Today I will be stepping down as Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. I will be presenting my final report to the SREC as to the status of the party. By way of this email, I am prodivding you, our grassroots supporters, a final report as well on where the party was when I was elected, where it is today, and where I hope it will go in the future. The following is a summary of what all of us together have been able to accomplish over the last five years.
I was elected on June 12, 2010. On June 18, the staff prepared for me a list of accounts payables which totaled approximately $605,000 in bills due. I was also told there was approximately $75,000 in outstanding bills from the 2010 convention that hadn’t been paid and was not included in our accounts payables. Moreover, my predecessor submitted a last minute invoice for $25,000 in past expenses.
We had several hundred thousand dollars cash on hand coming out of the 2010 convention, but unfortunately the party had a negative net worth of approximately $300,000. In other words, we were insolvent. $425,000 of the bills were 120 days old or older. To compound the problem, the direct mail fundraiser that was sent out just prior to my election actually lost money. In addition, I determined that the party was committed to spending approximately $139,000 a month in regular business expenses but that the regular sources of direct mail and telemarking could only be expected to bring in around $55,000 a month. There were no other regular sources of money. Moreover, we had to make a substantial draw down on the cash we did have to pay our overdue invoices, otherwise vendors would have stopped providing their services. In short, the party was in dire financial straits.
With the help of many major donors, elected officials, and 40,000 small contributors, we were able to raise enough money in five months to pay all liabilities to $0 by the end of November 2010 and still have $500,000 cash on hand. Since paying off the debt we have continued to pay all of our invoices in our possession to $0 at the end of every month and have maintained at least $500,000 in cash reserves since. Furthermore, for a substantial portion of the last couple years, we have maintained a balance around the $1,000,000 range.
Today, I will report to the SREC that I will be turning over the chairmanship with $959,514 cash on hand plus $148,175 in pledges coming, as well as $0 in liabilities. In other words, I will turn over the party to the new Chairman with over $1,000,000 either in the bank or on its way. All told, since June 2010 when I became Chairman through today the RPT has collected 22,839,611 in total revenues during my 4 years 9 months as Chairman. In 2014 alone, our most recent audit showed $7,798,117 in unrestricted revenues.
After the 2008 election, which was the last cycle prior to my being elected Chairman, Republicans held 2,395 of the 5,463 elected offices, or 45%, throughout the state. In 2008, we lost seats in the legislature and had a slim 76-74 majority in the State House. We also lost major counties such as Harris and Dallas, and our statewide candidates only averaged 52.94% of the vote, and the bottom of our ticket barely got over 51%.
Over the last three election cycles, we have set a new record each cycle for the total number of Republicans elected across the state and/or switched parties. Between November 2008 and 2010 we had a net increase of 575 Republican officeholders, an increase of 240 between November 2010 and November 2012, and an increase of 366 between November 2012 and 2014. Counting party switchers since that time, we now have 1,190 more Republicans in office today than when I was elected in 2010. Today there are 3,660 Republican officeholders around the state representing approximately 67% of all office in Texas.
One of the proudest accomplishments of my time as Chairman has been bringing the Victory operations back under the control of the RPT. For many election cycles, including when I first took over, Victory was set up as a separate distinct operation. Victory had its own offices, Executive Director, and the day to day operations were not under the State Chairman’s control but rather the Victory Chairman’s control. This situation occurred as a result of a loss of confidence in the party.
Starting in the 2012 cycle, the RPT took back control over the Victory operations and it was run out of the RPT headquarters, utilizing RPT staff. We had great Victory Chairmen during my time including Comptroller Susan Combs, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, and Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick. In 2012 and 2014, the new structure allowed the Victory Chairs to focus on raising money while the RPT staff handled the day to day functions of the program.
All told, we spent 6,414,883 on our Victory and field operations. During my tenure we sent out 10,201,811 pieces of mail and made 8,622,336 phone calls. We did not track our block walking numbers in 2010 or 2012 but our new technology allowed us to monitor these numbers in 2014, during which our volunteers knocked on over 500,000 doors.
In addition, during the 2012 and 2014 cycles we were able to mail seniors over the age of 65 who voted in Republican primaries, and added another half million who didn’t vote in primaries. In addition to mailing them, we continued to follow up by phone and tracked their vote by mail applications. In 2012 and 2014 we also mailed Republicans who had moved into the state since the previous election. In 2014 we mailed 137,000 households, representing approximately 250,000 Republicans, a “Welcome to Texas Packet”. We then followed up with phone calls and tracked their registrations.
The state party was sued throughout my terms numerous times over the redistricting disputes. At the end of the day, the party was not found liable for anything, and the maps that ultimately were put into place yielded us 98 Republicans in the State House out of 150, the second highest ever (we set the record of 102 during my first term in 2010); we increased our numbers to 20 Republican State Senators, tying the highest ever; and improved to 25 Congressmen, the highest ever.
In addition, our staff, County Chairs, and volunteers were forced, because of these lawsuits, to prepare for three different primary dates and for the first time in recent history we had to pick delegates to our state convention at precinct meetings disassociated from the presidential primary. In other words, we had the difficult task of picking delegates without voting locations at which to hold conventions. This was quite a challenge. Fortunately, we were able to adopt new rules on the fly and implement the new process with very short notice and were still able to turn out approximately 11,000 total people to our 2012 state convention, of which over 9,000 were delegates and alternates.
At the time I took over as Chairman there was not a specific engagement program or staff assigned solely to the task of engagement. During the past five years we have been able to establish robust Hispanic, Asian American, and African American engagement programs. Utilizing our engagement personnel, some of which are spread out across the state in field offices as well as having assistance from our auxiliaries, allowed us to capture a majority of the Asian American vote last year, to split or win the Hispanic American vote, and greatly improve our support among the African American vote.
We also established the position of fulltime Youth Engagement Director. Under the initial leadership of Rachel Wilson, now led by Abby Sinclair we established a new high school auxiliary, started a student newspaper, and assisted our youth auxiliaries across the state. This last election, Senator John Cornyn won the 18-29 year old vote and Governor Abbott split it evenly.
During my first term as Chairman, I completely revamped the format of our state conventions. Most of the recommendations came from the Convention Planning Committee chaired by Hal Talton. The end result is our new high quality production values, more entertainment, popular breakout sessions on a variety of issues, Grassroots Club events, etc. I expect future conventions to maintain the same level of production value and general format in order to increase the number of attendees to record levels.
I think it is important that the party ensures that the Victory operations continue to run under the auspices of the RPT. I also think it is important to continue our Victory operations throughout the year with fulltime staff in offices across the state. I also think it is important that the leadership of the party ensures that the party never goes back into debt, and that the grassroots activists should keep Republican leadership accountable. Our success in these last few elections proves that engagement works and we must continue to make it a priority that we reach out to all communities across the state.
My final piece of advice is this, the key to our success was WORKING TOGETHER WITH ALL FACTIONS OF THE PARTY. The true test of leadership is whether you can bring together these factions who disagree on major issues to work towards the common goal of electing a Republican ticket. The key to that is to focus on areas of agreement instead of areas of disagreement. To accomplish this, the Chairman must not take sides in disputes and instead be a fair and honest broker who allows every activist their say. The State Chairman also needs to administer the party rules and process fairly and equally.
It is not difficult to divide the party but it takes a hardworking and committed leader to succeed in uniting it. I hope all of you will keep this mind as you pick party leadership in the future. While there are issues that divide us, we are all still united in our belief that the country is headed in the wrong direction, the government is too big, that our standing in the world has diminished, and that free enterprise and individual liberty are key to our prosperity. I am confident that if we all work together, we can keep Texas red, take back the White House, and turn the country back around.
Thank you for the honor and privilege of being your State Chairman these last several years.
Stephen Munisteri, Chairman