The first part of December was very hectic as the candidate filing period for the 2014 Republican Primaries did not end until December 9th. We usually have candidates filing at the last minute and this year was no exception. We also had a last day development of Congressman Steve Stockman withdrawing from his race for re-election and refiling as a candidate for the US Senate seat. State law mandates that if an incumbent withdraws on the final day of the filing period, we have to extend the filing period for that race by five days. The law also mandates that if the 5th day lands on a weekend, the filing is extended until Monday, which was case for this race. As a result, the filing period ended up running through the second week of December.
The filing period was particularly burdensome for our staff this year as a result of new requirements. One such requirement was that the voter identification numbers of every signer of a petition have to be verified by the RPT. As result of numerous candidates filing by petition, our staff literally had to check almost four thousand pages of petitions and verify the voter registration status on 33,539 voters. Moreover, our Organization Director, Cassie Daniel, and Primary Elections Administrator, Cindi McIntyre, also had to make sure all of the county chairs were aware of new statutes, knew the procedure for ballot drawing and were aware of the process to certify ballots. I’m very proud of our staff who put in very long hours, day after day, to make sure all candidate applications and petitions were reviewed and either accepted or rejected in a timely manner.
While the staff was finishing up with filing, I returned to Washington DC to continue my work as a member of the subcommittee analyzing the current state of RNC rules and making recommendations. I am not at liberty to inform you as to the what the ultimate recommendations of the subcommittee will be, but I can tell you there is a consensus among RNC members that the current primary process is too long, the convention occurs too late, states should not be able to jump in line, and that the debate process needs to be overseen by Republicans and not media. After attending this meeting, I am optimistic that a consensus will be reached at one of our upcoming meetings either in January or later in the spring, which will address most, if not all, of these issues in a positive way.
I continue to be an advocate for rules that enforce our primary schedule which mandates that no state, other than the four carve-out states, hold their primaries before March 1st. Texas is currently scheduled for March 1st so we are now 5th in line, which I am fighting to preserve. I also advocated that the RNC not tell states how to pick their own delegates to the national convention. I may lose the battle not to have any limitations on how we pick our delegates but I am hopeful the final rules will give us at least some leeway.
In December we also continued work on our state convention and we launched the registration page for the convention and straw poll which you can see here. You might have also noticed we had the state party website redesigned for a more modern look and more streamlined usability. If you haven’t seen it yet please click here.
December also held the final quarterly meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee.Click here for a recap of that meeting.
In between the SREC meeting and traveling to Washington DC, I had the opportunity to make appearances around the state before the holidays. During the first week, I spoke at the Nueces County fundraiser. Chairwoman Kimberly Curtis put together a wonderful event. The next day I attended the annual holiday celebration at the State Capitol hosted by Speaker Joe Straus.
The following week I traveled to Houston to speak at the celebration honoring the 70thanniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The event was cosponsored by the Republican Party of Texas as well as our new statewide auxiliary, Texas Asian Republican Assembly (TARA), along with the local Houston Asian American Republican Club. The event was well attended and the State Chair of the Texas Asian Republican Assembly, Martha Wong, was the emcee. Martin Gold, author of “Forbidden Citizens: Chinese Exclusion” and the “US Congress: A Legislative History”, was the featured speaker. We had dozens of members of the Asian American community in attendance and I am very proud of our Asian American Engagement Director, Melissa Fwu, and Martha Wong’s work in the Asian community and I was very encouraged by the turnout and enthusiasm of the Republicans in attendance.
The following day I had an appearance on YNN Austin and then left again for Washington DC for the Subcommittee on Rules meeting. Upon my return I was one of the speakers for a local candidate training seminar hosted by the RPT. Please click here to see that report. The following day we organized a tele-town hall with Senator Rand Paul exclusively for Grassroots Club members. Click here for a recap of that tele-town hall. For those of you that are not members of the GRC you really missed an exciting opportunity to speak with Senator Paul, who answered questions directly from GRC members. The feedback we received from those that participated has been tremendous and it was a rare opportunity to visit with one of our national leaders one-on-one. We plan to hold additional teleconferences next year exclusively for GRC members. If you have not joined yet, please do so as it is a great way to give to the state party while also yielding some great benefits. Click here to sign up today.
We finished out the third week of December having our annual staff Christmas party at the office with a catered lunch paid for by SREC Sergeant at Arms, Nelda Epps. One of the things that struck me was fact that our staff now fills the conference room. When I was first elected as Chairman we had to cut staff back to a point where in the Fall of 2010 we only had six full time, permanent employees, two of which were accounting. Today we have close to two dozen employees, some of whom are working out in the field.
Having extra staff costs more money but I am very pleased to report that our year end financial figures indicated that we ended the year with more money than we started with. This means that despite a significant increase in the number of staff at RPT, we were still able to pay off all of our liabilities to $0 and the end the year with approximately $1.5 million cash on hand. About $500,000 are primary funds from the state held in trust, however, that still leaves approximately $1 million that is the state party’s money, of which over $800,000 is discretionary money as opposed to money already dedicated to other projects. Last year we ended with a little over $700,000 in discretionary money and the year before ended the year with a little under $700,000. My goal for 2012 was to end the year with no liabilities and with at least $500,000 in discretionary money with a goal of reaching $700,000. It turns out we were able to end the year with around $100,000 more than we started.
I would like to end my report with a summary of lessons I learned from the speaker at the anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act event in Houston. Prior to this presentation, I was unaware that it was against the law for Americans of Asian descent to own property, vote, etc., as a result of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was designed to halt the immigration of Asians to America in the late 1800’s. There was a strict limitation on the number of Asians that were allowed into America legally. The number was so small that it might as well have been 0. Those that opposed the legal immigration of Asians used very unkind words that had deep-rooted racial prejudice against those of Asian descent. It was so bad that one Texas judge ruled that it was not against the law to “kill a Chinaman” in Texas. Fortunately, the act was lifted in 1943, and as a result, our country has benefited greatly from the contributions of hardworking and industrious citizens who immigrated to the United States from Asian countries.
It would have been a shame if this terrible act had been extended any further. Discussing this act among my family resulted in older family members pointing out that there used to be similar biases against immigrants from Italy and Southern Europe. This caused me to look up immigration law from the 1920’s pertaining to immigrants from Southern Europe and more specifically, Italy. I learned that because Italians, people of Jewish faith, and other Southern European countries were looked down upon as inferior, there was a strict limitation placed on legal immigration from these countries that did not apply to other European countries as a result of a law passed in 1924. There was a maximum limitation of 2% of applicants allowed into the United States.
As an American of Italian descent, whose grandfather was naturalized in 1927 and whose father was born in Italy, I believe these laws were very misguided. I know from my own family’s experience that my grandfather was a hardworking man who put all three of his children through college, and we like to think that we have all contributed to society. As the current immigration debate rages on, I hope that we, as Republicans, remember we are a nation of immigrants, which has been one of our strengths. Our country’s population is drawn from virtually every culture around the world and has been re-energized by those coming here to work, obey the law, and start a new life. I personally believe many immigrants have a greater appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy than some who take our take freedom for granted.
As an individual Republican, I support our Party’s position that people should immigrate here legally. I agree the current immigration system is broken, that we should have secure borders, and people need to relocate here through a legal process, which includes thorough background checks. In addition, I believe it is impossible to have unlimited immigration, but rather we should set a reasonable limit on the number that come in every year. Hopefully in the future, our federal government will embrace the Republican philosphy of utilizing a lawful and reasonable immigration process which will enable us all to welcome many new naturalized citizens.
We are just starting a new year and I am hopeful this will be a year of renewal, not only for our Party but also the country. I am very optimistic about our prospects in 2014 and I look forward to our results springing us forward to retake White House in 2016. Happy New Year.
Stephen Munisteri, Chairman