This update will probably be the shortest update since I have been Chairman (which will come as good news to some) as a result of my being out of the office the last two weeks of December due to my taking a week off to go to China to help out an old friend by agreeing to handle ring announcing and TV commentating for some championship boxing matches. Nevertheless there is some news to report for December.
During the first week of December, I attended the Heritage Foundation conference in Houston at which the keynote speech was given by former Attorney General Ed Meese in Houston. General Meese gave his analyses as to why the Republican Party lost the November elections, including some specific recommendations for the future. I agree with his analysis that the party needs to be more effective with its messaging and needs to be more effective with its ground operations. I attended as the guest of former State Chairman George Strake. It was great to meet with former chairman Strake who served the party ably from 1983-1988. The next day back in Austin I had a chance to meet with Rep Larry Gonzales, regarding strategies to effectively outreach to Hispanic communities. Rep Gonzales was recently reelected to his second term and is a rising star within our party. The following day my staff and I met with the staff of Senator Estes to learn what issues might be coming before the legislature that are of interest to the party. We are appreciative of the time his staff spent with us to provide us important input.
I then traveled to Muenster, Texas to speak at the Cooke County Republican Club. Pat Peel, a long time party activist who has organized many task forces in the past, invited me to attend. They had a fantastic turnout and it is obvious there is a strong party up there. The following week I traveled to Llano, Texas to speak at the Highland Lakes Republican Club and traveled to Georgetown to speak to the local TFRW club. Later that week, our Executive Director Beth Cubriel and I set a series of staff meetings to review next year’s goals and asked each dept head to prepare a written plan to accomplish them. The end result is that we now have comprehensive plans in place for minority outreach, youth outreach, fundraising, and party building for 2013. These are very ambitious plans that will require fundraising to accomplish. The Organizational Director Cassie Daniel’s plan outlines an ambitious program to provide assistance to our local county parties by recruiting new county chairmen, providing training, and in selective counties, assistance with recruiting precinct chairmen. The youth outreach plan provides for the expansion of our high school and college chapters, leadership conferences, and logistical support for our youth groups. Our political department is also working on an ambitious voter registration and identification plan.
In addition, our political staff, including David Zapata, has been working on a comprehensive outreach plan. These plans include hiring additional field staff to bring the Republican message to all communities in the state, data mining, and increased efforts to communicate with outside groups including auxiliaries to assist in outreach. As part of this effort our staff worked very hard in December to set up an outreach conference scheduled for January 15th at which National Chairman Reince Priebus will have an opportunity to meet with our various auxiliary groups and listen to our proposals for outreach both here in Texas and nationally. In addition to planning for the outreach conference, the staff also worked in December on our strategies for pushing legislation during the upcoming legislative session. We are asking the legislature to allow the party to decide if its Presidential Primary election is "winner take all" as well as asking the legislature to make March 1st the permanent primary date unless it falls on a holiday. The 2016 Presidential Primary now falls on Tuesday March 1st but we would like the legislature to make March 1st the primary date every election cycle. The thought behind these efforts is to increase Texas’ influence on future presidential nominations.
Prior to leaving for China, I attended a meeting of the Texas delegation of the Electoral College which took place at the Texas Capitol. Three persons, including myself, were nominated to chair the delegation. I was honored to be elected by over three-quarters of the delegation. Newly appointed Secretary of State John Steen called the meeting to order after the election for chair was concluded and we moved onto a vote for President and Vice President of the United States. All 38 electors voted for Romney for President and all electors voted for Paul Ryan for Vice President. I then left for China. While I was away the staff closed out the year end books and I am pleased to report that we ended the year without any debt and with slightly over $1 million in all of our accounts. Out of this approximately $890,000 represents discretionary funds available. We ended the year with approximately $200,000 more than we began the year despite expanding our staff and spending over $2.2 million in the most recent elections.
While I was in China, the RPT political staff met with a group of activists and the creator of rVotes software to discuss options of this alternative to GOPData Center. The meeting was organized by Clint Moore, a former SREC member who is assisting the Harris County GOP on technology. The staff and I are still in the information collecting phase of deciding whether or not to enter into an agreement with rVotes. It has been reported to me that the software is an impressive vehicle to gather, store and utilize voter file information but it comes with a hefty price tag. If we want to proceed further, we need to do so with confidence that we have the grassroots support to gather and input tens of thousands of data points each month. Whether we move forward with rVotes or not, the RPT is committed to spending resources on updating our voter file and gathering data points on currently unidentified voters in our database so we can more efficiently target them in future elections. So, you can look forward to our reaching out to you for help with this project well in advance of the 2014 elections. I would like to extend a special thank you to both Clint Moore for organizing the meeting and also to Holly Frost, an RPT friend and computer genius who traveled from Houston to Austin to attend the meeting and offer his assessment of the software.
My trip to China reminded me yet again that we live in the greatest country on the planet. While many of the people were friendly and the countryside was beautiful, it was clear that in the area I was in, that China has a long way to catch up to the United States. During a long drive from the airport to the city, I had the opportunity to view multiple impoverished areas. I also observed that many of the peasants were still using rickshaws and more primitive equipment than I am used to seeing in the United States. While there were areas of obvious expansion, there were also areas where infrastructure was abandoned. There also appeared to be huge wealth disparity despite Communism’s stated goal of having an equal society. There were numerous new high rises of expensive condos close to the water, which I was told were owned by the rich Chinese who used them for their winter homes in an area that a short distance away people live in shanties; so much for the equality of communism. I also observed at the event at which I announced there was a disparity as to how people were treated dependant on their social status. More importantly, I observed that when national news was broadcast, the same broadcast came on every channel simultaneously. More disturbing, when we tried to use the internet, multiple websites were shut down by the government. My broadcast partner, who is the editor of a boxing publication, was unable to post to Facebook or send out tweets. Although I knew before I left for China that the Communist Party still tightly regulated speech and expression, it is still nonetheless startling as an American who is used to free speech to have those freedoms denied. I also noted that there were military personnel everywhere. I have never been so glad to be back in the good old USA after this trip. As we begin the New Year, we should all be thankful for the freedoms that we have in this country and renew our determination to preserve them.
As thankful as I was to return to the United States at the end of December, I have to be honest and say it was quite depressing to watch the negotiations over the so called "fiscal cliff". I personally am very disappointed that while approximately $600 billion in new taxes were agreed to, there were no offsetting spending cuts. To the contrary, the CBO estimates that another $4 trillion was added to the deficit as a result of the so called compromise compared to what the deficit would have been without a deal. Consequently over the next days and weeks I will be consulting with the SREC to discuss ways for us as the Republican Party of the largest Republican state to try to influence national leadership to be more effective in promoting Republican principles. Specifically, we will be looking at ways to communicate to the national leadership that they need to be more forceful in insisting that additional spending cuts need to be made and the national debt be dealt with in a meaningful way. Lets hope the worst is behind us and that 2013 will result in a resurgence of intestinal fortitude among our national leadership. Happy New Year!