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.

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.

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

Vote FOR Real Benefits, Not Against Progress

Austin voters have a choice to make – FOR Proposition 1, which would be a vote FOR:

  • More jobs
  • More transportation options – particularly in minority areas
  • Fewer drunk driving collisions and deaths
  • Shorter wait times alone on dark streets
  • Fewer attacks per driver
  • Lower costs

OR Against Proposition 1, which would mean a vote against all the above, plus:

  • Higher city expenses
  • More political donations to city council members
  • A huge signal to the world that Austin is not actually tech-friendly
  • A massive blow to the city’s attempt at winning a $50 million Smart City transportation grant
  • A false sense of security from the addition of new arbitrary requirements that have been proven to not prevent attacks

So, which will Austin voters choose? We’ll know by Tuesday evening, May 7 when voting closes. In the meantime, here’s my debate on the topic on Austin’s Fox Channel 7:

Why Did Gary Gates Lie?

Update

It’s entirely possible Gary Gates:

  • Didn’t lie – just made a baseless claim that was easily verifiable but didn’t bother to check before making a public statement, or
  • Didn’t make the post – this may have been the misguided posting of a staffer, and not a post by Gary Gates at all.

Either way it’s a shame that many hours later, after being shown the proof, he hasn’t retracted the false statement at all – much less with the same energy that he spread it. That’s not a good sign.

Original Post

Campaigns reveal the character of the candidates. These days, thanks to social media, that can happen quickly and more clearly than ever. That’s a very good thing for good candidates, and for voters who are paying attention.

Gary Gates, candidate in the Railroad Commissioner race in the Republican Primary Runoff against Wayne Christian, revealed at best a willingness to publicly say things with no proof. At worst he revealed outright opposition to truth.

The Central Texas Republican Assembly (CTRA) is a vibrant conservative grassroots organization in Austin that votes to endorse in regional and local races, and to record the group members’ preferences in larger races. At their August 21st meeting they held an endorsement vote.

Michael Quinn Sullivan shared the following post about the result of the vote in the Railroad Commissioner race:

Michael Quinn Sullivan tweet on CTRA Railroad Commissioner Runoff Race Vote

Rather than shake it off or respond well, Gary Gates decided to lie.

Gary Gates Lie About CTRA

So instead of taking the high road, Gary Gates decided to insult a large group of grassroots conservatives and make things up at the same time. Here’s the screen shot of the press release post from January that shows reality is the exact opposite of what Mr. Gates claims:

CTRA Press Release on Endorsement

With personal character and political instincts like these, it’s no wonder Mr. Gates has failed in his first six runs for office. Here’s hoping he fails again this time. This is exactly the kind of politician Texas doesn’t need.

The Wisconsin Presidential Primary Matters

Hillary Clinton only needs to win 35% of the remaining delegates to cinch her party’s nomination. Donald Trump needs 50% of the remaining delegates to win the Republican nomination outright.

With both Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz favored to win tomorrow’s Wisconsin primary, and the state set as winner take all by congressional district, Wisconsin might help make sure that things continue to be pretty interesting.

Update

Wisconsin Republican Primary ResultsIn the video above – recorded the day before the primary – I predicted that Cruz would likely catch up by a net 30 delegates in the primary. Here are the final results:

Of an available 42 delegates, Cruz won 36 and Trump won 6, for a net gain by Cruz of 30.

The Runoff is Coming!

Candidates crossing the finish line

Republican voters in Texas have at least three more choices to make in the 2016 Republican Primary Runoff Election.

The last day to request a ballot by mail is May 13. Early voting will be held May 16-20. Election day will be Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

Only 3.5% of registered voters participated in the 2014 Lieutenant Governor race Republican primary runoff. That means your vote in this runoff will carry 10-20 times the weight it would carry in a general election. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be informed and have a significant impact.

The Court of Criminal Appeals

The Court of Criminal Appeals is the supreme court for criminal issues in the state of Texas. This court, among other things, literally decides life and death issues in death penalty appeals cases. Two of the three statewide runoff races are for positions on this crucial 9-person court.

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 2

Mary Lou Keel – Harris county District Court judge for the last 20 years. Former Assistant District Attorney.

Ray Wheless – Collin county District Court judge for the last 15 years. Air Force veteran. Former prosecutor. Former private practice experience. Long history of involvement in the Republican party.

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5

“Scott” Walker – His real first name is Richard. He did not answer a single editorial board questionnaire or have a web site during the primary. Lost the lawsuit he filed to get out of credit card debt.

Brent Webster – Assistant District Attorney and General Counsel for the Williamson County District Attorney’s office. Actually campaigned for the job. Long history of involvement in the Republican party.

Railroad Commission

The Railroad Commission is the most powerful elected regulatory agency in the nation. It no longer has anything to do with railroads – it oversees the critical Texas oil and gas industry.

Texans elect three Railroad commissioners who operate independently of each other. There is an elected chairperson who has some administrative duties, but otherwise the three commissions have the same authority and responsibilities, and one of those positions is up for election this year.

Railroad Commissioner

Gary Gates – An apartment developer in the Houston area. Lost races for the Texas House of Representatives in 2002 and 2004. Lost the District 18 Texas Senate race in 2006, and lost a special election to Lois Kolkhorst in December 2014. No experience with/in oil & gas.

Wayne Christian – Served in the Texas House of Representatives between 1996 and 2012. Was involved in oil and gas regulatory and legal issues while serving on energy-related committees in the House. Former president of the Texas Conservative Coalition.

Texas Senate

Texas State Senate District 24 There are only 31 Texas State Senators, and there are 34 Texas members of the U.S. House of Representatives. So a Texas State Senator represents more Texans than their U.S. Congressman counterparts. It’s a big responsibility, with almost a million constituents per district.

In addition to the three statewide races above that apply to all Texas Republican voters, residents of Senate District 24 also have a runoff in their State Senate seat.

It’s a huge district, stretching from near San Antonio to Abilene.

Texas Senate, District 24

Dr. Dawn Buckingham – An eye doctor, trustee on the Lake Travis ISD School Board, vice chair of the State Board of Educator Certification, and the Lieutenant Governor’s appointee on the Sunset Commission.

Susan King – Served in the Texas House of Representatives from 2007 to 2015. Surgical nurse by training. Co-owner and co-director of Elm Place Ambulatory Surgical Center. Received fiscal responsibility grades ranging from F to C from Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.