Chairman's Update - October 2011 Report
Last month's theme was "Miles and Miles of Texas" and if we had to pick a theme song for this month, it would be a remix of "Miles and Miles of Texas". As I reported in September, I drove approximately 3100 miles that month while visiting our clubs and organizations across Texas. In October, I drove approximately 3400 miles to meet and visit with grassroots Republicans as GOP clubs and Republican activities start to heat up for the fall.
During the first week of October, I had the privilege of being the emcee at the Denton County Republican Party Golf Tournament fundraiser. Denton County Chair Dianne Edmondson hosted an impressive event that raised a significant amount of money for the local party. Next, I traveled to Houston to speak before the Houston R Club, a Republican organization primarily composed of young professionals. The following day, I drove to North Texas, traveling to Weatherford to speak to the Parker County Executive Committee. They had an enthusiastic group, led by County Chairman Zan Prince. I was pleased to also see SREC member Rena Peden at the event. From Weatherford, it was back to Austin where I had an opportunity the next day to visit with longtime Republican activist and pastor Bob Long. In addition just to catching up with Bob, I wanted his input on whether there was anything that the RPT Volunteerism Committee could do to help the Bastrop community which was ravaged by the wildfires. Bob has been putting in countless hours helping his community, which has been hard hit by the devastation of this tragedy - we had a great meeting.
The following week started off with a trip to Garland, where I spoke to the Greater Garland Republican Organization. State Representatives Angie Chen Button, Kenneth Sheets, and Cindy Burkett were in attendance. I was pleased to see our Republican state legislators taking such an interest in the local Republican party - all three of those representatives represented their districts well during the last session. The following day it was back to Austin, to attend the annual Texas Alliance for Life dinner. SREC member Davida Stike is President of this pro-life organization. The ballroom at the Hilton hotel was completely full and I was told that there was over 1500 people in attendance.
The remainder of the week was spent traveling to Washington, D.C. to meet with the Texas Republican Congressional delegation. Congressman Lamar Smith invited me to address the group and I provided them an update on the party's activities, a status report on the party's financial and organizational status, our preliminary plans for Victory 2012, as well as my views on the long-term challenges facing the party. It was also my hope to establish a significant working relationship between our Congressional delegation and the RPT, and to ensure that the party is helping to promote the conservative agenda in Washington. I also requested the Congressional delegation's assistance in raising money for the party. I received numerous pledges of support, and look forward to working with our Congressional Republicans to bring a stronger party together.
The Congressmen I had a chance to visit with were: Joe Barton, Kevin Brady, Dr. Michael Burgess, Francisco Canseco, John Carter, Mike Conaway, John Culberson, Blake Farenthold, Bill Flores, Louie Gohmert, Kay Granger, Ralph Hall, Jeb Hensarling, Sam Johnson, Kenny Marchant, Michael McCaul, Pete Olson, Ted Poe, Pete Sessions and Lamar Smith. We also agreed to set up working meetings between our staff and the chiefs of staff of the Congressional offices. It is my hope that in the next couple of months that we can arrange a meeting between my political staff and most of the chiefs of staff of the Texas Congressional offices in Washington.
The following week, I had a chance to travel back out to the country for an event at the Bosque Republican Club which was held at the Texas Safari Ranch. This event had a big turnout, some great BBQ and I was pleased to learn that Republicans are doing very well in the county and that there is a great deal of activism. In attendance were Senator Brian Birdwell and Representative Rob Orr and Appellate Court Justices Tom Gray and Rex Davis were also present. The Club presented a $500 donation for the RPT and 14 members gave pledge cards for the Grassroots Club raising that club's total participation to 27 members.
Also last month, we had a meeting of the Officials Committee and they approved the proposed VIP registration packets and early hotel registration for the convention, as well as confirming new county chairman in the state. Hal Talton, Convention Committee chairman, also gave an update to the Officials Committee on the status of picking a prime contractor for the convention and contract negotiations connected thereto. Hal indicated that he anticipated that the convention committee will be in a position to recommend a vendor to handle the overall production of the convention along with proposed contracts for the SREC to review by the December meeting.
The next day, David Zapata (our new Outreach Director) traveled with me to the Valley, to speak to the Cameron County Executive Committee. I was expecting 40-50 people, and was pleasantly surprised that 280 people showed up. County Chair Frank Morris emceed and SREC member Humberto Zamora sponsored the event. SREC member Norma Tovar also was there and I had a chance to visit with her. In addition to giving the keynote address, I had the pleasure of handing out awards to precinct chairmen being honored for their service. At the conclusion of the evening, Frank presented me with a beautiful metal elephant and crystal ball that has an elephant etched in it, which now adorn my office and you can observe on my coffee table if you come visit me. I would like to thank the Cameron County GOP for these beautiful gifts. While I was down there, David and I had a chance to visit with numerous party leaders, who emphasized to us not only the importance of the Valley, but also continuing our outreach efforts in the Hispanic community. David Zapata plans to follow up with several of the individuals as part of his ongoing efforts to expand the GOP's reach.
That weekend, I had a chance to attend a reception with Speaker John Boehner, at which Congressmen Pete Olson, Ted Poe and Michael McCaul were in attendance. Speaker Boehner outlined deficiencies in the Obama administration's policies and reiterated his support for the free enterprise system.
I closed out the month by attending a center-right coalition meeting in Austin and attending a luncheon for RPT staff, hosted by our Chaplain Rex Johnson. Pastor Johnson generously sponsored a luncheon at the University of Texas Club for RPT staffers as his way of saying "thank you" for the work that they do for the party. I agree with him that the RPT is particularly fortunate to have our current staff, and we are all grateful to him for his generosity in providing lunch.
The month of October saw a revamped and relaunched website for the New Texas Forum. The New Texas Forum is the student magazine put out by our Youth Director Nick Carona, with the help of numerous college students across Texas. The new website not only features the magazine, but also numerous articles and news items from around Texas and the country. You can view the new website by visiting www.NewTexasForum.com. We plan to distribute thousands of hard copies of the magazine around campuses over the next month.
The focus of the rest of the staff has been on preparing for the filing period, which begins November 12th. Just yesterday on October 31st, an RPT representative testified in front of a three-judge Bexar County panel to explain the ramifications of changing filing deadlines. The Court's inquiry has us nervous that there is a possibility that they may alter filing deadlines and/or districts, which if they do, could cause numerous problems. We will continue to monitor the situation and update you all on any changes that the court makes.
On the financial front, our Grassroots Club reached its goal of 1000 signups during the first year as reported in the last update. We have now set a new goal of reaching 1200 by the end of this calendar year. The most current numbers are that we have had 1115 people signup for the Grassroots Club since its inception. Please help us recruit another 85 by December 31st! You can obtain more information by going to www.GrassrootsClub.com.
The rest of the financial news for the RPT is mixed. While direct mail contributions are up over the end of the summer, they are still less than the average month, which we believe is due in part to the increased competition from the campaigns. Also, because most of our elected officials are running for office, they are not available to host fundraisers, so we do not have the opportunity to raise as much money this way as we did last year. Fortunately, we've been able to make up for some, but not all, of the projected revenue that we would receive from fundraisers by arranging meetings with large donors. We've been successful in signing up several new members to the Chairman's Circle, which has kept the party in a sound financial position so far. However, it is anticipated that we will have no more significant direct mail fundraising prior to next year, and this combined with not having any fundraisers scheduled, will probably result in a couple of hundred thousand dollar decline in the party's cash balances by the end of the year. Currently, we have approximately $762,000 total cash on hand, of which approximately $674,000 is in non-dedicated funds after all bills and payroll are paid to zero, and after the November rent is paid. We paid our bills to zero at the end of the month as usual. October marked the 11th month in a row that we ended the month with zero liabilities.
In conclusion, unless the courts change our filing deadlines, the 2012 election season will begin with candidate filing which will be from November 12 - December 12. If you are a candidate for either statewide office or a multi-county office, you need to file with the state party. With filing deadlines just around the corner, I anticipate that we will have numerous contested primaries and a very active election season. Our primaries are where we as Republicans can express our choice for a candidate as I will assume that most Republicans will vote for a Republican candidate in the fall. Therefore, the primary process is a vital part of our party's life and I encourage everybody to participate. However, once the primaries are over, it is very important that Republicans put aside any differences that might arise during the primaries, unite behind our nominees and focus on beating the Democrats in the fall - especially Barack Obama.