The Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Convention process occurs every two years, and is how the Republican grassroots determine the RPT Platform and priorities for each bi-annual Texas legislative session.
Two things happen at each stage, but the process is different at each level:
- Resolutions for the Party Platform are debated and voted on
- Delegates and Alternates to the next level convention are selected (except at the fourth stage, since there’s nothing higher)
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to go to all four stages, and I’ll break down the entire process below, step-by-step. These are generally applicable, but may vary county-to-county within the state, so if you’re reading this, but not in Collin County, be sure to confirm with your county party first.
- Precinct Conventions
The Precinct Conventions is where it all starts. This is the “grassiest” and “rootiest” level of party grassroots engagement.
Collin County Republican Precinct Conventions
Every precinct in the county will gather at the same location and be separated by precinct. Again, each county may hold their Precinct Conventions at different times/locations, so check with your county party if you’re outside Collin County.
To be a delegate at your Precinct Convention, all you need to do is show up. As is the case at each level, two things happen here:
- Resolutions: you may bring resolutions to be considered for the Party Platform. The delegates at the Precinct Convention will discuss and vote on each resolution to determine whether it will move to the next level, the SD/County Convention
- Delegate/Alternate Selection: those who wish to be a delegate to the SD/County Convention may apply at your Precinct Convention, or have someone apply on your behalf. You can also apply here to be a delegate to the State Convention, or may with the Nominations Committee. Delegates/Alternates will be selected prior to the SD/County Conventions, so if you want to go to the State Convention, make sure your name is on the list in advance
- Senate District Conventions
All SD/County Conventions across the state will be held on the same day – Saturday, March 21.
Whether you have an SD Convention or a County Convention depends on where you live. Counties which are entirely in one SD will have a County Convention (these tend to be more rural). Counties which are split by two or more SDs will have SD Conventions.
The same two things happen at this level, but as I noted previously, it works a bit differently, and has a more involved process. Rather than being broken up by precinct, all delegates will debate and vote on resolutions as a body.
- Resolutions: Before the SD/County Conventions, resolutions passed at the Precinct Conventions will go through a Resolutions Committee prior to the SD/County Convention. The committee will consolidate similar resolutions and vet them further, ultimately voting on which ones will be presented on the floor of the SD/County Convention. To be on this committee, you must apply in advance with the county party.
- Delegate/Alternate Selection: This is where Delegate/Alternate selections to the next level, the State Convention, will be announced, meaning that you must have applied as a Delegate/Alternate to the State Convention before your SD/County Convention.
- Republican Party of Texas Convention
Committees: May 11-13
Convention: May 14-16
George R. Brown Convention Center
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and the RPT Convention is no exception, with several thousand Republicans from around Texas gathered together under one ginormous, well-armed roof.
Once again, the same two things work a bit differently here:
- Resolutions: just as resolutions submitted at the Precinct Conventions had to be consolidated and vetted before moving to the SD/County Conventions, so to do those resolutions in turn need to be consolidated and advanced by the State Convention Platform Committee before coming to the floor of the State Convention. To be on this committee, you must apply in advance at the state level. Mark Dorazio was recently named Chairman of this committee for the 2020 State Convention.
- Delegate/Alternate Selection: Delegates and Alternates to the National Convention are pledged to a particular candidate, based on their showing in the Primary Election. If you wish to attend the National Convention as a Delegate or Alternate, this is the place to do it, and there are two ways:
- Apply as a delegate or alternate for consideration by the National Nominations Committee. This must be done online prior to the State Convention
- Run for Delegate/Alternate in your Congressional District Caucus (this was how I was elected as an Alternate for Trump in 2016). In the 3rd Congressional District, we had 3 Delegate seats, and a corresponding 3 Alternate seats. Candidates may give a short speech on why they are running, then all the Delegates present in the Congressional District Caucus meeting at the State Convention vote for each seat. Many candidates come prepared with campaign material and everything.
- Republican National Convention
Convention: August 24-27
This is the big leagues, where the Republican Candidate for President of the United States is selected, and where the Platform of the Republican National Committee is adopted. This is a four-day event, and you will be active all day, and well into most nights.
Note: if you plan to go to the RNC, be prepared to cover the cost of the trip, including airfare, hotel, any ground transportation, captive-audience-priced food, and incidentals. The Texas Delegation will reserve a block of hotel rooms, and you will have to pay for your room. The rates are good for the hotel selected, but it’s usually a fairly swanky hotel, and priced accordingly. Alternately, you can choose to stay at your own location. In 2016 I elected to stay with a friend who lives in Cleveland, who was also my guest to the Convention.
Delegates and Alternates are paired together for specific seats (e.g. Congressional District 3, Place 3). Customarily, Delegates will swap credentials with their Alternates to give them a little time on Convention floor when no critical votes are taking place.
This event garners significant news coverage, and if you don’t have a camera shoved in your face at least once, then you’re doing something wrong. I was filmed eating a turkey sandwich, of all things.
It’s the experience of a lifetime, and is where all the prior months of grassroots activity across the nation culminates, but if you don’t get in on the ground floor, then you’ll miss the boat entirely. So whether you want to go to the Republican National Convention, want to add/remove, or defend a plank in the Party Platform, or just want to make your voice heard at the local level, I encourage everyone to attend your Precinct Conventions.
Meet Shelby Williams
Shelby Williams was elected to Plano City Council in 2019, and has served as Republican Precinct Chair, as well as serving as an Alternate Delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2016, and is also the Texas State Director for Convention of States. He is committed to promoting conservative principles, both as an activist and as an elected official. He and his wife moved to Collin County in 2003 to start a family, and he holds an MBA and enjoys a successful career in business technology.
A version of the blog post originally appeared on Shelby William’s blog.