Leadership

The Race for Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas

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

What Makes a Great County Chair?

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.

 

I am an Optimist

That’s why I was actually excited about moving to Austin to start the hard work of grassroots conservative activism here.

It’s why I gladly took on the tough job of growing the Republican Party in Travis county as Chairman.

It’s why I have faith that the hundreds of committed volunteers and staff in the Travis County Republican Party will continue to fight for a better Travis county every day regardless of who holds the Chairman position.

It’s why I can hope that the same press that ignored every opportunity to inform Republican voters when there was time to do so will learn from this experience.

It’s why I still hold out hope that Mr. Morrow – contrary to his own statements so far – will recognize that his duty to the neighbors who voted for him, and who are now his constituents, is more important than his fixation on faraway strangers on whom he can have no positive impact.

It’s why I can have some confidence that the thousands of hours that TCRP volunteers, staff and I expended to grow the party – reaching out and attracting more young people, minorities and those from across the Republican political spectrum – will not have been entirely made moot by the rash actions and statements of any one person.

And it’s why I’m sure that while my time in an official capacity with the TCRP will soon come to an end, I will find another way to serve my friends, neighbors and fellow Texans.

I look forward to that, and I’m grateful for all the amazing support and affirmation I’ve received over the past week.

My sincere thanks,
James R. Dickey