Steve Munisteri was elected Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas on June 13, 2010 at the Republican State Convention in Fort Worth, Texas. Munisteri defeated the incumbent State Chairman, Ms. Cathie Adams. The race originally had three candidates; Ms. Cathie Adams, Chairman Munisteri, and Tom Mechler. The Nominations Committee originally voted 13 votes for Munisteri, 12 votes for Adams, and 6 for Mechler. On the second ballot, the committee voted 22 for Munisteri and 9 for Adams. Ms. Adams challenged the recommendation of the Nominations Committee which resulted in a floor vote for the Chairmanship. Prior to the floor vote Tom Mechler withdrew from the race and endorsed Munisteri. The floor vote resulted in Munisteri winning 59%-41%. Munisteri’s election marked the first time in modern history that a challenger defeated a sitting incumbent at the state convention. Munisteri was reelected in June 2012. Out of the 9,000+ delegates registered at the time of the 2012 convention vote only one voted against him.
Upon his election, Munisteri initially focused on the Party’s financial difficulties. He inherited liabilities in excess of $700,000 and the Party’s liabilities exceeded the Party’s assets by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Munisteri then initiated a series of structural and financial reforms, including the elimination of some positions, renegotiating contracts, restructuring the Party’s debt, and budget cuts which resulted in reducing its monthly obligations from approximately $139,000 per month to a little over $90,000. These financial reforms, combined with aggressive fundraising and establishing a “Debt Busters Committee” to retire the Party’s past debts, resulted in the paying off all liabilities to $0 by the end of November 2010. The party has continued to be debt free since that time and has now adopted a policy to pay down all invoices to $0 by the end of each calendar month. The Party has also maintained cash reserves of at least $500,000 since November 2010. During the first three years of Munisteri’s Chairmanship the Party has brought in approximately $14.7 million, including approximately $6.7 million in 2012 alone.
The Party’s improved financial condition allowed the RPT to be a major player in the 2010 and 2012 elections. In 2010 the Party undertook a “Texas Truth Tour” around the state in support of key representatives and candidates in competitive races, maintained numerous websites on Democratic candidates, and organized a large volunteer force called the Texas Trailblazers. This included, among other things, organizing three weekends of statewide block walk operations. This resulted in the Republican Party electing 500 more office holders in 2010 compared to 2008. Moreover, 75 additional office holders switched party in 2010 for a net gain of 575 between the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. In 2012, the State Party exclusively ran the Victory operations for the first time in years, resulting in the Party making 2.6 million calls and sending out over 3 million pieces of mail. The Party also gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct contributions to candidates for the first time in many years. All totaled the State Party spent $2.2 million on its election efforts in 2012. This resulted in the election of a record number of Republicans in 2012 as well. Republicans held 220 more offices at the end of 2012 then they did prior to 2012, and have added an additional 33 since November as a result of party switchers. Today there are currently 867 more Republicans in elected office than at the end of the elections in 2008. This bring us to a total of 3,262 Republican officeholders across the state.
During his terms as Chairman, Munisteri has also adopted a policy of complete transparency as opposed to prior administrations where a significant portion of SREC meetings were held in executive session. Through the first three years of Munisteri’s chairmanship the SREC has not gone into executive session once. In addition, party leaders and activists are also provided regular monthly updates and financial information.
Since his election, Chairman Munisteri has added a full time Youth Director, Outreach Director, and Political Director. The Party has also initiated an aggressive outreach program to the Hispanic, African American, and Asian American communities which has resulted in a significant increase in the number of minority delegates to the state convention, a significant increase in the number of minority members of the SREC, and an increase in the number of minority Republican elected officials statewide. In 2012 the number of Hispanic Republican elected officials statewide increased from 58 to 78.
In June 2013, Chairman Munisteri announced a partnership with the RNC to establish Victory Centers that will operate on a year-round basis and that the Party would be hiring significant number of new field staff for these offices, including staffers assigned specifically to outreach to the Hispanic, African American, and Asian American communities.
Prior to being elected as Chairman of the RPT, Munisteri was very active in Republican and conservative politics. He began working as a volunteer in Republican campaigns in 1972. His first campaign activity was as a block walker for Hank Grover. Since 1972 Munisteri has worked in over 70 campaigns including working for Presidential candidates in Iowa, California, New Hampshire, Florida, and South Carolina. Munisteri has also been active in the Party since an early age serving as precinct chair of two precincts in Harris County (133 and 213), from 1981-1987. He was also a member of the State Republican Executive Committee from 1984-1986. Munisteri became very active in the conservative movement having first formed a conservative club at Memorial High School in Houston before going on to become the State Chairman of Texas Young American’s for Freedom (YAF) from 1977-1980, a member of the National YAF board, founding Chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas, and State Chair of Young Texans for Reagan during the 1980 presidential campaign.
Munisteri grew up in Houston, Texas where he attended public school from elementary school through his graduation from Memorial High School. He then obtained a BBA in Finance with Honors from the University of Texas in 1979 before going off to earn a Juris Doctorate of Law from the University of Texas Law School in 1981.
Upon graduation from law school he obtained an associate position with the Insurance Defense firm Funderburk and Funderburk. After 13 months at Funderburk and Funderburk, Chairman Munisteri founded the law offices of Stephen P. Munisteri on November 1, 1982 as a one person operation. He built the firm up to a 49 employee, 20 attorney firm which he agreed to sell to a group of his employees in 2004. The sale was completed in 2008 and Munisteri retired at the end of that year. Munisteri has also owned several side businesses, including Munisteri Exploration, which is an investment vehicle for investing in wildcat oil and gas projects. Munisteri has participated in the development of oil and gas projects since 1989 and has participated in the drilling of approximately four-dozen oil and gas wells, most of which have been successful. Munisteri also owned a sports management promotion company which he retired from in 2009. He also owns a property company although he divested himself of its primary asset, a Greenway Plaza area office building, in 2007 just prior to his retirement.
Munisteri currently works full-time as a volunteer Chairman for the Republican Party of Texas.