November 2012 Chairman's Update
The first few days of November were consumed preparing for Election Day, and I spent the last few days of the campaign season on the road for get out the vote efforts. The final weekend was spent block walking for Republican incumbent State Representative Connie Scott and visiting the San Patricio Victory Center on behalf of Republican incumbent J.M. Lozano. The last couple days before the election centered on ensuring our ballot security program was in place and that our county organizations had everything they needed. For full election recap please click here.
I took the day after the election off to grieve the results of the national election, and was back at it by the next day. At the end of election week I traveled to Bosque County to attend the funeral of the Bosque County Republican Party Chair Dr. Thomas Bratcher, and then drove to Austin to speak at a meeting of the Texas Federation of Republican Women leadership, which I followed up with a keynote address that evening at the TFRW dinner. The next week, I spoke to the Austin Republican Club as well as traveled to Denton County to emcee the Denton County Annual Volunteer Day. National Committeeman Doctor Robert Armstrong was keynote speaker; he gave a great speech reflecting on the recent election and the challenges our party faces. That week also began the staff and my process of evaluating what went right and what went wrong during the election. It was also time to get back to fundraising and I had many meetings with contributors that resulted in tens of thousands of dollars of new pledges.
Prior to Thanksgiving, the staff and I attended formal meetings with other Republican groups to analyze election data as well as obtain input as to how to improve for the 2014 election cycle. The week after Thanksgiving was focused preparing for the SREC meeting. Part of the preparation for the SREC meeting included holding three officials committee meetings on the budget as required by the bylaws. In between officials committee meetings, I spent several hours with a BBC television crew doing a story of the Texas GOP and why it was more successful in the recent elections than the national party.
On the financial front, as reported in our earlier election recaps, Victory and RPT together were able to spend over $2.2 million assisting our State Representative candidates. Despite this we were able to pay all our bills to ZERO by the end of the month and still have over a million dollars left in our accounts. Since we do not traditionally fundraise to any significant degree during the holiday season, we expect this balance to fall around the $800,000 level by the end of the year. However, the amount of this balance would be the highest end of the year balance that we have on record.
Finally, let me say a big thank you to all of you that have allowed us to have a successful year in Texas. Part of my mission during the remainder of my term will be to advocate that the national GOP look to Texas as an example of how to do it right. It’s really not very complicated. You need a party and candidates that clearly stand for principles, message these principles appropriately, support your local party organizations, as well as the grassroots, raise tons of money, and engage in effective outreach. With your support I am confident that the Texas GOP can lead the nation again in 2014.
Steve Munisteri, Chairman, Republican Party of Texas
SREC Update Fourth Quarterly Meeting
The 4th quarterly meeting for the State Republican Executive Committee was held on November 30th and December 1st at the RPT headquarters building in Austin. On Friday, standing SREC committees met and the day started with the officials committee meeting where the Chairman updated the officials committee on the role that RPT took in the elections, as well as provide a financial update. Assistant Treasurer Tom Washington and Neil Katz also provided an update on planning the 2014 State Convention. The Auxiliary and Coalitions Committee led by Tina Gibson met and considered applications from many groups seeking to be official republican auxiliaries. The Grassroots committee chaired by Candy Noble met and discussed ways to incentivize local parties, such as TFWR and other auxiliaries, to sign up for the grassroots club. Keri Mason, the RPT Financial Director, provided an update on a new software vendor for the grassroots club.
The resolutions committee chaired by assistant general counsel Eric Opiela considered a resolution expressing displeasure with the RNC’s handling of various matters at the national convention. A resolution was introduced by Chairman Munisteri to move up the Presidential primary and allow a winner take all system, as well as the resolution on faithless electors. The rules committee chaired by Dennis Paul met to consider additional rules changes. The candidate resource committee chaired by Jane Cansino met to review their work pertaining to the 2012 election during which they gave out $119,000. The volunteerism committee chaired by Leslie Recine met to discuss their mission for 2014, including providing volunteers for the state convention. The organization committee chaired by Marian Stanko met to discuss the party’s infrastructure, including the production and distribution of training and instruction videos.
The following day kicked off with a prayer service, after which the SREC was called to order. The Chairman introduced Senator Estes who welcomed the new SREC and highlighted Senate Bill 113 that he filed to eliminate the Franchise Tax, also known as the margins tax in Texas. Following Senator Estes, Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman addressed the SREC and spoke about the Railroad Commission going through the Sunset Process this Legislative Session (as all state agencies do in a staggered 12 year rotation.) He wants to
ensure that the Railroad Commission can continue to regulate oil and gas effectively and be a model for the rest of the nation.
Commissioner Smitherman also surprised the Chairman with a $5,000 contribution to the state party. After the speeches came officer reports. Chairman Munisteri kicked off the reports by first reporting on the efforts of the state party during the 2012 campaigns. He noted he would leave the details to an election recap presentation later that afternoon, but did want to make some key points prior to that.
The first was that one of his major goals when he became chairman to re-integrate the Victory operations fully with the general RPT operations was accomplished. He reported that with the statewide Victory Chair, Harris County Judge Ed Emmet's concurrence, the RPT staff was utilized to run the day to day operations of Victory 2012. In addition, RPT headquarters served as the Victory headquarters. The chairman noted that this eliminated duplicate expenses of staff and overhead which he felt was a big positive. He also reported that the RPT was able to give away hundreds of thousands of dollars separate from Victory to individual candidates, and had the financial resources to help some of the local county GOPs. For example, he noted a substantial amount of money and effort was directed to Harris County because it was extremely competitive and is the state’s largest county. He noted that in Harris County alone, the State Party and Victory paid for or made over 429,000 phone calls, mailed hundreds of thousands pieces of mail, operated two victory centers, and gave local republic candidates tens of thousands of dollars. The chairman believes these efforts directly resulted in Harris County being basically tied as opposed to it going Democratic as it did in 2008.
The chairman noted that the RPT had an excellent relationship with the local Harris County GOP leadership and that cooperation was a significant factor in the successes achieved. The State Chairman also advocated a resolution, which he was proposing, to authorize him to engage in a full fledged lobbying effort to move up the 2016 presidential primary and allow the state party to alter its apportionment of delegates, including having the option to switch to winner take all. The Chairman opined that he was tired of Texas not having a significant role in the presidential primary process and felt the most significant contribution that the Texas GOP could make is to have a greater influence on who our Presidential nominee is in 2016.
He also noted that $12.3 million has been raised in the 29 months he has been chairman, including $5.1 million in 2012 alone. He reported that fundraising had gone significantly better than anticipated and as a result, the party had over $1 million in its accounts after it paid off all of its bills following the election. Vice Chairman Melinda Frederick was not able to make her report because her doctor had requested she remain in Houston as a result of her influenza. National Committeeman Dr. Robin Armstrong talked about running to be a member of the Republican National Committee's Resolutions Committee as one of the Southern Region representatives. Also highlighted was the trip led by Dr. Armstrong to get out the vote in Ohio. National Committeewoman Bora Van Dormolen spoke on how the Republican National Committee will hold their 2013 Winter Meeting in Charlotte North Carolina January 23 -26, where officer elections will take place. The RNC will welcome 35 new members including Dr. Robin Armstrong.
Treasurer Tom Mechler and Assistant Treasurer Tom Washington gave a report on the party’s finances and indicated that the party is in excellent financial shape, they also reported that all reports for the FEC and TEC were filed with no pending matters from either entity. They also indicated there would be an official audit of the Convention finances in addition to the general audit of the state party that will be conducted soon. General Counsel Patrick O’Daniel reported that there were no new lawsuits against the party. He also reported there are only two active lawsuits of which the Party is seeking active dismissal.
After the officer reports there was a presentation on the 2013 budget where the Chairman explained that the proposed budget consisted of two parts. The first part was the base overhead which consisted of ongoing fixed expenses and the second part was a wish list of expanded efforts which would only be funded if additional moneys were raised. The new baseline budget adds an additional position in fieldwork for outreach. The wish list included numerous field reps, additional outreach personnel, and additional funds for outreach programs. The budget passed unanimously.
Comptroller Susan Combs, who was one of the sponsors of the SREC meeting, was the keynote speaker at lunch. She highlighted reports that have come out this year, Texas, It’s Your Money, “Your Money and Pension Obligations,” which takes a detailed look at the condition of state and local employees’ pension plans. Several municipal bankruptcies across the country focused public attention on a growing nationwide problem: the increasing instability of many state and local pension programs. More than 15 percent of Texans are employed by state and local government, so we looked at the various public pension plans in Texas. Previous studies include, "Your Money and Taxing Facts," "Your Money and Local Debt," and "Your Money and Education Debt." To view any of these full reports at www.TexasItsYourMoney.org
After the Comptroller’s speech an auxiliary report was given by the College Republicans Megan Higginbotham (who is also SREC from SD 5), and Connor Pfeiffer, State Chairman of the High School Republicans of Texas reported on how the HSRT has continued to grow since its founding in March of this year and their chapters are more active than ever, meeting frequently and hosting elected officials and party leaders across the state.
Also reporting to the SREC were the various SREC committees, including the Resolutions Committee which resulted in the passage of Chairman Munisteri’s resolution to move the 2016 presidential primary in Texas earlier in March so as to be one of the first states to cast ballots and have a bigger influence in determining the next Republican presidential candidate. Also reporting were the Rules Committee, Party Organization Committee, Volunteerism Committee, Auxiliaries and Coalitions Committee, Candidate Resource Committee, and Grassroots Committee.
A surprise special guest also stopped by to say hello. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst was the surprise guest and he briefly spoke to the success of Texas being lower in spending, lower in taxes and the items that will be considered this Session. One large issue focused on by Lt. Governor Dewhurst was a Texas Constitutional Amendment to limit spending to population growth plus inflation. Other major issues are education reform, roads, water, drug testing for those receiving welfare, and border security. He would also like to focus on the Governor's Budget Compact.
An extensive election recap was presented by RPT Political Director John McCord and Director of Special Projects John Jackson discussing how the Republican Party of Texas was involved in the 2012 elections across Texas including the successful phone and mail programs that the party was able to fund this year. They also spoke about how well the State of Texas performed in this year’s elections and how more and more Republicans are getting elected each year despite poor performance by Republicans nationally. Click here for the full election recap.
Following the election recap, SREC members that had raised $1,000 or more were rewarded their keypins. Those receiving their pins were Jim Wiggins (SD-3), Leslie Recine (SD-10), Dr. Jonny Lovejoy III (SD-26). Marian Stanko (SD-26), and Rena Land Peden (SD-30).
At the end of the meeting during the new business portion of the meeting, SREC member Bill Eastland introduced resolutions pertaining to school of choice and the blocker bill. These resolutions were not successful. Opponents of the resolution were in favor of the content of the resolutions but thought that due process was in order for the resolutions to be discussed at the Resolutions Committee level before being brought to a vote before the SREC.
Following adjournment, the SREC joined Governor Rick Perry and First Lady Anita Perry and the governor’s mansion for a reception. The renovated mansion looked beautiful and the Christmas decorations were stunning. Governor Perry addressed the SREC and spoke to the outcome of the election and the upcoming Legislative Session. He thanked the SREC members for all of their hard work to elect the most conservative Texas Legislature. He also spoke about the theme for the Christmas decorations at the Governor's Mansion. Each room was dedicated to a different branch of the United States Military and the garland adorning the staircase listed the name of every Texan in history who has been award the Congressional Medal of Honor. He also noted the Nativity Scene on the south side of the lawn that is on display and lit at night.
The next meeting of the SREC will be the first quarterly meeting of 2013 on March 1st and 2nd at the Republican Party of Texas headquarters in Austin.