-Felicia Cravens, Contributing Writer
This week the Republican Party of Texas published THIS, in which the leadership comments on the latest of the the epic challenges it has faced in holding a primary this year. If you’ve followed the redistricting issue, and the subsequent mess, you know they are battling uphill. Lawsuits from groups purporting to represent minority interests, panels of federal judges, and Supreme Court decisions were all added to the mix, postponing Texas’ primary from Super Tuesday in March to early April, then to late April, and now (perhaps) to late May. Given that the RPT has scheduled the state convention for June 7-9 in Fort Worth, a late May election would give the party less than two weeks to hold the two other conventions that are supposed to precede the state convention; conventions from which delegates to the state are chosen. This matters hugely because it is delegates to the state convention who choose the delegates to the national convention.
The interesting part of the piece is this (emphasis added):
Chairman Munisteri discussed with the Court the problems a May 29th primary creates for the party’s delegate selection process for the RPT State Convention. He reiterated that it is impossible to comply with the current Texas Election Code as it pertains to delegate selection, with the primary on May 29th and the State Convention in the first week of June. He strongly urged the Court to issue an order that would allow the State Republican Executive Committee to adopt a new delegate selection process which varies from the Election Code. He told the court that if there is sufficient time for planning, that in consultation with party leadership, he had several different options in mind which: would allow district conventions to still occur on schedule, allow for a May 29th primary, and still allow for a convention the next week. In general terms, he suggested different options which would completely de-couple the selection of delegates to the State Convention from the primary election.
So in order to deal with the challenges the RPT faces (through no fault of its own) in conducting a state convention, Munisteri is asking the court to grant the State Republican Executive Committee to invent a new process to elect delegates to the state convention. That sounds fairly reasonable, actually; there’s no possible way to hold a primary election on, say, May 29th with a convention, hold district and county conventions on June 3rd and then hold state convention on June 7th. So the RPT has two options: move the state convention, or shortcut the process.
The Texas state convention is one of the largest political gatherings in the country, requiring arrangements for thousands of people. Given that the party has probably invested heavily in securing a venue that would fit them all in Fort Worth, and given that the party would likely forego a substantial sum in order to move the convention to another date, Munisteri’s solution seems the only practical, fiscally responsible means of conducting the state convention.
In light of the impossible situation the RPT has found itself in, our hope is that they consider the following in making their backup plans:
1) Make it Simple – The process must be easy to follow, both for veteran party members as well as newcomers to the process. If a chart is required, use one. If a video works better, create one. No one should be left guessing how the process works once it is in place.
2) Publicize the Details – Should the RPT decide to hold meetings ahead of the primary for the purposes of selecting delegates, the RPT should do everything in its power to publicize the decision and the requisite processes in as broad a way as possible. This should include multiple e-mail communications, mass mailing to all Republican voters, mass media advertising, social media campaigns and everything else they can think of.
3) Get Everything Online – the easiest way to share information these days is with social media, and the easiest things to share are links. Once the details are settled on the delegate-selection process, the entire thing should be posted online in an easy-to-share location. Then share it, and reshare it, and ask others to reshare it.
4) Include Everyone – The worst thing that can happen, in a year when the Republicans badly need grassroots activists to win the presidential election, would be for the party to miss an opportunity to reach new voters and new activists. Enlist all neighborhood leaders, county leaders and precinct chairs to get the word out, but don’t depend solely upon them. A few bad apples endeavoring to keep the proceedings small and exclusive will do tremendous damage across the entire party system, and give rise to conspiracy theories that help no one. Avoid that altogether, and include every group, leader, organization or area even remotely likely to participate.
In general, Republicans are pretty bad about educating voters on political processes. Check out any county’s Republican Party site, then the same county’s Democratic Party site. You’ll soon see which party informs its membership better. For that matter, check out the RPT and the DPT sites and see for yourself. And check out the DPT’s Resources tab.
The RPT has a chance to change this. They have an opportunity here to encourage massive participation in the political process in a year when they need huge public support for conservative ideas, and a visible representation of that support. If they make it easy for people to learn about and participate in the process, they will not only garner some needed goodwill, but will increase the number of boots on the ground ready to work on behalf of Republican candidates.