This post originally appeared on Candy Noble’s personal blog.
The Presidential Primary will be coming to Texas in just 167 days (God willing and the creek doesn’t rise…more on that later). The State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) met this past weekend and much of our pressing work concerns the Primary Election and the Conventions that follow it. We also had a little fun celebrating some amazing volunteers from around the state.
Friday was a long day of Committee meetings but finished with a reception at the Governor’s Mansion, then the Volunteer of the Year Dinner. Congratulations to Bonnie Wells, who won the “Volunteer of the Year Award” for Senate District 8. Bonnie has worked tirelessly in Dallas County for years, and it was nice that she was honored for all her accomplishments by the Republican Party. Thanks Bonnie!
Chairman Tom Mechler has found that the running of the Republican Party of Texas is more full-time than he anticipated, and he has put in a more than full-time effort. In his 129 days in office he has had 54 Speaking engagements and 176 meetings in addition to all the Party day-to-day business.
In June, without warning, Strategic, the fundraising company that the Republican Party of Texas has used successfully for at least 10 years, went bankrupt. This left us scrambling to replace this source of income (mail and phone solicitations), and left us short of those expected funds for two months. The good news is that our major donor contributions are up, and our expenses are down. We continue to have all our bills paid to a zero balance each month, and a new fundraising company has been working for us for the last two weeks with good results. Our current balance of cash on hand is $660,000—lower than we would like, but that just gives us all the opportunity to help out.
Of course, if you don’t want to get any solicitation phone calls or mail, you only need to join the Grassroots Club. For $8.25 a month ($99 a year) you not only get none of those calls or mail, you also get some amazing member-only perks. A Grassroots Club exclusive phone call is coming up soon with one of the Presidential candidates, and we hope to have other candidate calls very soon. Also, for those going to the State Convention, Grassroots Club members get to register ahead of everyone else. I have a list of Senate District 8 folks who have had their membership expire. If you are not sure about your membership, email me and I’ll check for you. Join today at Grassroots!
Saturday we heard from a lot of Elected Officials and Candidates. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick gave us a Legislative Update from the Texas Senate and State Representative Tony Dale (from the Cedar Park area) gave us a Texas House update. Collin County’s own Judge Ray Wheless, who is a candidate for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 2 and Judge Sid Harley, Candidate for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 5 provided breakfast for us and also spoke about their races. Being Primary season we also had speeches throughout the day from the following: Judge Michael Keasler, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 6, Judge Mary Lou Keel, candidate for Court of Criminal Appeals Place 2, Judge Will Wilson, Candidate for Court of Criminal Appeals Place 2, Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission David Porter, Judge Michael Massengale, candidate for Texas Supreme Court Place 3, and finally, and afternoon snack and speech by Texas Supreme Court (Place 3) Justice Debra Lehrmann. Whew. Then we got down to the hard business.
Several of you expressed concern to me that the SREC not go into Executive Session to discuss some difficult issues. We have not had a single Executive Session while I have served on the SREC, and I’m glad to tell you that we did not have one at this meeting either. Balancing what needs to be said with what should be said publicly as a Party is difficult. We can always use your prayers lifted up on our behalf, as the Press is not always kind to us, and we don’t want to give them more reason to vilify us through our words or work. I understand that the livestreaming audio was a problem at times. With the new location for our meetings there are technical issues to iron out.
Since the last meeting of the full SREC we lost a member. Rosemary Roe from SD 4 passed away following a very short illness, and she will be greatly missed. We had two great candidates for the SREC SD4 spot: Allison Winters and Melinda Fredricks. The SREC voted for Melinda to fill the spot until Senate District 4 can elect their own replacement at the next Texas GOP Convention.
Remember two years ago when Federal Judges repeatedly delayed up our Primary while they messed around with our Redistricting map? I hate to tell you this, but those same Judges have not fixed what the Upper Court told them to fix in all the time that has passed since then. According to Patrick O’Daniel, our RPT Legal Counsel, every day that this decision is not updated we have a greater chance of them messing up our Primary yet again. Not good at all. Almost makes me take up cussing.
Another case that we are following is the Voter ID challenge. The 5th Court of Appeals kicked that case back to a Corpus Christi Court. Right now it looks like the current Voter ID law will be used for the Texas Constitutional Amendment election coming up on November 3. (By the way, the last day to Register to vote in that election is October 5).
National Committeewoman Toni Anne Dashiell talked about the upcoming debates. I didn’t know that only a Non-profit or a Media Outlet may host a debate. The Networks work within the RNC rules to be allowed to host a debate, but the network themselves come up with the guidelines for who is on the stage, not the RNC. I think both our National Committeeman Robin Armstrong and Toni Anne are tired of folks yelling at them for the decisions the Networks have made.
There are several new key folks working for the RPT. We have a new Executive Director, Kyle Watley and a new Fundraising Director, Kelly Glaser. I’m amazed at the quality of people that pour their lives into our State Party. The National Party continues to pay for the staff for our Victory Centers around the state where on-going Voter Registration, Outreach and Voter Walks are setting the stage for the Presidential race in Texas. We also have a newly updated GOP Data Center, which is an extensive voter database.
We also heard from Jessica Vu, President of the Texas Asian Republican Club in Houston. She recommended that when reaching out to the quickly growing Asian voter population we talk about “The American Dream”, “economic opportunity” and “economic freedom.” She asked that we show up for the Asian events, festivals and parties. Generally Asian Americans (no matter their country of origin) enjoy social media and many would be proud to be able to tag elected officials at their events. Sounds like fun!
We confirmed the appointments of 8 new County Chairs. We also formed a Ballot Integrity Committee comprised of people from around the state. We passed three housekeeping Resolutions and one Rule that help us conform to the new Election laws including one concerning Candidates filing for the office of President, another concerning canvassing the election, and another concerning canvassing the run-off. We also passed a Resolution against the Iran Nuclear Deal. Two more Resolutions honored Republicans: one in honor of the life of Rosemary Roe, and another State Representative Bill Zedler for his heroic lifesaving efforts on behalf of a Tarrant County Precinct Chair that suffered a stroke while on the phone with Representative Zedler.
We spent a great deal of time on a Resolution that calls on the Texas House and Senate to hold hearings in preparation for a possible Special Session to protect the Texas Marriage Amendment and Religious Liberties. The debate on this was spirited.
Another vigorous debate concerned the Texas GOP Convention Booth rental policy. The short story version is that we will continue under the previously adopted “Best practices policy”, with the following change: under the former policy anyone having a booth was asked to agree to the full Platform. I must mention that even the Platform disagrees with itself in places. The new policy asks that those wishing to rent a booth agree with the 11 core principles listed at the beginning of the Platform. You can see that list here (page 3): Texas Republican Party Platform
Speaking of the Platform, we heard from the Platform Process Review Committee. I can not stress enough that they are looking at the Platform PROCESS alone, not the content. The content, as always, will be up to the full convention in May. Some of you participated in the survey they conducted which included 2408 respondents. The Recommendations they presented include a proposed supplemental Rule Change for the inclusion of Five Legislative Priorities to be voted on by the full Convention. Another recommendation that was proposed was a Plank by Plank review of the Platform by the full Convention. (Oh Lord, we’ll never get out of there!). One recommendation I really like is that the Proposed Platform be posted online for review of the Delegates as soon as possible, not waiting for the printed version to be handed out at the Convention. An addition to this recommendation included asking the Platform Committee to begin their meetings on the Saturday prior to the Convention and finish by Tuesday of the Convention week. Another proposed change would be to increase the number of sub-committees on the Platform Committee to 10 and include Preamble and Legislative Priority sub-committees. Finally, they recommend that all the Senate District Resolution Committees look at all the current Platform planks, not just the newly requested planks to try to condense the size and details of the current 40 page 2014 Platform.
The Texas GOP sent out a fundraising email signed by Jeb Bush, and it raised a few eyebrows. What wasn’t communicated prior to that email was that several other of the Presidential hopefuls had agreed to do fundraising email pleas on behalf of the Republican Party of Texas as well. I wish that the email had said that in a disclaimer. The SREC passed a resolution authorizing the Chairman to solicit the support and involvement of Elected Officials and Candidates for their fundraising assistance for the Texas GOP. I understand that a disclaimer will be included in the future, so the appearance of picking one Primary winner over another can be avoided.
I know this is a long report. Believe me when I say I’ve given you the Readers Digest Condensed form of what we covered. These meetings leave me tired, but happy to do the work you elected me to do on your behalf.
Now on to victory in 2016!