Texas Republicans now have a new Chairman. At Saturday’s State Republican Executive Committee meeting James Dickey, former Travis County Republican Chairman, was elected as our new Chair. Two great candidates stepped up to run for Chair following Tom Mechler’s resignation two weeks ago. Both Rick Figueroa and James Dickey ran fast and full campaigns with very little notice. Texas Election Code doesn’t give the Parties much wiggle room on how we fill a vacancy, and the process required is a quick one. The competition was intense. In fact, the final vote was as close as numerically possible: Rick Figueroa had 31 votes, and James Dickey had 32 votes.
I want to thank our out-going Chairman Tom Mechler for his service and efforts on our behalf with the State Party. We didn’t get a chance to honor him at the meeting on Saturday, so I would like to take a moment to do that here: Chairman Mechler worked tirelessly on engagement efforts, fundraising, speaking to Republican and other groups while accomplishing all that is required by law to run both a Primary and a General Election. Few of us will ever know the personal cost in time, treasure and the commitment crucial to running the Republican Party of Texas. We certainly can appreciate those who do the work so that we can have good candidates, an honest election, encourage good legislation, and a sound party financially.
We also had to fill the vacancy created by the unexpected death of Senate District 10’s Committeewoman, Merri Easterly. Merri served with honor and faithfulness on both the SREC and on the Texas Federation of Republican Women’s Board of Directors. The SREC passed a lovely Resolution in her honor, and State Senator Konni Burton provided a Flag to her family that had been flown over the Capitol on the day of her memorial service.
Two ladies were willing to serve SD10 in her place: Jen Hall and Susan Wright. Susan Wright was elected to serve at Saturday’s meeting.
When a new Chair is elected, he has the ability to keep or appoint new Party Officers. Many of us were caught off guard when our new Chairman immediately, upon his election, announced his replacements for all but two of those 11 positions. Later in the afternoon, Chairman Dickey gave a sincere apology for how he handled that and spent some time explaining what had happened. The two Officers that remain are: Thomas Gleason as Finance Chair and Nelda Eppes as Sergeant at Arms. The new appointees include: Larry Hicks, Treasurer, Holly Alt, Parliamentarian and Chris Howe, Assistant Parliamentarian, Chris Gober General Counsel, Trey Trainer as Assistant General Counsel, Jeremy Storey as Chaplain and Wayne Thorburn as Historian. He also asked one of the former appointees to the Officials Committee to resign and appointed Jason Ross to that position. I found the article at this Link to be a good explanation of Saturday’s events if you would like more details.
I wish all our newly appointed Party Officers great success. I also would like to thank the outgoing Officers for their years of hard work and dedicated service to our party—bringing their amazing talents and training and serving us at their own expense. We have no idea the impact they have made and we wish them well. Please join me in praying for our new officers and Chair as they take the reins and direct our State Party.
Chairman Dickey shared this pledge: 1. To return RPT cash balance to at least $1,000,000 by the end of 2017. 2. To strongly support the Texas GOP Platform with members of the Texas Legislature. 3.To offer complete transparency with the SREC including delivering a weekly private email with that week’s work and accomplishments. 4. To expand committees to increase opportunities for participation. 5. To visit every Senate District within the first year.
We had reports from the current (now past) officers. General Counsel Patrick O’Daniel and Associate General Counsel Eric Opiela reported on the good legislation that passed that will be helpful to our Party’s (and any Party’s) work. HB 1735 will simplify County Party finance reports. Also in that bill is a stronger statute that will curb nursing home voter fraud and other needed changes in the Election Code. Treasurer Tom Washington reported that cash on hand was $666,582.50. That is, as usual, after all bills have been paid to zero. The fundraising has been slack since Chairman Mechler announced his resignation, as donors generally want to wait and see who the new leader will be, and that has been the case this quarter. We will be needing to step up and help our Party continue to be strong financially. More about that later (see the Grassroots Club and CRC portions below).
National Committeeman Robin Armstrong reported on his visit to the White House as part of President Trump’s healthcare experts group. He shared that the American Healthcare Act does a lot of needed Medicaid reform. Dr. Armstrong also reported on the three special elections that are going on around the nation and our prospects for the 2018 elections. 50 US House seats are competitive right now and the Democrats are energized, thinking they can take back that House. It is up to us to work and donate to make sure that doesn’t happen. The US Senate is in a better position with fewer Republican seats up for election. There will also be 38 Governor seats on the ballot in November 2018.
Republican National Committeeman Armstrong also shared that he has been busy helping with Black Engagement around Texas, as well as attending to his RNC duties and meetings. We also heard from one of our RPT Auxiliary groups: Reginald Clyde spoke about the work and growth of the MLK Association in the Houston area.
Republican National Committeewoman Toni Ann Dasheil reported that the RNC outraised the Democrats in the first quarter of this year, and many of those donors were new to the Party. As a matter of fact, there was a 398% increase in new donors over previous years.
We spent some time examining a new electonic voting system that may be used for future SREC meeting, speeding up our required Roll Call Vote process.
We have appointed a new committee to bring a recommendation for this new technology to our next meeting. We changed a Rule to allow for up to four more members of the Candidate Resource Committee (CRC), so that more areas of the state could be covered by the makeup of that Committee. This Committee is comprised of both SREC and non-SREC members from around the state that are enthusiastic about raising money and donating those funds to down-ballot local races. This is a very worthy cause. You may click here to donate. Tip: put SD8 when it asks for your Senate District. I’m proud to have donated $1000 a year to the Candidate Resource Committee out of my own pocket for each of the 7 years I have served on the SREC. (By the way, all SREC members have a gentleman’s agreement to raise or donate at least $1000 a year, but not all of us do so.) I’m proud to have exceeded that amount most of the years I’ve served, thanks to the generous donors and elected officials of SD8. Together we keep Texas Red all the way down to the county level.
Speaking of down-ballot races, did you know that the Texas Democratic Party spent a great deal of resources recruiting, funding and endorsing local candidates across the state in “non-partisan” races through their “Project LIFT”? The group “Indivisible” also intervened in local elections around Texas. The SREC passed a Resolution calling for the Republican Party of Texas to support local Republican candidates as well. The Resolution directs the leadership and the staff of the RPT to research opposition initiatives, promptly develop and implement strategies, and commit appropriate resource to assist county Republican Parties and candidates in “non-partisan” races. This is designed to go into effect only when the Democrats have backed a specific candidate against a known Republican candidate (not for when two or more Republicans are in a local race). The Resolution further called for the RPT to challenge any activity that is in violation of Texas Election Law, including local races.
This was the first year for the new Legislative Committee, headed up by Vice Chair Amy Clark. This committee followed closely our Legislative Priorities bills in the Texas Legislature and worked hard on behalf of our Platform. We had three out of our eight priorities enacted in their entirety: Border Security, Sanctuary Cities, and Article V Convention. There were eight bills that passed that related in part or in total to our Priorities. The Legislative Committee drafted a letter encouraging the Governor to include all the remaining Legislative Priorities in any called Special Session of the Legislature and thanked him for signing into law the ones that had already passed. SREC members were invited to sign that letter if they wished.
The Party Organization Committee has been working hard. They have completed the update to the Republican Candidate Resource Manual, but that will not be available yet because there are 10 pending Election Laws that are awaiting the Governor’s signature or Veto. When the fate of those laws is decided, the new manual will be available through an SREC member or your County Party. I do encourage every Republican Candidate to ask for this informative document.
The Grassroots Club’s current membership has fallen to 954 members statewide. Many of our SD8 memberships have expired. Please check to see if you are still getting charged on your credit card, or if it has been a year since you last donated your $99. The Grassroots Committee is gearing up to now include three levels of giving. Bronze will be $8.25 a month or $99 a year with all the current perks. Silver will be $12.50 a month or $150 a year, with some new additional perks. Gold will be $25 a month or $300 a year with even more perks. Be watching the Grassroots Club website for these opportunities coming very soon.
The Mighty Texas Strike Force is still active and making a difference. From June 11-20 Texans will be traveling to Georgia to work the Congressional District 6 runoff race. Click here if you would like more information on joining that team.
Only one year from now we will be meeting in San Antonio for our Texas Republican Convention. We’ll have our Primary on March 6. Our Precinct Conventions will be held on that same day or during that week. Any Republican voter may show up and attend as a Delegate to their Precinct Convention meeting. Following next will be the Senatorial District Conventions, then on to the State Convention. At the State Convention the full Delegation will elect a Chair and Vice Chair of the State Party and each Senate District will elect their Committeeman and Committeewoman. It is hard to believe that my final term on the State Republican Executive Committee is half way over already. There is so much more we can do together in the days ahead. Let’s get busy.