Chairman's Update: October 2012 & Election Preview

Yogi Berra once said, "It feels like deja vu all over again." For me, that saying is the best way to describe the month of October. Two years ago, I spent most of October criss-crossing the state to encourage Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts and to campaign on behalf of our candidates, and the same is true this year. Last election, we had a significant number of toss-up races in the Texas House and a couple of very close Congressional races and the same is true this year. Last election, our base was fired up to try to defeat the Obama agenda - in this election, our base is fired up to defeat Obama himself. Last election, we were focused on defeating Nancy Pelosi and retiring Harry Reid - in this election cycle, we are focused on keeping Nancy Pelosi fired and again trying to retire Harry Reid.

I began the month of October in Austin meeting with the RPT staff and planning out the final stages of our Victory campaign, including: preparing GOTV mail pieces, ensuring our Victory Centers were making hundreds of thousands of calls, targeting areas for paid phone banks and planning GOTV rallies around the state. Then it was on the road again to Williamson County where I spoke at the Williamson County Republican Women's Club in Round Rock. I then drove up I-35 to Hill County where I was the keynote speaker for the Hill County Republican Party Fall "Gumbo & Chili" fundraiser in Hillsboro with Representative Byron Cook and State Senator Brian Birdwell in attendance. I drove back home to Houston for a Victory fundraiser with Ted Cruz on Friday morning and followed that by blockwalking for Sarah Davis in House District 134 and also appearing at a fundraiser for Sarah that weekend.

I kicked off the next week at the Harris County Victory Center where I met with Harris County Chairman Jared Woodfill to discuss the status of Victory operations in Harris County, did some volunteer phoning myself, and met with staff and volunteers to ensure we were maximizing our efforts. Special thanks to SuZanne Feather and Kim Jessup for helping volunteer at the Harris County headquarters Victory Center and for securing volunteers who have made tens of thousands of calls. The RPT also assigned a full-time staff member, John Jackson, to assist with the Harris County center, and he was then replaced by another RPT staffer, Rachel Wilson, when John had to return to Austin for further duties. Prior to leaving Houston I attended a fundraiser for Judge Ken Wise. Judge Wise is a Harris County civil district court judge who I appeared before prior to retiring from the practice of law. He is one of our finest jurists, with a sharp legal mind and an even judicial temperament.

Then it was back to Austin for a day to attend a series of meetings. From there I went on to Lubbock County to help encourage GOTV efforts and be a guest at a Lubbock County GOP golf fundraiser that Thursday afternoon. Although I don't play golf, I had a chance to spend the day visiting with numerous Lubbock County GOP contributors at an outstanding event which was put together by Lubbock GOP County Chairman Carl Tepper. Carl also put together a debate watch party that evening featuring Special Guest Ted Cruz and a couple of hundred people turned out for what was a very successful event highlighted by Governor Romney's dominance of President Obama. Then it was back home to Houston for a couple of days prior to driving to Wichita Falls for the start of the next week. At Wichita Falls, I spoke to the Wichita County Republican Women's Club - it was a packed house at the luncheon that day and the club president Donna Long presented me with a check to the RPT which we sincerely appreciate!

Meanwhile, on that same day Victory Chair Ed Emmett held a fundraiser in Houston with former Senator Rick Santorum. I drove back home to Houston that night and spent the next day at a GOTV event sponsored by Conoco Phillips, at which I represented the Republican Party. That evening, I had a chance to attend a fundraiser for Harris County District Attorney nominee Mike Anderson. Mike is a seasoned prosecutor who I am confident will do a great job putting away the bad guys once he is elected. I had to leave the event early to host two statewide teleconferences - the first for party leadership and the second was a teleconference which we hosted with Senator John Cornyn with Texas grassroots activists.

From Houston, I traveled to Frisco to speak to the Frisco Area Republican Women's Club who generously donated a check to the State Party. In attendance were SREC members Jean McIver, Rena Peden and Candy Noble. From Frisco, it was on to Tarrant County to visit the Victory Center in Arlington. I had a chance to meet with SREC member Leslie Recine who is overseeing those Victory operations. They had a full phone bank, which is very encouraging. From there, it was back to Austin to attend the Texas Alliance for Life annual benefit dinner at the Hilton. SREC member Davida Stike is the President of that group and it was a sellout event with approximately 1200 in attendance. The following couple of days I had some fundraising meetings which were successful for the State Party. On that third Saturday of the month, I traveled down to San Antonio to blockwalk for Congressman Francisco Canseco and participated in a GOTV rally at the San Antonio Victory Center with Congressman Canseco and Senator Cornyn. They also put me to work at the Victory Center with the job of handing out pizza to the volunteers.

From there it was on to a quick trip home to Houston on Sunday where I blockwalked with Dianne Williams in House District 149 and met with her volunteers. Dianne is challenging incumbent Hubert Vo and her campaign has a real chance for an upset victory with a great campaign team working for her election. On Sunday evening, I traveled to Pasadena to meet with volunteers from the David Pineda campaign. David is an ex-Marine who is our nominee to replace Representative Ken Legler, who passed away unexpectedly. The Democrats are putting a real effort into taking that seat and have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so. If David can win, he will be one of the bright new stars of the Party! That evening, I drove back to Austin for a series of meetings the next day including an update from the National Romney team by teleconference. Although the specifics of that briefing are confidential, I can tell you generally that morale, confidence, enthusiasm and hope are high. It appears that voters are moving our way in the final days of the campaign.

The rest of the week was spent on GOTV rallies around the state. I drove to Arlington for a GOTV rally at the Victory Center with Ted Cruz and Dr. Mark Shelton. Dr. Shelton is a Republican state representative who is challenging ultra-liberal Democrat Wendy Davis in what is a Republican leaning district. Early vote total analysis that this is a toss-up race with Dr. Shelton having a real chance of winning. Democrats have poured in more than three million dollars into the Davis campaign, so we are outspent. But our volunteers are making up for that deficit with their enthusiasm and hard work. There were dozens of volunteers at the office for the rally and all are working extremely hard to elect Dr. Shelton.

From there it was on to lunch with Dallas County Chairman Wade Emmert, who is doing a fantastic job with his Victory program. Wade has raised a six-figure amount of money for Dallas County Victory efforts, which frees up State Party money to help out in other areas with funds that otherwise would have to go to Dallas. Wade gave me a briefing on his efforts and then, I accompanied him to the Dallas County GOP headquarters where I had a chance to see firsthand the tremendous effort that Wade is overseeing. The RPT was able to assist Dallas by paying for a staffer at the headquarters. Later that evening, I traveled to Flower Mound to speak at a fundraiser for Representative Van Taylor at the home of former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Chad Henning. Van is one of our rising leaders in the Party, has a record of achievement as an Eagle Scout, has been a Young Republican leader and is now a three-term legislator. He gave an impassioned speech promoting conservative Republican principles - however I have to confess that the highlight of the event for me was when Chad showed me his three Super Bowl rings!

At the end of the week, I participated in a three-city GOTV tour with Senator-to-be Ted Cruz. We started in San Antonio at the Victory Center with Francisco Canseco, then went on to a rally at Travis County Republican headquarters where Travis County Chairwoman Rosemary Edwards put together an enthusiastic crowd of Republicans, followed by a drive to Williamson County for a packed-house rally at the Tony Dale for State Representative headquarters. Tony is our nominee in a new Williamson County Republican district that has been considered a toss-up district - indications are that he is pulling ahead in that race. Then it was back to Austin for some meetings with elected officials the next day, followed by a four-stop GOTV bus tour in the DFW area put together by Congressman Pete Sessions.

The Dallas County rallies featured Congressman Sessions, Ted Cruz, Dallas County Chairman Wade Emmert and myself and we were able to visit early voting locations in Garland, Richardson, Dallas and Irving that beautiful morning. Congressman Sessions is Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee and he has been working hard to elect Republican Congressional nominees around the country, but this didn't stop him from paying attention to his home state and helping with local turnout. He has also been a great partner to work with in supporting Francisco Canseco and Randy Weber here in Texas, who are in tough battles of their own. After the four-stop tour, I drove to Tarrant County to visit the Tarrant County GOP headquarters where County Chairwoman Jennifer Hall has set up phone banks to support the Republican ticket, including people who are calling into other states for Governor Romney. Not only were the phone banks filled with enthusiastic volunteers, but concurrently, Jennifer's leadership team including Tarrant County GOP Vice-Chairman Brandon Moore, were holding training sessions for election volunteers. In addition to visiting with Jennifer, I had an opportunity to speak to her volunteers and I congratulate Jennifer on her hard work and efforts in Tarrant.

From Dallas, I returned to Austin for the last few days of October to again review with staff the status of our targeted races and the RPT efforts to assist candidates in those races. I can tell you that of the time of this update, the RPT volunteer callers have made over half a million phone calls and we expect by Election Day, that they will have called three-quarters of a million voters. The Party has also paid for professional phone banks to call another million people in targeted districts. In addition to this, the Party has put out hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail promoting straight party ticket voting in targeted areas, as well as individual candidatest in tossup races. We have also been able to deploy hundreds of volunteers to targeted races as a result of our Trailblazer program. In addition to all of this, the Party, because of its improved financial condition, has been able to donate several hundred thousand dollars to Republican candidates in targeted races.

As of the time of this email, there are fourteen races in the Texas House that we view as competitive. The number of Republicans that can be elected based on our analysis is between 87-101. To maintain our two-thirds majority in the Texas House, we would have to win 13 of 14 toss-up races, which is a tall order, but we will continue to give it our best efforts to win every district. Even though we currently have 102 legislators, of these only 99 were the result of the 2010 election and the other three were the result of party switching. In 2008, the Republicans only had 76 members of the Legislature and the previous record for Republian legislators prior to 2010 was 88 members. Thus, if we elect 89 or more Republican legislators, we will elect the second highest number of Republicans ever in Texas history. Realistically, any number north of 90 in the Legislature will be an excellent year for us, and I am hopeful that we will be able to accomplish this. On the Senate side, we will hold at least 19 seats, which is what we have now, and we have some chance of increasing our number. As noted earlier, the Dr. Mark Shelton / Wendy Davis race is particularly competitive.

On the Congressional side, we currently have 23 Congressmen. We added four seats through redistricting and originally, it looked like that we would have a good chance to win two or three of those, but because of court action the maps were redrawn. Under the original court-ordered map there was a chance that we wouldn't gain any seats. With the revised court-ordered map, it appears as though we could be anywhere from zero gains to two seats gained. As noted earlier, the Canseco and the Weber races are the most competitive. If we win both, we will increase our Congressional delegation to 25 Republicans. Even if we lose both, which we are hopeful that we will not, because of gains in other seats we will still be able to maintain 23 Republican Congressmen which would ensure that we have the largest Republican Congressional delegation in the country. Bottom line, we are very optimistic that the Republican Party of Texas will retain a solid majority of the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate, and that the Texas Congressional Delegation will maintain its strength. We are also confident that Ted Cruz will win his race. All in all, we are predicting a good Republican year in Texas. The only remaining question to be answered is whether it will be a great year.

On the financial front, the Party continues to pay all of its bills to zero by the end of every month. Despite spending over two million dollars to support our candidates through our Victory program and RPT assistance, we expect that after all bills are paid that the Party will still have in excess of three-quarters of a million dollars cash on hand to end the year, as a result of the last couple of months being particularly good fundraising months. In addition, Victory was able to collect $1,790,000 in funds for its efforts as of the time of this report. This ensured that the entire initial Victory plan was fully funded without the need of RPT funds designated for ongoing operations. Because Victory collected more monies than anticipated, the Victory operation was able to add on to its initial program, including: adding additional targeted mailings throughout the state, increasing our paid phone calls, supporting our Victory Center phone banks, etc.

Finally, let me say, that one of the primary reasons I ran for State Party Chairman was to ensure that the Republican Party of Texas was in excellent financial and organizational shape so as to ensure that we carry the state for the Republican Presidential nominee and defeat Barack Obama, elect as many Republicans to Congress as possible to keep Nancy Pelosi fired, and to elect our Senate nominee who turned out to be Ted Cruz, to try and retire Harry Reid. That's the reason why I ran. I feel collectively that all the grassroots, our elected officials, and our contributors have come together to make this result probable. Now it is up to the Romney team and the other states to help elect Governor Romney as President and complete our mission.

Texans have done their part here in the Lone Star State, as well as in other states where Dr. Robin Armstrong has organized volunteers from Texas to go to Ohio. Texan Pat Peel has organized Texans to go to Colorado - while there, they had an opportunity to meet with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus (see photo above). Meanwhile, Texas Tea Party leader Ray Meyer recruited additional members for the Mighty Texas Strike Force to go to Virginia and Ohio. Three weeks ago, his team worked in Virginia Beach, and as of this writing, they were in Cincinnati, Ohio getting ready to attend a rally with Governor Rick Perry, Senator Bob Portman, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney! They have been blockwalking and phone banking and their team leader is former Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones. Accompanying Ray are Bob and Kay Hall and Ray's wife Sonia.

I would urge everyone to give their maximum efforts over the next couple of days so that we have an exuberant Victory Party at the Houston Hilton on Post Oak Boulevard on Tuesday night. I hope you can join us for what I hope to be a celebratory night. And I thank you for everything that you have done. I am hopeful that we will wake up on Wednesday, November 7th to a new day in America.

Steve Munisteri, Chairman, Republican Party of Texas