Party Progress

It’s been a very eventful last few weeks, since our last report. I got sued for the first time, by the Democratic Party. I knew this would happen eventually, but seven weeks in office might be a record. The suit was over Sen. Birdwell’s residency, and I’m happy to report that due to the work of former Chief Justice Cayce of the Kelly Hart & Holman law firm, the Republican Party prevailed. I’ve also had the opportunity in the last couple of weeks to visit with two former Executive Directors of the RPT, Wayne Thorburn and John Weaver, which afforded me the opportunity to acquire information as to things the party did in the past. I learned the party used to have a full-time opposition researchers, voter registration staff, ballot security staff, fundraisers, field officers, etc. Listening to them made me realize that we have our work cut out for us if we want the RPT to achieve its full maximum potential. I do feel as though we are on the right track, and our financial situation has steadily improved.

Since our last report the RPT has become solvent again, meaning that we have more cash on hand than we owe in debt. As of last Friday, the debt has been reduced from a high of $685,000k in June to $395,000. Meanwhile, our cash on hand continues to increase and has been higher than our debt for about the past three weeks. This is in part due to our first fundraiser we held in Houston on August 24 at the home of Ned Holmes. It was hosted by County Judge Ed Emmett. Co-hosts were Robert Mosbacher Jr., Paul Bettencourt, and Jacob Monty. Sponsors included Sen. Dan Patrick, Sen. Tommy Williams, Sen. Mike Jackson, Sen. Joan Huffman, state Rep. Beverly Woolley. The host committee included John and Penny Butler, Bill McMinn, John Nau, and Bob Perry. Rep. Kevin Brady also attended, as did former state Reps. Brad Wright and Martha Wong. RPT Vice Chairman Melinda Fredricks, SREC member Clint Moore, and current Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Leo Vasquez were also in attendance. The event raised $95,000 in pledges, of which $92,500 has been collected.

Not counting the fundraisers, our total pledges since I took office from individuals and officeholders now total approximately $636,000. We also have received pledges of $34,000 to date for our Sept 8 Dallas fundraiser with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, of which $30,000 has already been collected. Thus, approximately $760,000 has been pledged in the last 10 weeks, of which approximately $437,000 has been collected. We have also set a fundraiser with Gov. Rick Perry for Ft Worth on Thursday, Sept 23. We have a fundraiser set in Austin with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus on Oct 26.

Despite the recent improvement in the RPT’s financial condition, it’s important that we not let up since the existing telemarketing and mail programs are insufficient to cover the overhead. Our long-term solution, the $8.25 program, is close to being launched. We have not only picked a vendor, Aristotle, but have signed a contract with them and they tell us that the first phase of the programs’ roll-out should be ready in about 2 weeks. We are very excited about this program. We are also excited about our Trailblazers program, which has now signed up 1,900 volunteers. If you are interested in participating, please sign up on our web site or call Josh Perry.

During the last couple of weeks I have also had an opportunity to meet with numerous state Representatives as well as attend an Alliance for Life luncheon in Austin, a Rand Paul fundraiser in Houston, a King Street Patriots/Northwest Republican Club meeting in Houston, attend a Roy Morales fundraiser in Houston, keynote the Bell County Republican dinner, keynote the Dallas Metroplex Women’s Club luncheon, and stop by the GRIT reception in Austin.

Last week, we also had a chance to begin firing back at the Democrats who have been aggressively attacking our state Rep. candidates. I held a press conference in Waco last week attacking Democrat state Rep. Jim Dunnam, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, for misrepresenting his residency. This was very well-received and attended. We received coverage from two local TV stations, the Waco Tribune, the Waco Citizen, Dallas Morning News, Texas Tribune, Quorum Report and some blogs. Look for announcements on similar events in the future. It was fun to be on the offensive.

On a sad note, our excellent Communications Director, Bryan Preston, will be leaving for greener pastures. Bryan will have an exciting announcement, which we will share with you sometime in the near future. Meanwhile, Chris Elam has accepted an offer to come on board as Communications Director and is already transitioning with Bryan. I am also pleased to announce that Patrick O’Daniel has agreed to serve as our new general counsel, subject to ratification by the SREC. Patrick is a member of Texas Alliance for Life, a former chapter chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas and member of the Federalist Society. He was #1 in his UT law school class, was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as well as a clerk for Texas Supreme Court Justice Will Garwood. Eric Opiela, the former party Executive Director and current SREC member, has agreed to accept the post of assist general counsel subject to SREC ratification.

With just 63 days left before the election, now is the time to get involved and propel our candidates to victory. Texas’ strength depends on all of us Republicans to unite around our candidates, support our local and state Republican party, and stand on our values. The Democrats would like nothing better than to steal a win or two in the strongest large Republican state in the nation. It is up to all of us, working together, to protect the Lone Star State from the left’s assault.

Steve Munisteri, Chairman, Republican Party of Texas