In keeping with our effort to provide Texans with the information they need to be informed voters, Texas Scorecard distributed a questionnaire to those running for the lead the Republican Party of Texas as chairman: incumbent James Dickey and challenger Cindy Asche.
We also decided for the first time ever to make a number of the same questions available to those running for the State Republican Executive Committee as well. While we won’t be issuing an endorsement in any of these races, we hope that the responses to these questions will help you decide which man and which woman will best represent your interest on the SREC.
Here are the answers from the Senate District 9 candidates who responded without edits:
Why should Republicans choose you for the SREC?
Bill Eastland: I served for the 2012-2014 term and have paid close attention to the proceedings of the SREC since Steve Munisteri was elected in 2010. I have also attended about half of all RNC meetings since 2013. I have had broad experience in Party activities for more than 50 years. I am a strong advocate for the grass roots having a much larger role in determining the nominees of the party as the only effective means of ensuring that our elected officials will actually enact our Platform into law. In 2013 I led the fight for greater transparency of the proceedings of the SREC by authoring a rule that required an official recording of SREC meetings and allowing guest recording. A watered down version passed then but the fight continued for more than four years until we finally achieved complete victory in 2017 under James Dickey’s leadership. In 2014, as a member of the Convention Rules Committee, I proposed a Censure Rule designed to hold our elected officials accountable. It was shot down by the “Powers-That-Be” led by Bill Crocker, but in 2016 a censure rule (Rule 44) was pressed by others under the leadership of Jeremy Blosser and passed. I have been a pioneer for Conservative Values who has taken the arrows.
Voting on SREC
I aggressive seek input from my SD
I vote my district
Tried to make it like a field representative for the party
- Worked with county chairs to provide resources
- Started two new clubs:
- Dallas County Assembly with Steve Hollern, James Ashby
- Texas Strong Republican Women’s Club with Beryl Dowd & Jennifer Windmill
SREC By- Law changes authored by Steve Atwell and Vergel Cruz
- Candidate Resource Committee – Changed to allow telephone conference meeting and vote with proper notice (1st non-officials committee to do that)
- Change in beginning and ending of term for CRC
- Added 4 optional members to CRC
Set up a Speaker’s bureau for local clubs
Almost every club in SD 9 has utilized the speaker’s bureau I set up during my first term.
Vote for Chairman Steve Munisteri Replacement
Conducted State Chair forum and straw poll for multiple SD’s for replacement RPT chair after Munisteri’s resignation. Robin Armstrong, Tom Mechler, Jared Woodfill, and Wade Emmert were the participants. In my belief of the GOP grassroots should have the final say in who is their chair, I gave my vote back to the district. SD 9 attendees asked me to vote for Robin Armstrong.
Vote for Chairman Tom Mechler Replacement
Only had a couple of weeks to get feedback. I sought feedback from my district via email, phone calls and social media. SD 9 supported James Dickey overwhelmingly. I voted my district and voted for James in his 1 vote winning margin.
RESOLUTIONS AUTHORED AND SPONSORED
- Zedler Resolution for saving life of activist passed unanimously
- Anti pay to play resolution tabled in committee
- Resolution Calling for the Republican Caucus in the Texas House of Representative to Select the Speaker Authored by Steve Atwell and Milton Rister of Austin / sponsored by Steve Atwell and Debbie Terry
…. WHEREAS: the appropriate venue for House Republicans to make that decision is by a vote of the Republican members during a meeting of the Republican Caucus in the Texas House to be held before the Legislature convenes for the next Regular Session, and….
ALSO BE IT RESOLVED: that a copy of this resolution shall be delivered to every candidate for the Texas House of Representatives who files for a position on the ballot as candidates in the 2018 Republican Platform.
Passed by SREC
- PROPOSAL FOR NEW COMMITTEE VOTER INTEGRITY COMMITTEE passed by SREC
Forming a new committee to fight voter fraud. Principle authors Steve Atwell and Rep Stephanie Klick. It took 2 years to get this accomplished.
Candidate Resource Committee Chairman for 4 years
- RELEVANCE – MOVE FROM TACTICAL TO STRATEGIC PLAN
- GOAL Make CRC an effective weapon equal to the Victory Committee
- GOAL Be able Counter Battleground Texas and Soros in Texas lower ballot races
- Complete revision of CRC from fund raising tools to application process.
- Candidate Ceremonies
- Logo and Convention pin
- Online Application/campaign plan actually useful to candidate
- New video with “I was one theme”
- Facebook Page
- Targeted e letters
- Enhanced Awards for donors
- CRC Capital Club
- Streamer and check presentation Ceremonies
- Results Increased donations to CRC by 38% last cycle
- On track to shatter record this cycle.
Texas Republicans control every statewide office and the Texas Legislature by impressive margins. What measures must pass this upcoming session for it to be declared a success?
Bill Eastland: Success will be measured by the enactment of more than half of the Legislative Priorities that will be passed buy the 2018 State Convention and more than half of any others added by the SREC; AND, by the election of a Republican Speaker of the House under the new rule passed by the House Caucus that will require the election of a Speaker Candidate. This historic move could lead to the election of a Speaker who respects the members, does not put his /her thumb on the scale and allows the will of the House to be done. If that happens, we could return to the tradition that existed since the founding of the Republic thru the 1960s that the Speaker would only serve one term and then return to the floor. The only exception to that unwritten rule was the most Conservative, and most respected, politician in Texas history, Coke Stevenson.
- Property Tax reform is a priority
- School finance Administration costs are way out of control.
- More life legislation like the dismemberment bill.
Current party rules allow for the SREC to censure a Republican officeholder that violates the party’s core principles. Do you think we should have this rule? Why or why not?
Bill Eastland: Yes, this rule has caused grass roots activists all over the state to bring resolutions of censure against some of the worst state legislators. Many of these resolutions were invalid because they did not follow the Rule, but that does not matter. It shows that when you change the rules good grass-roots activists respond because they actually believe their actions can have an impact. This is a GOOD THING! That having been said, I regard the Censure Rule as a blunt instrument that only move the ball slightly down the field. Also, it does not yet have real teeth. The only way to make it truly effective is to amend it to prevent a censured individual from filing to run on the next Republican primary ballot. I say we keep the Censure Rule until we make it obsolete by enacting a Party Rule that says that a candidate may not file to run on the Republican primary ballot unless the candidate has been endorsed by the appropriate Party Convention. Once we have that rule, we no longer need a censure rule because the convention will take the record of the lawmaker into account before choosing to allow them to appear on the ballot. Changes in State Law since 2013 allow us to do this right now. This is a “Convention Rule” as opposed to a “Censure Rule” and it is a scalpel by comparison while the censure is a hammer. With the convention rule the bad apples never get into office in the first place, but if they turn bad, they are easily removed in the next cycle just like Utah Sen. Bob Bennett was prevented from standing on the ballot in 2010, two Tea Party candidates were endorsed and Mike Lee was elected. Without that “Convention Rule” in Utah, Mike Lee would never be in the Senate. For those that claim that we will be sued and lose in court, I direct them to a SCOTUS ruling, March Fong EU v. San Francisco Democratic Central Committ, et. al. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/489/214/case.html and an important Fifth Circuit decision, Dennis Kuchinich & Willie Nelson v. Democratic Party of Texas, et. al. (https://case-law.vlex.com/vid/kucinich-v-texas-democratic-601895942) These decisions establish that political parties may write rules that determine whom they want to associate with (First Amendment) and that such rules are permissible under Texas law. I am proposing just such a rule at this state convention but I don’t think the Delegates yet have the guts to pass it. Such a big change has to be pressed over more than one cycle to succeed.
Steve Atwell: I voted for the censorship of Byron Cook. I was asked by the resolutions committee chair to sponsor the Straus censorship resolution and due to pneumonia was unable to attend the meeting. I instructed my proxy to vote all of the three censorship resolutions if they were passed out of committee.
Last year, efforts to censure House Speaker Joe Straus were successful, but efforts to censure State Rep. Byron Cook and other lawmakers were not. What are some examples of actions you believe violate the party’s core principles?
Bill Eastland: Since I was integrally involved in those efforts, I need to point out that the Censure of Byron Cook can still be successful because the Hill County EC addressed their Resolution of Censure to the State Convention (as well as the SREC), as is allowed by Rule 44. I coached the Hill County precinct chairs to do exactly that because I recognized the SREC might not pass the Censure but I think the Convention will. For examples of actions that that violate the party’s core Principles, read the 87 items laid out in the Resolution of Censure of Byron Cook passed by the Hill County Republican Party Executive Committee on November 18, 2017.
Steve Atwell: The soul of our party is Faith, Family, and Freedom. This is the foundation of our platform. It is imperative that we defend the most conservative platform in RPT history. Having said that, the defense of innocent life is one of those principals. The blocking of the dismemberment bill in committee was a violation of those principles. Support of open borders, support a state income tax, public funding of Planned Parenthood.
Should you be elected, what tangible metrics should Republicans use to determine if you have been successful?
Bill Eastland: If I have not made progress in changing our rules to put the grass roots in control of who are our nominees for public office, then I should be thrown out of office.
Steve Atwell: I will continue to vote my district and proactively seek their input whenever possible. I will continue to work to make the state party an advocate for conservative principles and get Republicans elected to office.