The Race for Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas

Earlier today I sent the following letter to the members of the State Republican Executive Committee announcing my candidacy for Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas:

Many were surprised by last week’s news that Tom Mechler was stepping down as our Chairman. He was absolutely right that it is a tough, demanding job. We cannot keep the GOP’s position as the guardian of our state’s conservative values without a vigorous and sustained effort.

This is a critical time for the Texas Republican Party, with the Democrats being energized and organized in a way we have not seen before. Make no mistake about it, we will need a lifelong conservative to help lead our Party to a brighter future, and someone who has earned the trust of the grassroots and base of our great party, as well as someone who can constructively work with all party leaders and elected officials.

I am honored and humbled by the number of people who have raised my name as a potential candidate to be our next Republican Party of Texas Chairman. Having attended most of the SREC meetings this past cycle as a guest and discussing with several members the qualities needed to lead our Party in the future, it is my pleasure to announce that I am indeed a candidate.

Serving as Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas is a formidable responsibility. In partnership with the Executive Committee, our next chair will have less than six months to prepare for the start of the 2018 election cycle, where it is critical that we build on our successes from 2016 and re-engage with our base in the areas where we are still not living up to their expectations. We must hit the ground running.

As a Precinct Chairman, a volunteer on numerous campaigns, a Delegate and Alternate Delegate to numerous state and national Republican conventions, and a County Chairman, I have a long and proven track record of working for the benefit of the Republican Party and successfully promoting our conservative values.

We’ve made tremendous strides in Travis County – one of the most challenging areas of our state. During my time as county chair, we:

  • Retained our partisan elected positions,
  • Added two conservative members to an infamously liberal city council,
  • Raised over $350,000, including $100,000 in just the past few months,
  • Added a permanent office and two paid staff members,
  • Defeated over $2 billion in wasteful and poorly structured bond issues, and
  • Reached tens of thousands of voters with improved data and phone banking systems and strategies.

My success in these areas has been a direct result of my focus on building a collaborative environment where all conservative voices in our Party can voice their opinions and work together to advance our common goals with mutual respect. We may not always agree, but as the Party of the Big Tent it is critical we listen to each other and work together in good faith. It is the only way we can grow, sharpen each other, and build on our success.

The Chairman is responsible for providing the tools and environment necessary for the Party to grow and increase its impact. With the Travis County Republican Party we made the most of the technology and data available through the RPT and others to improve our results. As Chairman I would ensure that those tools are improved, expanded, and along with the necessary training, rolled out to county parties all over Texas.

In addition to the urgent need to recruit, train, and support great campaign staff and candidates, the Party has crucial legal responsibilities for the management of the primary elections and the filing of numerous federal, state, and corporate ethics reports. I have the experience of building a great team that can ensure those are managed properly so that our volunteers can focus on winning and keeping Texas red — and making it even redder!

As the primary spokesperson for the Party, the Chairman is also responsible for representing and championing the positions of the Party as reflected in its platform and candidates. I’ve spoken and debated dozens of times on TV, radio, and in newspapers to champion the Republican cause. I’ve also rallied support and sent thousands of communications during numerous difficult legislative fights, including 2013’s HB2 ban on abortions after 20 weeks and 2017’s SB6 privacy protections.

This year alone I testified in favor of multiple RPT Platform items including Constitutional Carry and Property Tax Reform and recruited others to do so as well. As RPT Chair I would expand training and communications around the platform and legislative priorities so that Texas will continue to be a beacon of freedom, virtue, and growth for the entire country.

One of the critical ways I have demonstrated that I can perform the many complex duties of Party Chairman is by ensuring that each committee member knows that their position is heard in an atmosphere of mutual respect and fair dealing. Doing so builds an environment of trust that earns more commitment and achieves better outcomes.

I’m ready and have the experience to get to work with you to make the Republican Party of Texas as great as America needs it to be. Now more than ever America needs a strong and vibrant Texas Republican Party to paint with bold colors.

I believe I am uniquely qualified to lead us into the future we so eagerly seek, and I ask for your vote for Chairman at the June 3rd SREC meeting.

Sincerely,

James R. Dickey

President Trump’s Inauguration Speech

Trump’s inauguration speech, like so many things in life – and especially non-specific political pronouncements, is a Rorsach test. People’s reactions to it are much less about what was actually said than they are about us, our ideological positions, and the subtext we read into the words because of what we’ve seen and heard from Trump and others in the past.

If you doubt that, check the actual text of the speech:

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.

Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.

We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.

Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth.

Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s Capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.

This is your day. This is your celebration.

And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Everyone is listening to you now.

You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.

Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves.

These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one nation – and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.

The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry;

Subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military;

We’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own;

And spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.

We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.

The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.

But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future.

We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power.

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.

From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

I will fight for you with every breath in my body – and I will never, ever let you down.

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.

We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.

We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.

We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.

When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

The Bible tells us, “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.

When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.

There should be no fear – we are protected, and we will always be protected.

We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger.

In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.

We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action – constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.

The time for empty talk is over.

Now arrives the hour of action.

Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.

We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.

A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.

It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.

So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:

You will never be ignored again.

Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams, will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together, We Will Make America Strong Again.

We Will Make America Wealthy Again.

We Will Make America Proud Again.

We Will Make America Safe Again.

And, Yes, Together, We Will Make America Great Again. Thank you, God Bless You, And God Bless America.

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.