As we move heavily into the Republican Party of Texas pre-convention campaigning activities it seems allegations and statements are flying around. As a public service, TCR in this issue will attempt to separate the myths from the facts:
(1) Tina Benkiser is running for re-election as chairman - MYTH - She was chosen by a majority vote of the 64 member SREC (State Republican Executive Committee) over Gina Parker to serve out the unexpired term of Susan Weddington.
(2) State party offices are filled by a ticket running together - MYTH - For almost its entire history individuals ran by themselves for party office. Each election for party office is a separate election. The ticket idea originated with Susan Weddington in her re-election campaign a few years ago, but it is fiction under RPT rules.
(3) Vice Chairman Candidate David Barton will not run in 2004 if Gina Parker is elected chair - FACT - David Barton has stated he is not interested in being Vice Chairman if Tina Benkiser is not elected chair. This is his choice. This normally comes into the conversation after it's stated that "David and Tina are running as a team." Since the convention elects the State chair in caucus, there is no way of knowing who will win the Chair's race. Barton will have to actually run for Vice Chair and then withdraw on the floor if Gina Parker wins. Many people who have thought about this aspect of things do not particularly like the image that it portrays. It's important to consider, are some placing a greater emphasis on the Vice Chair position?
TCR COMMENT - David Barton has done a fabulous job with his private Wallbuilders program about the religious basis of America. It is obviously important and probably deserves his full-time attention. Another point is the Chair's position is the more important position and should be treated as such. Anyone who votes for Chair based on who the Vice Chair is has got it backwards and is basing their vote on a mistaken assumption.
(4) A lawyer who represents clients and helps them deal with their problems would have a conflict as RPT chair - MYTH - Both candidates for state chair are practicing lawyers and represent clients. Both have served in various positions in the GOP and never has their individual law practice been a problem and it won't happen to either in the future.
(5) Both candidates for state chair are qualified - FACT - Under RPT rules both Gina Parker and Tina Benkiser are qualified to run for chair but the better question is to delve into their respective biographies.
TCR COMMENT - The backbone of our party is the county Republican parties and their leadership and our important Republican clubs. Look at the candidates - who has been a leader in their county GOP, their clubs, who has been a leader on our core conservative issues? SREC service is important, but not the same. As many of you know, SREC members are elected by senatorial caucuses at the state convention by a few hundred delegates. By example the county chairman in Harris County is often elected with over 100,000 votes cast.
(6) The Republican Party of Texas is a lean mean fighting machine that is well prepared for tomorrow's challenges - MYTH - You know better. As typical in politics, things go in cycles. We are in an up cycle, but the Democrats look at demographics and think their time will come again sooner rather than later. In some strong GOP counties Democrats have already broken through in down ballot races. In Harris County, political scientists say that by 2008-2010 the change will start.
TCR COMMENT - All true, but the Democrats hopes and dreams are not inevitable. We have a lot of work to be done to stay on top. Look at the candidates for chair and who has a plan to keep us in the promised land.
(7) RPT officials in the past apologized for the institution of slavery - FACT - In previous election cycles, Susan Weddington and David Barton apologized to an audience of black ministers about slavery.
TCR COMMENT - Apologizing for something we as Republicans are not responsible for is ineffective and often harmful outreach. How do we know? Our base vote in the African-American community has not gotten better in years. We need a real plan and we need to implement it. The first rule of successful outreach is showing up, especially in non-political seasons. The second rule is being a good listener and the third rule is you must involve your county Republican parties and local Republican clubs in your efforts.
(8) The race for chair is between the GOP establishment and the conservative grassroots - FACT - Everyone says they are a candidate of the grassroots, but the establishment in the race for chair is behind Benkiser and the grassroots GOP is behind Parker. The real issue in this campaign is, do we want a top down approach or a bottom up approach? The Benkiser team is pushing the top down approach. If we want to bring new people into the party who actually hold the same beliefs as the grassroots, we need leaders who care about it. Many activists complain that they used to get questions answered but now have found it harder and harder to get responses from the RPT leadership. There have been several moves to shrink the size of the State convention, that will also limit the number of people able to participate in the process. The current leadership does not appear to want grassroots participation. The SREC has passed a rule that would limit debate on the convention floor to a simple majority vote rather than the traditional 2/3. RPT committees have met in executive session more and more addressing issues that should be public.
TCR COMMENT - "We the people" run the show and should be able to tell the national and state people how things generally should be operated.
(9) If Gina Parker is elected chair there are no qualified people to serve the party with her - MYTH.
TCR COMMENT - There is no shortage of good people who will serve our party, the only problem is they haven't been given the opportunity in the past. In fact expanding involvement is essential to the party's long-term success. This has been neglected over the last few years.
(10) Who is Party Chairman doesn't really matter in terms of public policy - IT DEPENDS - An activist party chair, with a clear vision and a manageable RPT policy agenda can be a difference maker in advancing conservatism in Texas. Without those attributes the party will be the tail wagged by the dog - with little or no influence.
Toomey Almost Does it in PA vs. Specter
There was a close shave in the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary - 50.8% to 49.2% and so-called GOP moderate incumbent Arlen Specter won (by 16,000) over Representative Pat Toomey.
Targeted by conservatives and Club for Growth, the 24-year incumbent almost bit it. Specter outspent Toomey 3 to 1.
Most telling however was Toomey and the conservatives were battling the RNC, the White House and conservative Senator Rick Santorum and still almost won.
The lesson here is we can retake our party for conservatism, we just need a little help.
So don't get discouraged and don't be fooled by RINO'S.
What You Can Do to
Help Make Property Tax Relief a Reality
The Texas Legislature is now in a special session to completely overhaul the way we fund public education in our state. During this time, we have a unique opportunity to address the problem of rising property taxes and lack of accountability in the appraisal process. Governor Perry has already laid out a plan that has a lot going for it. In addition, State Representative Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) and Elizabeth Ames Jones (R-San Antonio) are leading the way in the House to cap runaway property tax appraisals, give voters more say over tax rate increases and restore accountability by making local elected officials responsible for certifying the appraisal rolls.
They believe these taxpayer protection measures are crucial to restoring truth in taxation and should be a part of any school finance plan passed by the legislature. In fact, if we don't get relief now while the school finance issue is being dealt with, we won't get it.
Remember, last session the 2/3 rule in the Senate killed similar relief after extensive lobbying by local officials. TCR Suggestion , call or email your State House and Senate member and let them know that you stand for the 5 and 5 property tax relief plan by Governor Perry. To locate your State House and Senate Member, please visit: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/fyi/fyi.htm
Is RPT Interim Chairman self-dealing
on Convention Roster to her advantage?
As this issue of TCR is released National Committeeman Tim Lambert and RPT Vice-Chair David Barton are in a war of e-mails on supposed preferential release of the 2004 convention roster to the Benkiser campaign team prior to releasing it to the Parker campaign.
TCR obviously doesn't know what the RPT has done, but clearly the party should not play favorites. The RPT employees don't work for Benkiser, they work for us and there should be no campaigning or favoritism for one side or the other.
If you, as a delegate find one side is contacting you by phone or mail and not the other then you know there is cheating going on.
Quote of the Fortnight
TCR COMMENT - Cheaters don't deserve your support ever.
From Richard Engle, President National Federation Republican Assembly www.GOPwing.com
"It is my contention that the modern Republican Party is entirely the creation of Ronald Reagan's legacy. While we would not want to demean the impact other Republicans have had including our current President and his father, there is little doubt either of them would have become President without Reagan." More importantly, the Grand Old Party would stand for "Old" more than it does "Grand" were it not for "the Great Communicator" transforming its message to one that reached the hearts of the vast majority of Americans." At that time and still today, Americans are largely politically conservative as conservatism was defined by him. On social issues, Americans hold to traditional definitions of family and of life. On fiscal, Americans want limited government, freedom to pursue there own goals, and minimal taxes. Internationally, Americans want to engage the world rather than be isolated from it, however they want our government to pursue the values of liberty rather than to appease foreign potentates."
"It is my opinion that Ronald Reagan's success was built on the fact that he never failed to stand firm in his commitment to principle. I also believe that the Republican Party must, on an ongoing basis, recall that recipe for success. We will not achieve greatness by merely electing more and more Republicans if being a Republican carries little or no meaning or impact on that elected officials public policy."
A View from "Our Friend" Hillary
TCR COMMENT - There is an increasing problem in our party as it has become more successful that opportunistic ambitious candidates for public office or for party offices have arrived and say they're Republicans, but do not share our common sense deeply felt conservative principles. These people are also known as RINO'S. How do you know a RINO? A person who "talks" a good game, but when given an opportunity to lead and (or) vote to advance our economic and social conservative agenda, they disappear or go AWOL.
"The Bush Administration and its rubber-stamp Congress are doing lasting damage to our way of life and our future as a nation. The America our children and our children's children will inherit will be very different than the one you and I grew up in. It will be one in which the government will be forced to break its compact with its people to help them achieve a better future than previous generations."
"They must be stopped. And 2004 is the year it must be done. If we can recapture just two Senate seats in the next elections, we can thwart the ultra-right agenda and begin to repair the damage that has been done. If, as we all hope, a Democrat is elected to the White House, the new president will need a majority in the Senate to enact an agenda that puts America back on the right track."
Despite Governor Rick Perry's Best Efforts
It Appears Tax System in TX is Beyond Repair - Maybe We Should Start Over
The valiant effort of Governor Perry to get control of runaway property taxes, reform school finance and not raise taxes has run into roadblocks in the House and Senate.
TCR congratulates the Governor for being innovative and bold and laying out new ideas. It is possible what we in Texas have run into is the impossibility to patch up our archaic revenue system.
So what to do? Maybe go back and start from scratch and devise a simple, and fair revenue system that applies to all - TCR will be following this emerging issue, please send in your ideas and comments.
About Your Editor
is a long time Republican spokesman, fund-raiser and leader who
recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican
Chair. During his time as Chairman, Gary was described as the
most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events.
For six years, Gary put out a bi-weekly newsletter which he has
continued due to requests from many Republican activists.
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