This update will be shorter than most updates because for the first time since I started running for State Chairman in Fall 2009, I had an opportunity to take 13 consecutive days off to take a vacation and travel around Europe. Nevertheless, while I was away the RPT staff continued to move forward with our preparations for the 2014 election cycle. As we recently announced, as a result of grants from the Republican National Committee, the RPT will be operating year round Victory centers for the first time as opposed to our Victory centers in the past that would open a few months before the election then shut down immediately afterwards. Victory centers are responsible for voter registration, identification, persuasion, and turnout. Establishing these centers early allows us to focus our efforts on independent and swing voters, as well as new residents to the state well in advance of the election.
Once we get closer to the election these centers will work to persuade those that we have identified to vote for Republican candidates and encourage turnout. In conjunction with the Victory effort we are also significantly increasing our engagement efforts in the African American, Asian American, and Hispanic American communities. We are deploying full time personnel across the state whose sole function will be to ensure that the Republican Party and its elected officials are actively involved in all our communities.
Not only will our engagement personnel be working with existing Republicans in different communities, they will also be encouraging our elected officials to attend as many community events and Republican town halls as possible. We also anticipate being provided with a new digital platform within the next few months and a full time digital expert staffer which will allow the Party to better utilize data analytics and data mining to target specific voters. Moreover, all these efforts will enhance our ability to increase our door to door ground game which proved highly effective in Texas over the last two election cycles. In 2010 and 2012 the State Party encouraged and helped organize Republicans around the state to block walk on three consecutive weekends. The addition of these Victory centers and staff will allow us to go door to door earlier and more often, and we are hopeful that the latest technology provided by the RNC will help us identify and persuade a record number of voters in 2014.
As we recently announced, we will have eight offices statewide, of which three are up and running now or will be shortly with the remainder expected to open by the turn of the year. We are undertaking three rounds of hiring to staff these new offices. The first is substantially completed with only one position yet to be filled. The second round of hiring should be completed in early September with the third round expected to be completed after the turn of the New Year.
While I was gone on vacation, RPT Executive Director Beth Cubriel, in conjunction withJohn Jackson, RNC Statewide Victory Director, and John McCord, RPT Political Director, reviewed dozens of resumes and conducted dozens of interviews to select what we believe are highly qualified and motivated additions to the staff. We are pleasantly surprised by the quantity and quality of the people available for these new positions despite fierce competition from statewide campaigns staffing up.
The month of July also saw the conclusion of the second special session of the state legislature. The State Party staff remained active throughout the session providing regular updates through social media and email blasts to Republican activists around the state.
Also during July the staff began working on preliminary preparations for the 2014 state convention which will also include a presidential straw poll. There will be an announcement in relation to the straw poll soon so look for specifics in the next few weeks.
Prior to leaving for vacation I had the opportunity to travel to Southlake, Texas to speak to the Northeast Tarrant County Tea Party. Approximately 200 people turned out to ask questions concerning the state of the Republican Party. Julie McCarty, President of the NE Tarrant Tea Party, has put together a very impressive organization. The event was such a success and the exchange so worthwile that we plan to hold another session with the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party again in next couple months.
When I got back from vacation I had a chance to attend and speak at the Senatorial District 17 caucus organized by SREC members Tina Gibson and Marvin Clede. Long time Harris County Republican leader Pat Hughes hosted the caucus in a conference center on his property. This meeting was also standing room only and appeared to include more than 200 people. State Rep. Sarah Davis, State Senator Joan Huffman, Agriculture Commissioner candidate Eric Opiela, Railroad Commissioner and Attorney General Candidate Barry Smitherman, among others addressed the crowd. Also in attendance wasSREC member and Railroad Commissioner candidate Becky Berger as well as SREC member Bonnie Lugo.
I ended the month with a speech before the United Republicans of Harris County. They too had a packed house of approximately 200 people. There was so much interest in the State Party that the custodian had to run us out of building after my being there for over three hours.
In addition to having great turnouts at the events I attended, RPT Organization Director, Cassie Daniel, held the first of numerous regional training sessions around the state. The Northeast Texas Regional training was held July 20th in Smith County at the Tyler Area Senior Citizen Association Building. Over 100 attendees including SREC Members, County Chairs, Precinct Chairs and other political activists received training regarding the primary election process, county party function, precinct chair recruitment, and get out the vote techniques. Elected Officials from the area sponsored both breakfast and lunch. Congressman Louie Gohmert, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, and Representatives Bryan Hughes and David Simpson spoke to the group.
On the financial front, all good things must come to an end. In August of 2012 the Party exceeded $1 million aggregate in all of our accounts and maintained that amount through the third week of July 2013. However on July 31, after we paid our payroll, paid all invoices to $0, and made a deposit on next years’ convention, the balance fell below $1 million for first time since last August. However, maintaining a balance exceeding $1 million for almost a full year was unexpectedly welcome news and as of July 31 a little over $975,000 remained in all our accounts, which is more than I expected to have at this time. As indicated in previous emails we had been expecting a significant decline of several hundred thousand dollars between the start of the summer and the end of year due to the fall off in fundraising during summer months. Our current goal is to end the year with all bills paid and at least $500,000 in our account.
On a side note, I read with amusement this week a Democratic blogger comparing the balances of the Republican Party of Texas’ bank account with that of Texas Democratic Party (TDP) and Battleground Texas (BGTX). While they correctly pointed out that the RPT had many times the amount of cash that the TDP had, they incorrectly asserted that BGTX had more money than the RPT as of June 30. This claim is 100% false. BGTX reported approximately $600,000 cash on hand at the end of the reporting period whereas the RPT, at the end of June, had over $1 million total cash on hand in all of its accounts. The Democratic blogger only looked at the TEC reports for one of our accounts. He either forgot, or didn’t know, that the RPT maintains multiple accounts and that most of our money is kept in our federal account, which is reported to the FEC and not the TEC. The RPT actually had more cash on hand than BGTX and TDP combined.
Also important to note is that the RPT does not carry any debt or payables at the end of every month. The TDP carries payables forward month to month rather than pay their bills to $0 as we do. The Democrats also like to boast that their new group (BGTX) has over 3000 contributors, but what they didn’t point out was that 76.5% of all their money came from just 40 contributors, some of which are not even individuals but rather are unions, PACs, and campaigns. Their small contributors only accounted for a little over a quarter million dollars. The RPT typically has approximately 60,000 contributors per 24 month cycle and the vast majority of these are small donors. Thus the RPT over the last three years has continued to be in solid financial shape as a result of the tens of thousands of grassroots activists and major donors that have generously contributed to the Party. The RPT has brought in more than $13 million in revenues over the last three years. I would like to thank each and every one of you that has helped keep the Party financially healthy.
There has been a great deal in the press on the Democrats’ efforts to target Texas for the 2014 and 2016 elections, but what has been missed by the press in recent months is that Democrats have stirred up a hornets’ nest within Republican Party ranks. As word of the Democrats’ efforts and activities have spread within Republican circles, GOP activists have started to get off their sofas and are turning out for training seminars and organizational meetings in numbers that I have never seen before. The fact that in July, in an off year, hundreds of people have turned out at each of my last several appearances and training sessions has been remarkable considering we do not typically see these kind of numbers in the summer months of an off year. I have no doubt that the combination of our new Victory centers, engagement staff, and renewed enthusiasm of our base sets us up for another clean sweep of the statewide offices in 2014 and will allow us to maintain majorities of the Congressional Delegation as well as the Texas House and Senate. However we should take nothing for granted and each one of us must continue to give our maximum efforts between now and 2014.
Stephen Munisteri, Chairman
P.S. On a personal note, some sad news came in July. Ronald B. Dear, who was the Executive Director for the Reagan Texas Presidential Primary upset in 1976, passed away. I have written several times about how the 1976 Reagan leadership changed the state and the nation and Ron was a very big part of that.