Before I outline these steps, I want to first give some context from the last two weeks since the Run-off election. I have found that there is a deep reservoir of both concern and good-will amongst Republicans, and a deep desire to unite and fight our true opponents. It is in deference to these feelings, as well as in fulfillment of the promise I made during the campaign, that I met with and agreed to work with Jared Woodfill and the HCRP over the next two years. This is an “all hands on deck” moment for our party, and we all need to take our battle stations.
For the ten days, I have been immersed in meetings about the state of our party, the feelings and concerns of some conservative Latino leaders of our civic and business community, the ideas many people have to improve the work of our party, and the desire to act upon those ideas. The common thread running through the fabric of these discussions was the desire for positive leadership and coordination from our party at all levels. If such leadership emerges, these people are ready to fight for the party.
I believe the HCRP has heard this message. The challenge now is to provide the positive leadership and coordination conservatives in our community are seeking.
Local reality and needed action items
Here is the reality we face in Harris County between now and November, 2011:
- in November, 2010, there will be between 80 and 90 contested races on the ballot, depending on where you live in the county—by far our ballot will be the longest ballot in the nation;
- of those races, the GOP will be defending at least 80 of those positions against Democratic challengers;
- we must defend these positions, and try to defeat the handful of Democratic incumbents running in contested districts throughout the county, with the former Mayor of Houston and a Latina union activist at the top of the Democratic statewide ticket—which will put pressure on many of our November-only Republican voters to split their ticket, rather than vote straight-ticket;
- because of the high turnout in the 2008 Democratic Primary, the Democrats can identify about twice as many voters within their base to get them to the polls than we currently are able to do;
- Organizing for America, the Obama machine that is now an affiliate of the Democratic National Committee, has established a headquarters in Houston and is training volunteers to register voters and get them to the polls; and
- meanwhile, we must begin the recruitment process for candidates for city and school board elections in 2011 and for the judicial seats we lost in 2008, which will be up for election 2012.
It is this reality, coupled with the serious political issues we face on the state and national level, that make this an “all hands on deck” moment for our party.
The good news is that so many good people are stepping forward to become engaged in the battle ahead. The bad news is that many of these people are creating overlapping groups that are duplicating each other’s work, while other allied individuals and groups with the resources to help have not yet been engaged in the fight. In the short time we have before the polls will open for early voting in October, 2010, our local party must lead and coordinate these efforts, without co-opting the energy and drive of the individuals who have stepped forward to fight.
Our goal must be to win all of the races on the ballot in 2010, and recruit a strong group of candidates for 2011 and 2012. Here are the steps we need to take toward accomplishing that goal:
- finish development of a plan and budget for the local 2010 campaign, including the get-out-the-vote and ballot-security strategy for every precinct and for every race;
- establish a liaison with every candidate’s campaign to coordinate the party’s efforts with his or her own campaign plan;
- geographically expand the horizon of our party beyond the typically strong Republican precincts west of the West Loop, north of I-10 and in Clear Lake—there are conservatives in every community and corner of this county from Alief to Baytown, and from Aldine to Galena Park;
- understand and meet with every organization that has formed or that exists, and that wants to support conservative candidates this fall, and understand the work plan each organization has established and is implementing;
- lawfully coordinate with, or adapt to those efforts to elect our Republican candidates in 2010, in a way that maximizes efficiency by reducing duplicative efforts;
- engage established Republican clubs and organizations into the 2010 campaign and gotv strategy, and engage those outside organizations that traditionally support conservative candidates to increase their involvement in this election cycle on behalf of our candidates to the extent legally permissible;
- develop and engage similar relationships with the leaders of the Latino, Asian and African-American civic and business communities, and engage them in the campaign plan, to the extent legally permissible;
- the bridge-building to the business communities and their leaders, who often individually support Republican candidates, must include fundraising efforts in support of the party’s overall budget and plan, and/or in support of the efforts of all organizations working to elect our candidates;
- coordinate the activities of our precinct teams in this “battle plan” with the joint campaign, the candidate campaigns, and the organizations providing help, and to engage them with local office holders to start the process of finding candidates for city and school board elections in 2011;
- support local efforts to fairly draw two new Houston City Council Districts, in compliance with the 1979 Consent Decree; and
- engage the Republican Party of Texas, adjacent county parties, and the Republican National Committee in these activities to the extent possible.
These steps must be completed (or, as in the case of the recruitment of local candidates and Houston redistricting, be started) by mid-September, 2010, in order to be ready for the first day of early voting (and for the immediate start of the 2011 cycle after the November election).