May presented a very unique challenge to the RPT as we had to prepare for the May 29th Primary Election at the same time that we had to prepare for the 2012 Texas GOP Convention in Fort Worth. This problem was accentuated as a result of having only six weeks in between our county/district conventions and the State Convention as opposed to the normal eleven weeks. Consequently, before I provide you with an update on the Convention and my activities in May, I think it’s important that I express my appreciation to our very over-worked and stressed staff, as well as the thousands and thousands of volunteers who worked to put on the Primary Election and the hundreds of volunteers helping to make the State Convention a success.
I am pleased to report that overall, the Primaries went relatively smoothly. There was a hiccup here or there, but nothing dramatic. The end result is that we had over 1,400,000 primary voters. Despite dire projections of a very low turnout, the truth of the matter is that more people voted in the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary than voted in the 2008 Republican Presidential Primary and we roughly had the same number of voters this time when compared to 2010 when we had a hotly contested gubernatorial race. In light of the facts that the Presidential contest was winding down, the Primary date being delayed three times and having a Tuesday election the day after Memorial Day – we have to judge the 2012 Republican Primary as a success.
At the same time my staff was preparing for the Primary, they also had to work on the State Convention along with our Convention Committee, chaired by Hal Talton and co-chaired by Becky Berger. Despite only having half the time to put the Convention together, I am pleased to report that we were able to schedule a full range of events and activities.
Thursday will be focused on organizing the Convention and holding our first Senatorial District Caucus meetings and there will also be numerous permanent committee meetings. The day will also feature speeches from Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott. There are also functions being hosted by conservative groups such as the Texas Republican Assembly event with Sharron Angle, the Eagle Forum Dinner with Phyllis Schlafly and David Barton, and a Texans for Life reception. The day will be capped off by an event hosted by the RPT in the Convention Arena which will double as a delegate welcome event and a Salute to Veterans. On Thursday, we have also scheduled breakout sessions which are a first-time innovation for the Party. Instead of just a parade of speakers, we plan to have eleven breakout sessions during two different time blocks which will allow delegates to pick topics and speakers that they are interested in hearing from. The TFRW and the TRCCA will have breakout sessions for delegates to attend, and other speakers and additional sessions include: Kim Chambers of TFRW, Rachel Woods of TFRW, Amy Clark – SREC 21, Ann Peden – TRCCA, Commissioner Barry Smitherman, Representative Kelly Hancock, Comptroller Susan Combs, Railroad Commissioner David Porter, Representative Geanie Morrison, Senator Dan Patrick, Representative Todd Hunter, Representative Jason Isaac, Catherine Engelbrecht – Founder of True The Vote, Senator Glenn Hegar, Representative Jim Keffer, Representative Four Price, Commissioner Tom Pauken, Representative Dan Branch, Presidential Campaign Consultants Rob Johnson, David Polyanski and John Weaver, and a special featured breakout session will be held by Congressman Ron Paul in the main arena.
At the conclusion of the day on Thursday, the Convention will be organized and ready for a full slate of business on Friday and Saturday. Friday's business will focus on state contests such as SREC, State Chair and Vice Chair, and debating the Party patform. Also on Friday, there will be a Texas Federation of Republican Women's Tribute to Women Luncheon as well as numerous receptions hosted by candidates and elected officials. The Latino National Republican Coalition will also hold a reception in conjunction with the Texas Young Republicans featuring Herman Cain, and the evening will be capped off by the Republican Party of Texas' Gala Banquet featuring former Senator Rick Santorum, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and Texas' own Senator John Cornyn.
Saturday's focus will be on National contests for National Committeeman, National Committeewoman, national delegates and Presidential Electors. There is a Congressional breakfast that morning, as well as a luncheon for Grassroots Club members featuring U.S. Congressman Quico Canseco and U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions. The highlight of the day will be a keynote speech by Congressman Paul Ryan during the afternoon general session.
At the time of this writing, pre-registrations for the Convention are at an all-time high, booth sales are at an all-time high and overall revenues for the Convention are at an all-time high. We are all looking forward to a very successful Convention in Fort Worth and to seeing many of you there.
I also had the opportunity in May to make some of my normal rounds around the state. During the first week of May, we had our monthly tele-townhall with Party leadership. I also was invited by former SREC member and RPT Chaplain Bob Long to attend a national day of prayer service featuring Governor Perry. That weekend, the National Republican Senatorial Caucus was in town with 19 U.S. Senators, and I had an opportunity to attend their events in Austin on Friday-Sunday. Senator John Cornyn was the host of the event, and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was also there to help represent the state of Texas.
The following week, I spent much of the time on the road as I traveled on Monday to Throckmorton County, where the Party welcomed nine county elected officials into the GOP as they switched away from being in the Democratic Party. Later in the week, I traveled to Collin County to speak to the North Collin County Republican Women's club, then further on to Midland to speak to the Midland Republican Women's Club, and then back to Austin to attend an Associated Republicans of Texas reception. The following week, I spoke to a Travis County Republican Women's club and then went down to Houston to speak to the Daughters of Liberty Republican Women's Club. That weekend, I traveled to Spicewood to meet with leadership from the Hill Country Texas Tea Party. The next week I had a chance to stop by the Williamson County caucus meeting and participate in several media interviews. The rest of the month was spent in preparations for the State Convention and final details with the staff.
On the financial front, I am pleased to report that we ended the month with approximately $1,400,000 in all accounts after all bills were paid, of which, approximately $800,000 were discretionary funds. Part of this is due to the increased membership in the Grassroots Club which is now just a shade shy of 2,000 members – as well as increased contributions from our small mail and telephone donors. For any of you who have contributed, you have our heartfelt thanks for your support.
Together, we have come through a very tumultuous Primary and Convention season – but together (despite the best efforts of the Democrats to thwart us) we were able to accomplish our tasks, overcome the obstacles, and arrive at this week ready to have a wonderful State Convention.
Thank you for all that you do for our State Party, and I look forward to seeing many thousands of you this week here in Fort Worth.
Steve Munisteri, Chairman, Republican Party of Texas