Chairman's Update - August 2011 Report
With the legislative sessions over and the 2010 elections well in our rear view mirror, it was time in August to begin serious planning for the 2012 elections. Consequently in August, I assigned our Political Director Travis Griffin the task of preparing a preliminary budget for our Victory 2012 operations, a campaign plan, and a timeline. With input from myself and Executive Director Jesse Lewis, Travis was able to complete the task, which I expect will now be the framework for further discussions with our elected officials regarding our efforts for 2012. We have already began the search for a new statewide Victory chair, and it is my hope to be able to announce within a couple of weeks who that new Victory chair will be once a few final details are worked out. It has been my goal that we begin Victory operations no later than a year before the elections. Now, it is looking increasingly possible that we may be able to launch Victory by late September or early October this year. Last election cycle, Victory was launched approximately five months before the election so it appears as though we will be about eight months ahead of last election cycle. Additionally, it is our expectation to raise two to four times what we did last election cycle because we will be starting much earlier. This will translate into more help for our targeted counties and our candidates. Prior to finalizing the Victory plan, I expect that we will hold conferences with our county chairs and party leadership to solicit their input as to how to improve the program and where we should target resources. Travis has compiled a preliminary list of 20 races which we anticipate will be the most highly contested. It is my hope that this early targeting will increase our chances of Republican victories.
Also during the month of August, I had extensive conversations with the leadership of our Convention Committee as well as attending the August 25th convention committee meeting in Austin. I am pleased to report that Hal Talton, who chairs the committee, has done an excellent job to date and that in consultation with myself and our staff, his committee already has a preliminary budget and schedule to present to the officials' committee, and later, the full SREC for approval. The only glitch so far, is that we still have not selected a company to be the overall convention coordinator. We have been in negotiations with one, but not agreed on price yet. Fortunately, we have several other companies as backup and if we select one in the next month or two, RPT will still be months ahead of last cycle's convention planning.
This past month, I also spent time making fundraising pitches to numerous business leaders that Senator John Cornyn graciously arranged for me to meet. These meetings generated tens of thousands of dollars for the party, which helped to offset the expected cash drain from the summer months when we normally don't do any significant fundraising. We are very appreciative and thank Senator Cornyn for his assistance. The end result, is that as of August 31st, we had approximately three-quarters of a million dollars, total cash on hand after we paid all our bills to zero, of which, approximately $673,000 was in non-dedicated accounts inclusive of the Rainy Day Fund. As you will recall from my previous updates, it was anticipated that our cash would fall to about $500,000 at the end of the summer so we ended up surviving the summer in better condition financially than we thought we would. This was helped in part by an increase in the Grassroots Club from under 500, prior to the start of the summer, to our current level of 762. We established a goal of signing up 1000 members of the Grassroots Club prior to the end of this year. While we have a ways to go, this goal is now in sight. If you haven't already signed up for the Grassroots Club, please do so by clicking here so that we can meet our goal by the end of the year!
As we have previously reported, SREC member Clint Moore has been working on behalf of the RPT to complete the project of drafting a revised national delegate selection process which will comply with RNC rules, thereby preventing our delegation from being penalized one-half of our delegates. Please refer to the previous story on the topic for more specific details.
RPT Training sessions continue in force - last month, we held a very successful school where 100 attendees joined us for a two-day Campaign Leadership Program. My staff and I continue to plan more of these types of training events around the state for upcoming months so that our candidates, campaign managers and volunteers can have the tools and knowledge to have a maximum impact in the 2012 elections. For a full recap on the Campaign Leadership program, please see our previous report.
I also had a chance in August to attend the Texas Alliance for Life Leadership Circle luncheon at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin. At the meeting, the Alliance for Life presented Speaker Joe Straus the "Courageous Defender of Life" Award. We also heard from Dr. Joe Pojman who provided an update on the significant gains from the Legislative session, and SREC member Davida Stike, who is President of Texas Alliance for Life and provided an update on the group's activities.
Also this past month, I had an opportunity to meet with Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and update him on the party. He also generously agreed to renew his Chairman's Circle membership with a contribution of $25,000, as well as providing $5,000 to our Volunteer of the Year dinner. The Volunteer of the Year dinner is scheduled for Friday, September 30th in Austin. That event is chaired by SREC member Leslie Recine.
There were some opportunities to travel the state last month to represent the party and I was pleased to be able to drive down to Tomball to speak to the Yellow Rose Republican Women's Club on August 16th. I also traveled to Tyler to meet with contributors and local GOP leadership. During the last week of August, I spoke to the center-right coalition here in Austin and provided them an update on party activities, and attended events featuring Congressman Michael McCaul. In between these travels, I was able to represent the party on numerous radio talk shows across Texas.
Some staff changes and additions have been in the works here at RPT. Nick Carona has been elevated from part-time to full-time hours, and will be working as the Voter Vault coordinator, our new Youth Director and Organization Assistant to Beth Cubriel. Our previous Youth Director Austen Bailey left to take a job with State Representative Paul Workman and we wish him well in this new role. We also have hired a new Outreach Coordinator, David Zapata, who is coming on board the first full week of September.
This past weekend has been a sober reminder of our state's dire need for rain. Many thousands of our neighbors are displaced or have lost homes to the devastation of this disaster. Please keep the affected families and firefighters of Texas in your thoughts and prayers as Texas continues to experience wildfires and drought across so much of the state, and pray that the life-giving rain will return soon to our state.