If I was going to pick a theme song for my activities during the month of September, it would be Bob Wills' classic, "Miles and Miles of Texas". During the Legislative Session and Special Session, I had to put off many speaking engagements in order to be in Austin, so the result was a loaded schedule of appearances and speaking engagements in September. I drove approximately 3,000 miles in September visiting executive committees, Republican women's clubs, attending conservative functions, etc. This allowed me the opportunity to reconnect with our grassroots as well as to push membership in our Grassroots Club, which has been a focus of ours over the last couple of months.
September started off with the redistricting trial in Bexar County. Fortunately, the RPT was dismissed as a defendant approximately three days into the trial. Since I did not have to attend trial, the following week I was able to attend our Campaign Manager School. The school was an intensive three-day seminar on how to manage an effective campaign. Enrollment was limited to 25 students in order to give individual attention to each participant. We held one earlier in the year, but because of the limitation of class size, we were not able to accommodate all of the 90+ applicants who asked to attend. The second seminar allowed us to admit 25 people who were not chosen last time. This school also proved to be popular with 70+ applicants seeking one of the 25 spots. We had an impressive lineup of faculty from around the state. Please see our previous report.
After the campaign school, I travelled to Corpus Christi to give a speech on the aircraft carrier USS Lexington at an event sponsored by State Representative Todd Hunter. They had a great crowd, including a turnout of party leadership from several counties. Representative Hunter and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson were featured speakers along with myself. After the event, I had a chance to meet with some concerned grassroots activists prior to driving to Houston, and then on to Sherman for a speech before the local Republican club. Then it was back to Houston to participate in the Senatorial District 17 Workshop where SREC members Tina Gibson and Bruce Campbell hosted an update for local delegates and party activists. From there it was on to Georgetown the next day for the annual Williamson County GOP Picnic. The picnic was packed and attendees heard from a lineup of local candidates. County Chair Bill Fairbrother and his leadership put together a very successful event!
From the Williamson County picnic, I drove to Odessa, where the next day I spoke in front of the Odessa Republican Club. That afternoon, I had a chance to appear on a radio station in Midland, hosted by our own SREC member Jason Moore. While in Midland, Ernie Angelo also set up a meeting with local businessman Dale Brown, who generously agreed to contribute $5,000 to our party. On the drive back to Austin, I had an opportunity to stop in San Angelo, to visit with SREC member Russ Duerstine, about the activities of the party in his area. The following day it was on to Brenham, to speak to the Washington County GOP. They had a tremendous turnout which I estimate was around 200 people. I finally got a day off from traveling the next day, and then it was on to Seguin to speak at a Tea Party rally on the Town Square. SREC member Jan Koehne set up a meeting with party leadership prior to the speech. Back in Austin the next day, I had an opportunity to sit in on much of the Convention Committee meetings that were being held in Austin. The Convention Committee had interviewed and researched several companies to be our show coordinator for the 2012 Convention, and were impressed with two companies – preliminarily recommending one of those companies to be the prime candidate to manage the show portion of our convention. The Committee has also been working on convention packages, booths, sponsorships, galas, etc. They have worked particularly hard and have been meeting multiple time during the month to ensure that we have an improved convention experience next Summer. We should all give a special thanks to the Convention Committee, whose chair is Hal Talton, Vice-Chair Becky Berger, and committee members Jeanie Killgore, Jane Burch, Montie Watkins, Angie Flores, Jan Koehne, Tom Washington, David Halvorson, Janet Jackson, Neal Katz, Bonnie Lugo, Rebecca Williamson, Jean McIver and Angie King.
The day after the convention committee was in town, the RPT hosted a Saturday seminar on candidate training. 52 different potential and current candidates attended the seminar. There will be a more complete report put out on this event shortly.
The last week of the month, I traveled to Collin County to speak at the Collin County luncheon during their annual GOP Golf Tournament fundraiser. While there, I had an opportunity to visit with SREC member Candy Noble and some of our great North Texas grassroots Republicans. I also attended the Center-Right coalition meeting in Austin that week, and gave an update on the party activities. I was pleased to also have an opportunity to speak in front of the UT Chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas at one of their early semester meetings at thte Texas Capitol. The balance of the week was spent preparing for and attending SREC meetings – a complete separate report was provided previously.
One of the purposes of my traveling around the state was to push the Grassroots Club. As previously reported in my earlier Chairman's Updates, I think the Grassroots Club is the answer to the party's long-term financial problems. Telemarketing and direct mail both appear to be declining methods of raising funds and they are very expensive – costing anywhere from 40% to 70% of every dollar raised. The Grassroots Club allows us to raise money on a continual basis for only a charge of 5%. It also evens our cash flow and requires less staff time to raise the money. The long-term goal is to sign up 1000 new members every year for 10 years, which would yield enough money to pay for the base budget of the party. We set a goal of 1000 for the first year, and I am happy to report that as of October 1st, we have reached 1000 members. We are currently over 1050 members at 1069 at the time of this email, and have set a goal for 1200 by the end of this year, and 2000 by the end of 2012. The great advantage of this program is the party will remove the contributor from the telephone solicitation and direct mail solicitation lists. We also are planning some special events for Grassroots Club members at the convention, along with having special updates provided exclusively to members. If you would like to join, or need more information, click the following link.
Overall, the Republican Party of Texas' financial health has been maintained. We anticipated our cash balances falling by several hundred thousand over the summer, because traditionally, direct mail and telephones yield very little during the summer months and it is very difficult to hold any fundraisers during the summer. We were hoping to end the summer with $500,00 cash on hand after all bills were paid. We were able to do better than that – maintaining approximately $750,000 cash on hand, of which, approximately $700,000 was usable. During the month of September, the cash declined further to approximately $700,000 total cash, of which, approximately $625,000 was usable, inclusive of the $100,000 in the Rainy Day fund. On the positive side, this is better than where we anticipated we would be at the end of September, but on the negative side, our cash balances are declining and we anticipate several difficult months in the near future because of all the competition with the different campaigns.
During the month of September, we also finalized our plans to try and expand the number of Republicans active in the party and simultaneously, to increase our contributor base by test-marketing email blasts to Republican primary voters. All the preparation work has now been completed and we expect to launch that project shortly.
We also continued our focus on providing training to candidates, party workers, and political workers. As noted above, we held two schools in September, which brings our total over the last four months to four schools.
We also worked on our Victory 2012 plans in September. We recruited a new statewide Victory Chair for 2012, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, and will be providing a bio on him through separate email in the near future. This will enable us to begin work now for 2012 and further Republican victories in Texas.
We resolved the issue of the delegate selection at our SREC meeting, and a full report on that issue and others was issued yesterday by email and on the RPT website.
Finally, the first redistricting trial finished in Bexar County before a three-judge panel of Federal Court of Appeals Justices. We are anticipating a ruling as to what the final maps will look like sometime in the next month. What is clear, is that next year, we will have districts with very different lines from the present lines and that all of us at the Party will have our work cut out for us to retain a strong majority in the Texas House, attempt to get a two-thirds majority in the State Senate, and increase our Congressional delegation. In the meantime, I would encourage everybody to get involved with their local party and help it prepare for the upcoming primaries and to begin now to lay the groundwork for a successful 2012.
Steve Munisteri, Chairman, Republican Party of Texas