Texas Republican Executive Committee Overturns Delegates

This weekend the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) held their quarterly meeting in Austin. During this meeting the committee upheld a ruling of state party Chairman Tom Mechler, thanks to his tie-breaking vote.

The Ruling

His ruling was that the delegates to the state convention did not understand a rule change they passed, and therefore the SREC could simply ignore the written wishes of the convention.

Specifically, his ruling was that the wording the body passed that said:

  • “SREC Bylaws or Rules shall always be amendable by a majority of the entire membership, subject only to adopted notice requirements” somehow instead meant
  • “SREC Bylaws or Rules shall only be adopted by a majority of the entire membership at the organizational meeting which has no notice requirements”.

In other words, Chairman Mechler asked the SREC to agree that a majority of both the Convention Rules Committee and the convention delegates all voted to add an amendment that:

  • Said “always” when it meant meant “only once every two years”,
  • Got wrong the difference between amending an existing bylaw and adopting a bylaw for the first time,
  • Incorrectly assumed there was a notice requirement for bylaws decisions during an organizational meeting, and
  • Served no useful purpose at all since it only specified exactly what is already the default in Robert’s Rules of Order.

The Justification

The argument for that convoluted translation was that:

  1. The heading for that rule section is “Organizational Meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee”. Therefore, goes the argument, nothing in that rule section can have anything to do with any other meeting. That might be a good argument, except that the Texas Code Construction Act (Sec. 311.024. HEADINGS) says that “The heading of a title, subtitle, chapter, subchapter, or section does not limit or expand the meaning of a statute.” As shown above, most of the sentence has to be ignored or twisted – not only the obvious word “always” – to have the sentence make sense at all in reference to the Organizational Meeting, much less only in reference to it.
  2. The Rules Committee Chair, when presenting the amendment for vote, said, “The next amendment is in Rule 8C, on page 4 of your handout, which deals with the Agenda of the Organizational Meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee.” (Note: two sentences were added to 8C, and one of them did deal with the agenda, so that introduction was correct but incomplete.) Chairman Mechler said in his ruling that if no one objected to how the committee Chair described the proposed amendment, then the amendment should be construed to address only what was described, no matter how much you have to twist the amendment’s words to make that possible. At best this means that from now on someone must object to every single summarized rule change at every convention, or risk the SREC ignoring the written changes passed by the convention. At worst it means any state convention committee Chair can invalidate anything a committee has done that they don’t like by just failing to include specific mention of it in their brief summary.

Why This Matters

The important thing about this vote is not whether or not it’s a good idea for the SREC Bylaws to be amendable by a majority of the SREC body subject to notice requirements. It’s about whether the SREC recognizes that it only has whatever authority it is given by the delegates to the Republican Party of Texas Convention.

Sadly, a majority of the SREC thinks it is free to take whatever authority it wishes. Thankfully it is only the barest of majorities who thinks so. Hopefully with vigilance, further such actions will be kept to a minimum.

SREC Members Who Voted to Uphold the Convention Wording

SD 1 Sue Evenwel
SD 1 Dennis Cable
SD 2 Vicki Slaton
SD 3 Terry Holcomb
SD 6 Tammie Nielsen
SD 6 Chris McDonald
SD 7 Sarah Singleton
SD 7 Mark Ramsey
SD 8 Karl Voigtsberger
SD 9 Shelly Pritchard
SD 9 Steve Atwell
SD 10 Jeremy Blosser
SD 11 Tanya Robertson
SD 11 JT Edwards
SD 12 Debbie Terry [via proxy Mark Amick]
SD 12 David Halvorson
SD 13 Melanie Flowers
SD 13 Dale Gibble
SD 14 Jan Duncan
SD 14 Fernando Trevino, Jr.
SD 15 Gail Stanart
SD 15 Vergel Cruz
SD 16 Virginia Prodan
SD 16 Randall Dunning
SD 18 Michael Cloud
SD 19 Terri DuBose
SD 19 Scott Stratton
SD 21 Naomi Narvaiz
SD 23 Stephen Broden
SD 24 Randan Steinhauser
SD 25 Mark Dorazio

SREC Members Who Voted to Overrule the Convention Wording

Chairman Tom Mechler
SD 2 Jason Ross
SD 3 Judy Parada
SD 4 Melinda Fredricks
SD 4 Will Robbins
SD 5 Nita Davidson
SD 5 Michael McCloskey
SD 8 Candy Noble
SD 10 Merri Easterly
SD 17 Tina Gibson
SD 17 Marvin Clede
SD 18 Edee Sinclair
SD 20 Janie Melendez
SD 20 Samuel Dalton
SD 21 Michael Goldman
SD 22 Denise DeLara [via proxy Linda Hill]
SD 22 Chuck Wilson [via proxy Janet Jackson]
SD 23 Marian Phillips
SD 24 Jack Barcroft [via proxy Skipper Wallace]
SD 25 Linda Kinney
SD 26 Marian Stanko
SD 26 Fred Rangel
SD 27 Sharon Batterson
SD 28 Jane Cansino
SD 28 Drew Bullard
SD 29 Lisa Sprinkle
SD 29 Mark Dunham
SD 30 Deon Starnes
SD 30 Paul Braswell
SD 31 Rhonda Lacy
SD 31 Tom Roller

The letter from 77% of the convention Rules Committee members asking the the SREC to not do this

The full text of the RPT Rules

Full list of SREC members

Note – when the roll call is taken proxies are not mentioned. I’ve attempted to correctly reflect all proxies in my listing above, but I will of course update the list as I’m made aware of any others.

It’s Legislature Time in Texas!

Today was the first day to file bills for the next session of the Texas legislature. With session only going for 140 days every other year it’s always a rush. Fortunately our founding fathers put in a system that makes it very difficult to pass a bill and very easy to kill one. When we want reform that’s annoying, but it prevents a lot of bad ideas from becoming law, and that’s a good thing.

Whether you’re interested in getting a bill passed or killed, or just discussing an idea with your legislator, this panel featuring Texas Representative Jonathan Stickland, Senator Van Taylor, and Representative Matt Rinaldi offers some great tips on what to do and not do to further your cause:

Reflections on the 2016 Presidential Election

As I reflect on Tuesday’s election results, I am both proud and humbled.

Proud of:

  • The gracious and thoughtful words of both the President and the President-Elect the day after the election as they discussed the result and next steps in the transition.
  • Susan Narvaiz, Gabriel Nila, Ceasar Ruiz, Maura Phelan, Joe Martinez, Pat McCord, and Deke Pierce – who all stepped up to face incredibly long odds and longer hours in an effort to help make Travis county better for all.
  • Congressmen Michael McCaul, Bill Flores, Lamar Smith and Roger Williams, Railroad Commissioner-elect Wayne Christian, Justices and Justice-elects Debra Lehrmann, Paul Green, Eva Guzman, Mary Lou Keel, Scott Walker and Michael Keasler, State Board of Education Members Ken Mercer and Tom Maynard, who fought on to win their races in spite of not winning a majority of Travis county voters.
  • State Senator-Elect Dawn Buckingham, State Representative Paul Workman and County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, who overcame incredible odds to win their races in Travis county.
  • Justices Cindy Olson Bourland and Melissa Goodwin, who fortunately did not have to face an opponent, but who were willing to stand for (re)election and take that chance.
  • Austin City Councilman Don Zimmerman, who consistently fought for affordability and free enterprise in Austin.
  • The other local Republican candidates in races in which we could not endorse but who presented a real alternative to the voters in their city and board elections.
  • Travis County Republican Party’s staff, volunteers and Precinct Chairs who made tens of thousands of phone calls, walked thousands of doors, send thousands of mailers, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars, had hundreds of interviews and press appearances, and put in thousands of hours to offer a different, brighter future for Travis county.
  • The obstacles the Travis County Republican Party has overcome this year. They have been daunting, but this great group has faced and overcome them with grace and determination.

As proud as I am of what the Travis County Republican Party, its staff, volunteers, candidates and officeholders have accomplished, I am humbled by the challenges that have become so clear in the election and its aftermath, including:

  • A Travis county electorate in which President-elect Trump only received 28% of the votes.
  • Press and voters too often fixated on the Presidency when local and state races do – and should – have a much bigger impact on each person’s life.
  • Dozens of offices without a Republican officeholder or challenger.
  • Dozens of precincts without a Republican Precinct Chair.
  • Tens of thousands of Republican voters not yet involved with the Travis County Republican Party.

Those challenges present opportunities, though. Opportunities to improve, to grow personally, as a party and as a nation.

I pray we build on all the hard work and sacrifice that has come before and use those opportunities to produce a better Travis county for all.

May God bless and guide the United States, the great state of Texas, and Travis county this coming year.

 

If you live in Travis county and have not already done so, please sign up for the Travis County Republican Party’s email list so we can keep you informed year-round of local activities and opportunities to make a difference.

Good Local News Coverage for the Travis County Republican Party

It’s so great to be back to the point where the focus of the local news is on the good things happening in the Travis County Republican Party.

Time Warner Cable news published this story on the my election Tuesday night and the Travis County Republican Party moving forward to focus on supporting the amazing slate of candidates we have in this election.

Time Warner Cable on Election of new TCRP Chair

I also did a live piece last night on Fox 7 about what lies ahead for the party. I’ll add that as well once it’s available.

Moving Forward in Travis County

My Fellow Travis County Republicans,

After prayerful consideration and much encouragement, I have decided to seek election to serve the remainder of the term of the Chairman of the Travis County Republican Party.

I was honored to serve as your Chairman for two years. During those years we made great progress on several fronts.

Between June 2014 and June 2016 we:

  • Increased elected Republican officeholders in Travis county,
  • Decreased Precinct Chair vacancies by 25%,
  • Obtained and utilized improved data sources and voter contact tools,
  • Increased press interactions dramatically – and maximized the positive impact of each of those interactions,
  • Raised over $160,000, and
  • Reduced the party’s fixed overhead expenses.

To cap it all off, we also weathered an incredible storm, and did so with purpose and dedication that turned a frustrating experience into one that served as a wake up call and reminder that the Precinct Chairs are not just the heart and soul but the controlling force in the county party.

I would like to help sustain and advance on those gains. It is for that reason, that after talking to dozens of those in charge – the Travis County Precinct Chairs – I have decided to run for the open Chairman position.

I know firsthand the challenges of this position. I also know the lessons I learned during my term. I am human, and of course made some mistakes. Fortunately there are many others who also care for the party and are willing to help correct those. If you are one of those willing to help, I would love to work with you to make sure things are better in every way moving forward.

This is a time for experience and leadership. We have only 60 days until the fall election. We need to raise tens of thousands of dollars immediately. I am confident that I can do that. Our candidates need help now.

We need to further build the party now and plan and prepare for 2018, which will have many important local offices, including the Austin Mayor, on the ballot.

There is a lot of work to do. The party needs all hands on deck and every available resource. I believe that my experience, network and relationships with Precinct Chairs, elected officials, donors and volunteers is what the Party needs at this unique moment.

I welcome any questions you have and would greatly appreciate your support. Together we can keep moving forward.

What Makes a Great County Chair?

The first step in evaluating any candidate for any position is deciding what’s needed in the role, regardless of who fills the position.

After discussions with other County Chairs, thoughts on my term as Chair in Travis County, and input from activists, volunteers, candidates and Precinct Chairs from around the state, here’s the list of qualifications that I recommend:

  1. Raising Funds. It was true in 1966, and it’s still true today, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” The reality is that no matter how frugal you are, donations are needed to obtain the data, equipment, design, communication and other resources needed to run a party and win elections. The Chair must be willing and able to make the case to donors for the vision of the party, and through their management and results keep the confidence of those donors so that the needed funding can be obtained. This is first for a reason – it is an absolute non-negotiable requirement without which little else can happen.
  2. Maximizing Media Opportunities. The County Chair is frequently asked for input on the issues of the day by TV, radio and newspaper reporters. In every single one of those interactions the Chair has the opportunity to build up the party, minimize the damage to the party from a negative story, or make things much worse. Excellent press interactions maximize the impact of the donations received and the volunteer and staff efforts. Conversely, even a single large misstep in this area, at least for conservatives, is a self-inflicted wound from which it is almost impossible to recover.
  3. Managing an Election Impartially. In Texas a County Chair is the person legally responsible – and personally liable – for making sure the primary election is handled correctly: that the voting process is equally accessible, conducted in compliance with all laws, and completely unbiased toward or against any candidate. There cannot be any doubt at all that the Chair is in some way conflicted and likely to tip the scales on the part of any candidate no matter their personal preferences.
  4. Managing the Party’s Operations*. Setting and staying within a budget, recruiting and managing officers and staff, and ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Making sure the party benefits from the best possible team and that the team’s efforts are deployed in the most efficient possible manner. Removing distractions and obstacles that inhibit the team’s ability to accomplish the party’s goals.
  5. Growing the Party. There are many ways the Chair can and should do this, and just as many ways for them to accomplish the opposite. Of course this includes wise use of the best available data and voter outreach efforts, and handling press interactions positively. It also requires recruiting and supporting good candidates at the local level. But to benefit from any of that, the volunteer base must be built, which requires doing several other critical things well, including:
    • planning ahead, casting a vision and communicating that vision clearly so everyone knows what they should be doing, the point of attending the next meeting, and the ideas they have that the group needs to hear,
    • managing County Executive Committee meetings* so that it is clear that everyone is respected, all input is heard, and the Executive Committee’s wishes are implemented,
    • building confidence in and visibility of the party by attending as many as possible of the dozens of local organization and campaign meetings and events each month,
    • warmly welcoming new volunteers to the party,
    • having an efficient process and good follow up on plugging in new volunteers, and
    • involving as many people from as many different factions of the party as possible in committees and projects so that the party benefits from the widest possible group of available volunteers.

This list is designed to be applicable universally. The County Executive Committee has the ability to reassign some of these duties. If the Committee did, those duties would no longer be the Chair’s. The Chair has the ability to delegate some of the duties as well, but in that case, the Chair still remains responsible for ensuring they are done well.

I know that there were times during my term as County Chair when I fell short on meeting these standards. Fortunately I have fantastic family, friends and advisors who are not shy about calling me out when that happens, and I have and will continue to work to improve in all that I do.

What do you think? Was there a critical item I missed?

 

*Under the Travis County Republican Party’s bylaws enacted in June 2016, most of these are not duties or responsibilities of the Chair, but have instead been explicitly transferred to the Executive Vice Chair position. Your county’s bylaws will specify any similar exceptions, but the duties listed above are representative of the typical structure.

 

How to Get the Most from Facebook Live Streaming of Events

Facebook Live Streaming came out just before I attended the RNC National Convention this year. It was perfect timing because Facebook Live is a fantastic way to share with your friends any event you are experiencing.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned that can let you jump straight to great event Live Stream results:

  1. Live Stream Camera Tripod ExamplesIf your video is going to last more than a couple of minutes, use a tripod. Your viewers (and your arms) will thank you. When I can, I use a full size tripod since that gives more height and placement options. When I cannot use a full size tripod, a mini tabletop one still makes a huge difference. The Neewer Adjustable mini tripod I use sells on Amazon for around $6. No matter what tripod you use you’ll want a clamp to hold your phone on the tripod.Neewer Mini Tripod with Gosky Rotatable Smartphone Clip I really like the Gosky Rotatable Tripod Adapter for Smartphone, available for around $10. It offers multiple ways to mount your camera, allows for changing from vertical to horizontal without messing with the tripod, and can hold phones as big as the iPhone 6s Plus. The Neewer/Gosky combo is great to have available because even with the clip, when fully collapsed it can easily fit into most bags and be carried in most pockets.
  2. Even if you use a tripod, be sure to keep the phone near you. I’ve had videos interrupted by phone calls coming in for too long. It doesn’t seem to be a problem if I quickly decline the call though. Of course, make sure your phone is in silent mode, or the even better “do not disturb” mode before you begin broadcasting so you’re not embarrassed by incoming text or call sounds.
  3. Vertical Live StreamScreen CaptureUse your camera in vertical mode unless you must absolutely do otherwise. Because of how Facebook displays the videos, you’re better off panning the room with the camera vertical than you are filming the entire thing with the camera horizontal. If you film with the camera in vertical mode, the picture will fill the entire frame of your friends’ news feeds while they scroll through on their phones. Studies have shown the difference between vertical and horizontal video can result in as much as a 900% difference in interaction (views, comments, likes, etc.).
  4. Do what you can to make the audio as loud as possible. Ideally have the phone fairly close to either the person being featured on the video, or one of the speakers broadcasting the sound for the event. Sometimes for whatever reason you can’t do anything to improve it, but the quality of the sound makes a huge difference in people’s enjoyment of a video. It seems to help if I put the phone upside down on the tripod so that the phone’s microphone is facing upward toward the overhead speakers. The Facebook app rotates in response, so there’s no downside to doing so. Just be careful that you dot place the phone so that the clamp presses down on the volume or power-off buttons on your phone.
  5. Start a post in the Facebook application on the phone by clicking in the “what’s on your mind?” field at the top of your news feed – NOT by clicking on the Live video icon.
  6. Click on the button at the top of the page and set the audience you want for the video. Except in rare cases you’ll want the audience to be Public so that people can see and share your videos. One great tip while you’re first learning is to change the audience to “Only me” so you can practice without the world seeing your first couple of tries.
  7. Type in a good description of the event in the “What’s on your mind?” field so people can decide whether to watch the video and can find it when they search for related items. If your video is related to a trending hashtag that people will search for, use that in your description to increase the number of people who will find and watch your video.
  8. Click on the “Add to your post” line at the bottom of the screen.
  9. Use the “Tag friends” button to tag everyone you know who is at the same event with you. This will make it easier for your friends to find the video of the event they attended – and for them to share it if they would like (assuming you set the audience to Public). It will also increase the number of other people who will find and watch your video.
  10. Use the “Check in” button to add the name of the location where the event is being held. This will often get the location itself to share your video, and will make it so people searching Facebook for information about that venue will see your video as well.
  11. Now you’re ready to click on the “Live Video” button! It defaults to bringing up a selfie video (the app assumes you want to use the front facing camera on the phone). Click on the double arrow icon in the top right of the screen to change the app to using the rear facing camera (it will record a much higher quality video).
  12. Put the phone in the clip on the tripod and make sure the video picture is framed as you’d like, then click “Go Live”. The app will do a countdown and begin broadcasting live. You’ll see your friends comment and like your video as they find it and respond. (See great suggestions below about things you can do during the filming to increase viewership even more.)
  13. When you’re ready to stop broadcasting, click on the “Finish” button in the bottom right, then click not he little “save to phone” icon if you want to keep a copy of the video you made (which I recommend unless you just don’t have room on your phone’s memory to do so), and click on “Post”.

That’s it! Follow these simple steps and you’ll have a high quality video that dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people will see. Happy filming!

 

A friend and Facebook Live broadcaster extraordinaire added these suggestions, all of which are great ideas to keep in mind also:

I try to place my phone on the tripod in such a way that I can still type in the comments section to respond to questions asked during the broadcast (when wifi isn’t available for my computer).

There have been a few times I went “live” too fast to label anything. Thankfully, fb lets us edit the posts. When that happens, I try to explain in the comments what is going on.

Try to pan the room [slowly] at the beginning of the video to give the viewers a sense of the atmosphere.

I also learned that you can zoom in/out by using your fingers to pinch out/in. That may vary depending on your phone, though.

You can greatly increase views by adding a comment under the video asking people to share it while you’re broadcasting.

I have noticed that if someone messages me on fb messenger, I can respond to the message on my phone w/o interrupting the stream.

Travis County Republican Party Has A Chairman Vacancy

According to Texas Election Code Sec. 161.005: “To be eligible… to serve as a county or precinct chair of a political party, a person must… not be a candidate for… an elective office of the federal, state, or county government.”

Therefore, by filing last Friday to run for President, Robert Morrow simultaneously ended his term as Chairman of the Travis County Republican Party.
Travis county’s Precinct Chairs have done an excellent job managing an incredibly difficult situation this year.

I have every confidence that they will manage this additional transition every bit as well, and will be happy to do whatever I can to help them and the party.
The steering committee will undoubtedly now work to arrange to call a meeting so that the Precinct Chairs can elect a new County Chair. That meeting will need at least two weeks’ notice, so I’d expect to see news about the TCRP’s new Chair mid to late September.

Whoever they choose, this change will undoubtedly be a welcome boost for the local party just in time for the November election.

From the Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tom Mechler comes the following statement on the situation:

Austin- “In accordance with state law, upon filing as a write-in candidate for President of the United States on August 19th, 2016, Robert Morrow became ineligible to hold the office of Travis County Republican Chair. There is absolutely no place for rhetoric as distasteful as Mr. Morrow’s in the Republican Party of Texas. We are excited to move forward with the Travis County GOP and the new incoming Chair as soon as an election is held to fill the position.”

See also:
Morrow Application For President of the United States

My Comments on the RNC Convention Rules Committee Meeting

The RNC organized against any changes that would make the primaries in 2020 any more conservative and orchestrated the biggest shift of authority from the delegates to the RNC and its Chair in Republican Party history.

I’m proud to be part of the Republican Party of Texas where our delegates have been able to move things toward more accountability and decentralization instead.