As Texas Republicans gather at their convention, delegates will choose between two individuals to lead the party as chairman: James Dickey and Allen West.
They’ll also choose the between two individuals for the important position of vice chair: Alma Jackson and Cat Parks.
Incumbent Vice Chairman Alma Perez Jackson, a seasoned conservative activist from Bexar County, was elected to the position in 2018. She’s being challenged by Cat Parks, the chairman of the Hamilton County GOP and current chair of the party’s Candidate Recruitment Task Force.
Texas Scorecard reached out to both candidates and provided them with a questionnaire that included items we believe are important for Texas Republicans. Both candidates responded, and we published their unedited remarks for the public.
While this organization does not endorse in party contests, we once again made a questionnaire available to both candidates, and their remarks can be viewed here. The election for RPT chairman and vice chair will be decided by delegates at the Texas GOP’s state convention this July.
Here are their responses without edits:
What are the qualities of a Texas Republican? Why are you one?
Alma Jackson: Republican qualities are: Belief in God, defense of life, personal responsibility, hard work and love of country. I call myself a Republican because, the Republican Party has not removed God from it’s platform and because Republican values make for good success. We live in the greatest country in the world and the opportunities for success in America are numerous for those who apply themselves.
Cat Parks: “Texas is a state of mind.” Freedom. The Constitution. Limited government. Less bureaucracy. Rugged individualism. Personal responsibility. Religious Liberty. Opportunity for all.
I’ve been involved in Republican politics and conservative activism for over 30 years, and yet I still find a place to welcome all of the #Walkaway voters that President Trump has inspired to leave the Democrat Party. I am a proud Texas Conservative, married to a Texas Conservative, and raising a Texas Conservative who believes “One person CAN make a difference.”
Texas has a lot of elected Republican officials. Who do you believe does the best job standing up for the priorities of the Texas GOP? Why?
AJ: I have not studied what each elected official has done or not done. Too many to vet. Sorry I cannot answer this question.
CP: My local County Judge Mark Tynes spends our county’s money as carefully as he spends his own. He is accessible to his constituents, honest, and fair. He’s a God-fearing man who upholds the Constitution. There are Republican officials across the state like him who embody Texas GOP values.
Right now, the work that Attorney General Ken Paxton and the Texas Supreme Court Justices have done and continue to do to highlight and protect election integrity from voter fraud should be among the top priorities of the Texas GOP.
What current Republican official has done the most damage to the Texas GOP brand? Why?
AJ: I again, cannot answer this question.
CP: We all have people that we have grievances with. The question is why and what do we do about it? The greatest conflicts that occur between politicians and the grassroots are over perceived or actual lack of action, loss of integrity, or missed opportunities for good communication. Integrity has to be central to both those in Party leadership and those in elected office, but it also extends to all of us in the public eye who lead with an “R”. Yes, be a “good Republican”, but don’t forget to be a good human being in the process. We could all be reminded of that from time to time.
While the “Blue Wave” wasn’t successful in taking out Sen. Ted Cruz, a lot of Texas Republicans lost their elections that year. Why did that happen?
AJ: There are many different reasons for the close call races in 2018. Voter fraud is real and a huge problem, we also have too many voters who do not make intelligent voting decisions, many vote in a particular party due to tradition instead of platform and values. Young, college age voters are indoctrinated by very liberal professors and that has been taking place for a very long time so it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that many young voters do not see the dangers of socialism creeping up on us. In fact, many believe that socialism is good which leads them to vote Democrat.
CP: The so-called “Blue Wave” was the result of 80M dollars pouring into the Beto race and unchallenged Democrats spending their war chests boosting fellow Democrats in neighboring challenged races in historically red areas. Those two things combined with straight ticket voting in urban areas created a perfect storm for down ballot Republicans. The judges we lost were a travesty. The same phenomenon happened to my father, a Republican elected official in a blue state, when Bill Clinton won in 1992. History often repeats itself.
Thank God for the rural counties who saved Sen.Ted Cruz, including my own who voted for him by 84%. It’s painful to think that “gun grabber” Beto – a man willing to toss religious liberty out the window at the drop of a hat- came so close.
What does the Texas GOP need to do to win back these seats in 2020?
AJ: We must continue to educate the voters about the difference between the two parties, register voters who believe in Republican ideals, personal responsibility, legal immigration, etc. The voting public needs to be made aware that we are serious about being the better party to support. People are anxious for good leaders who do what they promise and who place the taxpayers first. Republican leaders must do what they were elected to do, that alone would make a huge difference.
CP: The RPT began two major initiatives immediately following the 2018 election. The Voter Engagement Project, which has successfully registered over 100,000 Republican voters to date AND the Candidate Recruitment Task Force, of which I was named Chair.
Great candidates give us the opportunity to spread the Republican message, reach new voters through diverse spheres of influence, and to stop unopposed Democrats from spending their money to flip other races. Candidate Recruitment was extremely successful providing a statewide framework and support through the RPT for local and grassroots level recruitment. There were over 3,000 Republicans on the ballot to 1,400 Democrats. We saw a tremendous increase in qualified female and minority candidates, and we doubled the number of female Congressional candidates. While the Republican Party does not believe in identity politics, we do believe in finding exceptional candidates and celebrating them.
One of the key components to successful recruitment was education. I organized a collaborative effort between the RPT, TRCCA, TFRW, and TGA in which the Leadership Institute trained candidates and campaign teams. There were more than 30 schools hosted around the state and over 1,500 Republicans were trained.
Preceding every Texas GOP convention, there’s controversy over whether or not the Log Cabin Republicans should be allowed to purchase a booth or engage in other activity. What is your position on this issue? Is any reform to the process needed?
AJ: The platform is put together by delegates who attend the Texas Republican Convention. One of our Republican planks concerns traditional marriage. I support our platform and promote it. To not support our platform after so much time, sacrifice and spending of personal funds by the delegates who attend the state conventions working hard to keep our party moral and responsible, is very disheartening and disrespectful to all delegates. Why have a platform if we do not honor it? Allowing the Log Cabin Republicans to rent a booth at our convention is no different than our Republican elected, who disregard our platform. Gays are welcome as Republicans and many are already in positions of leadership within our party.
CP: I’ve spoken with hundreds of delegates, and when asked what the biggest issues are concerning the Convention, not one single person has brought up booths as their major concern. Convention booths are becoming increasingly archaic. The Party needs to recognize the fact that networking events and technology are beginning to supersede the cultural need or discussion for convention booths at all.
Texans ARE concerned about our economy, lawlessness, the looming threat of socialism, the lack of civics education being taught in our schools, protecting the pre-born, impartial judicial benches, election integrity, COVID restrictions, property taxes, and getting Trump re-elected.
I’m an 80/20 Reagan Republican. It was Ronald Reagan who said, “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally, not a 20 percent traitor.” We need ALL Republicans to band together in the fight in November. The Presidency is at stake, redistricting is at stake, our judicial benches are at stake, our nation is at stake.
As Texas grows, so too must the Republican Party. What will you do to increase party involvement from Texas’ growing and changing population?
AJ: Texas is growing rapidly and I will continue to speak and train in any county where I am needed. My authority is very limited as vice chairman but I have never turned down a request to train, to motivate, to present ideas that have worked through the 33 years of my Republican activism. I have tried to get border county chairmen together to work events together because when we share the work, we multiply the results. We must get the voters out to vote and we must not give up fighting for what is right and for laws that will benefit all.
CP: Texas Values are Republican values. Invite them to our table and ask them to join us. Have articulate well-conceived answers about the differences between being a Republican and Democrat and be able to express that our Party’s views and actions are directly related to Texas’ prosperity.
Strong Candidate Recruitment addresses all aspects Republicans need to focus on: inspiring participation, enhancing party growth, improving messaging, minority outreach, and holding Democrats accountable for bad policy.
Secondarily, a wise man once told me, “If all you hear is your neighbors screaming at one another over the fence, it’s highly unlikely you want to head over there for a BBQ.” We’ve got to stop the Party infighting and focus our energy on going after a very real threat that is trying to remake our state and country: the socialist Democrat agenda.
A vocal minority of Republicans has repeatedly attempted to weaken the party’s platform and messaging when it comes to immigration issues. Will you support the party platform and oppose any path to citizenship, legal residency, or other legal status for illegal aliens?
AJ: I fully support the party platform and believe that all immigration must be legal.
CP: The Platform is the voice of the grassroots. I will always stand with the grassroots.
What must be done to ensure the Texas GOP’s legislative priorities are implemented by legislators?
AJ: Legislators need to be reminded often that they work for us, they were elected to represent the voters. While SREC members can impress the legislators to work on legislative priorities, additional pressure must be felt from the voters. It is the voters who elected them into office and it is the voters who can vote them out. It is called civic responsibility.
CP: Legislators need to be educated on what is important to their grassroots constituents. The Party has a role to play there. Likewise, the grassroots must be educated on how to best advocate for our platform planks and priorities. The Party has a role to play there, too. The Republican Party of Texas is not “an office in Austin”; it is all of us.
Texas Republicans control every statewide office and the Texas Legislature. What measures must pass this upcoming session for it to be declared a success?
AJ: Our legislative priorities are very important to many they are, Ending Tax Payer Funded Lobbying, Ending Abortion, Real Property Tax Relief, Constitutional Carry & Religious Freedom and Privacy.
CP: Ensuring the right of all Texans to protect themselves, their families, and their property must be a priority. Ending Taxpayer funded lobbying. Texas property taxes need to be re-examined. SB 2 didn’t do enough to address the appraisal process. Without appraisal reform, people’s taxes are still going up. There is more to be done in the next legislative session. The platform work done at the Convention will determine what needs to be manifested into law.
One thing is for certain, our success hinges on the election of a Conservative Speaker.