July Republican Party of Texas Chairman’s Update
Knocking on doors, calling, mailings, etc. were the order of business in July as our Victory operations kicked into high gear, working alongside the Abbott for Governor team as well as numerous other candidates. Field staff organized volunteers around the state to contact respective voters every day since the state convention last month. Under my chairmanship the RPT has made millions of phone calls to voters and mailed millions of pieces of mail. Most of this was done during the last two months of prior campaign seasons. While we still plan similar efforts down the home stretch this election cycle, we began making hundreds of thousands of contacts much earlier this year through door to door surveys and phone calls to swing voters who we hope to persuade to vote Republican, ID, and then turn out in November.
Currently, the RPT has Victory staff in eight different offices around the state. In addition, our statewide candidates, especially General Abbott, have infrastructure and staff in virtually every community around the state. This is one of the reasons I believe our ticket continues to maintain a lead over the Democrats. The response to our call for volunteers has been overwhelming and we have received a very positive response to our ticket out in the field. In addition to our daily calling and block walking we also schedule a monthly Super Saturday block walk to attract new volunteers to our team. July was no exception as we scheduled a July 19 Super Saturday. On that day alone hundreds of volunteers in 51 counties fanned out across the state. In the Houston area alone, block walkers departed from seven different locations. I stopped by to visit the block walkers in the Houston Heights area which is traditionally very Democratic. There were 34 volunteers there,and they spent hours knocking on doors. On that day alone, tens of thousands of voters were contacted.
At the end of July there were only 95 days until Election Day. The first ballots by mail can be asked for on September 5, so theoretically the first votes will be cast in a little over a month and early voting begins in just a little over two months. We are truly coming down the final stretch. We expect to increase our Victory efforts as our Victory Chairman Christi Craddick ramps up her fundraising, which will provide the resources for our early vote by mail program and increased operations in the field. Commissioner Craddick is working very hard on fundraising for Victory, and she has even stopped by RPT headquarters multiple times during July after work to make calls. She has already scheduled multiple Victory fundraisers in the months of August and September, so stay tuned for more information about events in your area.
In addition to getting prepared for the elections, I had time to travel to various events around the state in July. During the second week of the month I traveled to Plano to call to order a meeting of county chairs whose counties are represented as part of the district of Dallas Court of Appeals Justice Jim Moseley, who announced his retirement in early June. Dallas County Chairman Wade Emmert was elected to oversee the Executive Committee that was tasked with picking the new candidate. I stayed for the whole meeting and observed the outstanding job that Wade and his committee did, including the fair process they followed to pick a replacement candidate.
Also that week, I had a chance to meet with the Abbott Campaign team to obtain a status report on the campaign. I believe General Abbott has put together an exceptional campaign team and as fine a statewide campaign as I have ever observed. He has Dave Carney as his consultant. Dave is a very experienced national political operative who has handled Governor Perry’s races in the past. Their Campaign Manager, Wayne Hamilton, is a very experienced professional who ran the state party as the Executive Director for seven years and has worked on numerous campaigns. Deputy Campaign Manager for Political, Sarah Floerke, and numerous other staffers continue to work closely with our staff on day to day matters and organizing our Super Saturday block walks.
The next day I had an opportunity to meet with a delegation from El Paso headed up by County Chairman Tom Holmsley. Tom brought with him several members of the Hispanic community from his area who offered advice as to how we can better communicate with Hispanic voters. I went to Houston at the end of the week and attended the first meeting of the Harris County Executive Committee under newly elected Chairman, Paul Simpson, held on Saturday July 12. Paul outlined his ambitious program for strengthening the Harris County party. The RPT has had wonderful cooperation from Paul in working together to support the ground game and block walking events in the Harris County area.
The following week I set up a series of meetings with different staff members and department heads to establish a set of goals and expectations which I hope to achieve during my remaining days as Chairman. This included meeting with and reviewing our progress with the RPT engagement staff. Most importantly we set a course for the future, and we have been receiving excellent feedback from the field for these efforts.
I concluded the week by stopping by one of the seven locations in the Houston area that we walked during the July 19 block walk. I stopped by the Heights area block walk to meet up with the 34 volunteers that came out for a few hours that day. Roseanne Rodriguez, one of our RPT staffers, along with Abbott campaign staff were also there to coordinate. Also present were State Representative candidate Chris Carmona and State Senate candidate Ron Hale. I started off the next week in Houston by speaking to Mav PAC. Mav PAC is a national organization that was started by George P. Bush to encourage young professionals to become active in the party and to donate to the Republican cause. Jay Zeidman, son of longtime GOP activist and donor, Fred Zeidman, introduced me. It was reassuring to see so many young, successful professionals attend. They are the future of the party.
At the end of the month we said goodbye to our summer interns who did a fabulous job for us. The two leaving in July were Mary Mullins and Kristina Murphy. The internship program is working very well and we have been fortunate to have numerous fantastic interns this summer that were a great help. We are currently in the process of reviewing applications for our fall internship program and expect to have another great group of young activists joining us at the party.
On the financial front, the final numbers from the convention indicate that the convention ended in the black. Almost all the sponsorships are in and, once all of them have been collected, we anticipate the convention will have netted in excess of $70,000, if you do not include the cost of the youth and Grassroots Club events, which were already figured into our annual budget as their own programs. If you include these as a convention cost we netted a little over $50,000. One of our objectives when holding the convention is to have the convention pay for itself as there have been several state conventions in the past that lost a lot of money for the party. We were fortunate enough to net $162,000 last convention, but we did not expect to earn that this year because there is normally lower turnout in non-presidential years and for the reason that convention costs go up every year. All in all, while you always hope to make more money, I am satisfied where we ended up.
The convention profit was a small boost to our finances this summer; however, telemarketing and direct mail fundraising always falls off over the summer months so as expected our cash balances have fallen a few hundred thousand dollars over the course of the year. Nevertheless, we ended July with over $1 million in all our accounts after all of our liabilities were paid to $0. The key challenge now is to maintain a healthy cash balance in our operating account during a time when the primary fundraising for the party is for funds specifically directed to the Victory program. Because we are directing most of our big donors to contribute to the Victory program, I expect our cash balances to fall by several thousand dollars over the course of the remainder of the year. The amount we have to spend on the elections will largely be determined by how much the committee can raise.
As of the last day of July, we are 95 days away from Election Day. The election is even closer considering early ballots can be asked for on September 5 and that most people will have already voted by the end of early voting in October. Anyone who’s ever run a race knows it is not just important to start strong but you have to finish strong as well. Collectively, our Republican campaigns up and down the ticket have run a good race so far. But none of this matters if we do not finish strong. This is my last election season as State Chairman, so I certainly want to finish strong, and more importantly, Texas needs us to finish strong.
Let’s all finish strong together with a final kick that will leave no doubt that Texas is still a Republican state!