the year in San Diego. National Committeeman Dr. Robin Armstrong, National Committeewoman Toni Anne Dashiell, and I all attended the multi-day meeting at which the future of the party was discussed.
Of particular significance to the Texas delegation was a resolution that we sponsored asking that the Committee on Convention Arrangements ensure that there is a live microphone in each delegation during the 2016 convention so that points of order can be raised. In 2012, numerous Texas delegates requested that I allow them the opportunity to use the microphone in our delegation for the purpose of raising a point of order regarding the rules adoption vote. Unfortunately the microphones were not live, which resulted in several delegates shouting "Point of Order" during the subsequent keynote speech because they had no alternative way of getting recognized.
Obviously this was not a satisfactory situation for anybody. Consequently, at the request of some of our grassroots activists, including SREC member Jeremy Blosser, I negotiated a resolution with the support of Chairman Priebus to request that the Committee on Arrangements provide a mechanism at the next convention to notify the Chair of a potential point of order. This resolution passed. We also included wording in the resolution that calls for all the votes cast for candidates be read back. This resolution passed as well. However, we didn’t get the wording exactly the way we wanted so it is my hope that the Texas delegation will follow up on this at future meetings.
The main news out of the RNC meeting was that the RNC Debate Committee has decided on 9 debates prior to March 1st to be sponsored by the RNC with a possibility for two more if necessary. Click here to view the new debate schedule.
The significance of the Debate Committee’s actions is that it wrests control of the debates from the media back under the auspices of the RNC. Last cycle, without any RNC involvement, there were 23 primary debates with moderators that were not approved by the RNC. Many Republicans felt that so many debates, which sometimes utilized Democrat moderators, ultimately had a negative impact on our ticket’s chances in the fall.
During the business portion of the meeting an election was held for the RNC officers. Chairman Priebus was reelected with only two dissenting votes. Treasurer Toni Parker was reelected unanimously. Incumbent Co-Chair Sharon Day defeated Demetra DeMonte to retain her position. Finally, Susan Hudson defeated Jill Homan for the Secretary position.
We also heard from potential presidential candidates Doctor Ben Carson, Governor Scott Walker, Governor Rick Perry, and Governor Mitt Romney. At the time of Romney’s speech, it appeared as though he was leaning towards running, but he announced on January 30 that he had decided not to run.
Several other Texans made the rounds at the RNC as well. SREC members Rhonda Lacy and Jeremy Blosser, along with RPT Treasurer Tom Mechler, all attended the meetings. Former SREC member Bill Eastland and Amy Hedtke attended as well.
January was also a time for planning for the RPT as field office staff met in Austin for a strategy and planning session. RPT Hispanic Engagement Director, David Zapata, kicked off the meeting discussing community engagement. This subject area encompassed minority community engagement, Republican organizations, and civic minded groups. David then gave a separate overview of Hispanic engagement strategies with RPT Asian American Engagement Director, Melissa Fwu discussing ways to become more involved in the Asian American community. RPT Political Director John McCord gave a recap of the Abbott/RPT voter registration efforts in 2014 and outlined our registration plans for 2015. McCord also spent a good portion of the day discussing strategies for building a party infrastructure in communities around the state. Subject matters ranged from building in areas where no infrastructure currently exists to enhancing areas where a solid infrastructure is already in place. We then discussed targeted areas and where our time and resources should be dedicated in 2015. The meeting concluded with me addressing the field staff. I emphasized the importance the field staff play in each election and commented on how proud I was of this particular group of individuals and how confident I am that Texas Republicans were well represented by the RPT field staff in 2014.
The New Year also marked a new beginning for state government as Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton, and Comptroller Glenn Hegar all took office. Click here for a more detailed recap of inaugural events.
The 84th legislature also convened in Austin as Representative Joe Straus was reelected Speaker of the House, defeating challenger Scott Turner. Lt. Governor Patrick took the reins in the State Senate where he was successful in lowering the threshold for the number of votes necessary to vote on a bill to 19. This should ensure that Democrats on their own cannot block legislation.
The RPT also took the opportunity to invite the freshmen legislators to the RPT headquarters to go over legislative priorities, meet the RPT staff, and advise on the services we can offer. We invite all Republican members to use our office for political meetings while in Austin, to take advantage of our voter file software, to help communicate to constituents, and to let us know if we can help promote any of their legislative priorities on Facebook and Twitter. The word from the Capitol is that Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, Comptroller Hegar, and Speaker Straus are all working well together and we are hopeful that our top priority conservative legislation will pass this session, including tax relief, increased border security, education reform, gun rights, and addressing infrastructure.
As busy as the month was with the RNC and inaugural activities, I still had time to speak around the state to various Republican groups. During the first part of January, I spoke to the Houston Downtown Pachyderm Club. I also had the privilege of introducing Governor Abbott at the Fort Bend Republican Party annual dinner. County Chair Mike Gibson, along with his lovely wife and SREC member Tina, did a fabulous job describing their plan for an increased voter turnout and engagement program.
Prior to going to San Diego, I went to New Braunfels to speak to the Bulverde Republican Women’s Club. Upon my return, I had the opportunity to attend a function thanking Governor Abbott’s staffers at Black’s BBQ, followed the next day by my attending Governor Abbott’s thank you reception for volunteers at Sholz Garden where I had the opportunity to introduce the Governor.
Following the inaugural activities, I drove to Arlington to speak to the Arlington Republicans. The last week of January I traveled back to Houston to speak with the Magic Circle Republican Women. It was a fun event as both my mother and one of my brothers were able to attend. Then it was back to Austin where I attended a reception to welcome back our legislators as a guest of Lieutenant Colonel Rich Castle, who is the widower of our late National Committeewoman, Lieutenant Colonel Bora Van Dormolen.
The following day I attended another reception for legislators sponsored by at the American Sniper Veteran Association. Taya Kyle, wife of Chris Kyle, spoke and provided some very emotional context for the film. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house upon its conclusion and I believe it is one of the most powerful stories ever told on screen, and one that reminds us not only of the sacrifices of our brave members of the military but of their families as well. State Senator Paul Bettencourt invited me to be his guest to the event.
I ended out the month by attending the Dallas County Reagan Day Dinner on the last Friday of the month. Dallas County Chair Wade Emmert put together an impressive program with a huge turnout with Senator Rand Paul delivering the keynote speech. I stayed in the DFW area over the weekend to attend the Tarrant County Reagan Dinner as well where Senator Paul was once again the keynote speaker. County Chair Jenn Hall also put on a tremendous event with a very impressive turnout.
On the financial front, we closed out the month with just under $900,000 cash on hand with no liabilities.
At the end of January I also announced that I would be resigning on Saturday, March 7th at 1:00pm at the first quarterly meeting of the SREC. The SREC will pick a new Chairman to fulfill my term which ends the second weekend of May 2016. There are currently four announced candidates for the race, RPT Treasurer Tom Mechler, National Committeeman Dr. Robin Armstrong, Dallas County GOP Chairman Wade Emmert, and former Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill. Because of the bylaw change passed at the last SREC meeting, a resigning State Chair must provide 30-day advanced notice of resignation to the SREC, which will allow for a seamless transition to a new Chairman without the need for the Vice Chair step in. At the instruction of the SREC, the RPT will also be the official sponsor of a candidate forum the night before the meeting, which is open to SREC members and County Chairs to attend.
It is my goal to ensure a smooth transition to the next State Chairman. I plan to work diligently to make sure that our annual fundraiser in February is a success so that I can leave the party with a healthy bank account and no liabilities or debt. I also plan to work hard every day up to the end to ensure that our projects for the year are well underway and that there are no loose ends for our new Chairman.
I will have a lot more to say regarding my time as Chairman prior to March, however, I cannot say enough times and will do so now as well, that it has been a great honor and privilege to serve as your Chairman for almost five years and I look forward to watching the party continue to grow under the leadership of our next Chairman.