Today I will update you on two things: The latest from the SREC meeting in Austin this past weekend and the Electoral College process and news. I apologize in advance for how long this is, but there is a lot to share.
On Friday the SREC met in Committees. As the Chair of the Resolutions Committee we had a full agenda. It was our responsibility to recommend to the full SREC up to three Legislative Priorities. Five Legislative Priorities had already been decided by the full Texas GOP Convention back in May (see those five on the last page of the Platform), and ours were to be in addition to those, as specified in the Party Rules. I must tell you that we had seventeen wonderful priority ideas submitted to the Committee, and it was hard to pick because they were all worthy of our support, and hopefully will all pass the Legislature. The three that were recommended, and were passed, with one minor change before the entire SREC were these:
- Working to advocate for comprehensive school choice in a manner consistent with the RPT Platform.
- We support denial and/or withdrawal of public funds for entities, public and/or private, not in compliance with immigration laws, including sanctuary cities or campuses.
- Protect the citizens of Texas from unlawful encroachments on their First Amendment rights, including Constitutional religious liberty and freedom of speech, and as specified in RPT Platform plank 153.
These were issues that Convention delegates and the Texas Republican Primary voters overwhelmingly supported. The Religious Liberty issue was mentioned in seven different planks, so that one was fairly broad in how it is worded. We’re hopeful that these, and the other issues that didn’t make the cut, will all pass and be signed into law.
The Resolutions Committee also recommended two Resolutions to the full SREC. These were “Protecting Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association” and a resolution calling for the State of Texas to “Secure its Electric Grid.” Both of these Resolutions were passed by the SREC on Saturday.
Friday evening we were treated to a lovely Christmas Party at a historical home in Austin. Our host was Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. He shared some of his priorities and concerns for the upcoming Legislative session and also some fun stories from his time working alongside the Trump campaign.
I’m not going to lie to you. Saturday was a doozy of a meeting, and I’m disappointed to see that there is some misrepresentation of what was done. I’ll fill you in on more of that later in this report, and hopefully those that want to make big splashes by exaggeration (which is way more fun to tell than the truth) will be quieted a bit.
First, though, we had to elect a new SREC Secretary. Rena Peden has served for several years, and has stepped down. Former SREC member, Jim Wiggins was elected (without opposition) to serve.
Ann Marie Birdwell, the Deputy Victory Director for the 2016 election, gave us an update on the Texas Election results. The Texas Victory effort had 14 paid staffers, 25 field offices, and over 3500 amazing volunteers from across the state. $1.5 Million was raised for the effort and it really paid off with 1.8 million phone calls made, 100,000 doors knocked on in the 16 targeted race areas, 2.8 million online voter contacts made, 30 Young Professional Events hosted and 100,000 voter contacts made in Spanish. Also, 2,771,230 ads and videos were seen online through Twitter, Facebook and other online sites and 68% were watched through to the end. The result: 25 Texas Republicans in the US Congress (out of 36), 20 Republicans in the Texas Senate (out of 31), and 95 Republicans in the Texas House (out of 150). Our State Chairman Tom Mechler, Vice Chair Amy Clark, National Committeeman Robin Armstrong and National Committeewoman Toni Anne Dashiell all campaigned in person phone banking and block walking in each of those contested races.
Some fun Texas Republican Facts:
- Republicans have won the last 10 Presidential Elections in Texas
- Texas has 38 Electoral Votes- 7% of the total number of Electoral Votes
- Nearly 80% of the estimated Texas Voting age population registered to vote this year (15.1 million registered voters)
- Approximately 72% of Texans who voted, voted early this year.
- Among Registered voters, 59% cast a ballot in 2016
- Democrats have not won a statewide election in Texas since 1994—and Republicans have won 129 consecutive statewide races.
- Congressman Will Hurd won his closely contested race by 3,700 votes out of 227,000 cast. ( By contrast, in 2012, the Democrat candidate won that seat by 9,129 out of 192,169 votes cast. Nice progress.)
Congratulations to Collin County for having the highest percentage turnout of the 10 largest populated Texas Counties, with 67.61% voter turnout. Out of those same counties, Montgomery County gets the bragging rights for the highest percentage for Donald Trump with 73.02%.
The State Republican Executive Committee passed a 2017 base budget that will fund the party for day to day operations, and an additional “Wish List” budget that will fund additional efforts, as fundraising allows. If you are not a member of the Grassroots Club , please join today. Together we can keep the party strong and financially secure (and enjoy the perk of avoiding those annoying solicitation calls and mail). As the Republican Party of Texas has done the past few years, all bills are paid to a zero balance and cash on hand is more than $800,000. Not bad for just having laid it all on the line to get our candidates elected.
Senator John Cornyn sponsored our lunch on Saturday and also spoke to us. He said that he had dreaded the thought of a Hillary Presidency, but is excited about the future in Washington now. He said that not only do we have to replace a Supreme Court Justice, but also that there are many Federal Judgeships open in Texas and must be filled (I think he said 13, but I’m not positive about that number). Some of the work he anticipates doing is cleaning up the Justice Department, Repealing and Replacing Obamacare, and reforming our broken tax system. Did you know that half of the Democratic Senators that voted for Obamacare are no longer elected to serve in the Senate? This is good news, as the new administration has the opportunity to change things in Washington with some new blood.
We spent a good bit of our day Saturday on a highly debated and difficult topic of the SREC Bylaws and the Rules from the State Convention. Well-meaning and well-informed people were on both sides of this issue, and I’m saddened that anyone is being vilified as a result of their vote and personally considered understanding of this issue.
Here is a very simplified version (believe it or not) of the issue: In the Texas GOP Rule 8c that was passed at our Convention in May, in the paragraph under the heading of “Organizational Meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee” it is stated (just after a sentence about the agenda) that “SREC Bylaws or Rules shall always be amendable by a majority of the entire membership, subject only to adopted notice requirements.”
So, here’s the rub: Does this sentence apply to the Organizational meeting of the SREC, as the heading suggests, or all meetings of the SREC, as the word “always” suggests? I’ll tell you, I wish that it had been clearer. It would have helped if the Rules had either said that this was a direction for the SREC to permanently change the Bylaws at that Organizational Meeting, or that it applied to that one meeting only (as has been our past practice), or had just put it under a different heading (one that applied to all SREC meetings).
As a Convention Delegate who read the Rule changes prior to voting at Convention, I understood (and when I watched again that part of the Convention on video), that the change was a direction for the SREC’s first meeting only. If I had understood that it would apply to all meetings, I would have, as a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians, gone to the microphone to point out how far outside of normal practice this would be for an organization under Robert’s Rules of Order. The standard for changing a Bylaw is, in every organization of which I have been a part, a 2/3 majority requirement. It is not up to the Convention attendees to figure out what those on the Rules Committee have in mind when they make a Rule. It must be clear to the reader of that rule. The decision made by the entire Convention to pass the Rule was based not on the Committee’s intent (we had no way of knowing that, of course), but instead on the actual written words of the Rules document. I have always considered the Convention the parent of the SREC, and that we are tasked to do the Convention’s work and will. In this case, I, as a Convention participant, felt I understood what the Rule’s purpose was and that it applied to that Organizational meeting only. I totally get where those who read it see it differently, and I respect and appreciate their perspective.
After extensive debate and testimony, we had a roll call vote on the issue. The SREC voted straight down the middle to uphold the Chair’s ruling that the Rule applied to the Organizational Meeting of our body, and a 2/3 vote with previous notice is required for other meetings to enact a Bylaw change. In a split vote, the Chair’s ruling stands. It is my hope that the Rules Committee at the 2018 Convention will handle and clarify this question for future SRECs.
I’ve seen some very unfortunate, and frankly unbalanced, reports about this issue. This saddens me, as I understand both sides are well meaning and want what’s best for the Party. At the end of the day, it is my prayer that we would be about the work that really needs to be done and move on to things that really matter: Passing Conservative Legislation, Reigning in Government overreach, Protecting the innocent, having Constitutionally aligned Courts, and electing amazing candidates. I hope that is the reader’s goal too.
Speaking of electing amazing candidates, the Mighty Texas Task Force is still in need of your help. We need folks that can go help out this week in Shreveport and Lake Charles Louisiana with the US Senate race runoff. This race will determine if the US Senate will have 51 or 52 Republican Senators. That election is holding early voting now, with the Election Day on Saturday, December 10.
We did end the day on a good note as we were invited to a reception at the Texas Governor’s mansion hosted by our Governor and Cecilia Abbot. The mansion, decorated for Christmas, was lovely. The first dog, Pancake, wasn’t allowed to come out and visit, because it was so rainy.
I want to wrap up my update with some news about the Electoral College. The Electors, myself included, have been inundated with emails, letters, and in some cases calls, encouraging us to switch our votes. Most have been cordial, if not delusional. However, at lease one fellow Texas Elector has been threatened and now has her mail screened each week by the FBI. Let me be clear: I am resolute. I signed an affidavit -as did we all- at the Convention that I would vote for the Republican Candidate, and I am a girl of my word. I’m looking forward to casting my Electoral College vote on December 19 in the Texas House Chamber for Donald Trump. Doing so will honor the will of the voters of the State of Texas, and I am proud to have this opportunity. State law calls for the Electors who are present on December 19 to vote to replace any fellow Electors that do not show up to vote, since there is no official way to resign that position following the election. It is my understanding that there will be at least one vacancy, and maybe more. It is my intention to replace Electors (hopefully) with a qualified substitute from the missing Congressional District who will also honor the will of the voters and vote for Donald Trump. Please join me in praying for the safety and wisdom of all the Electors across our Nation.
Thank you for reading this way too long email. Thank you for the honor of sharing the news from our Party and for allowing me to serve.
State Republican Executive Committee Senate District 8