As delegates begin arriving in Dallas for the 2016 Texas Republican Party State Convention, many are focused on the work of the temporary platform committee, which begins its meetings on Monday. The committee is responsible for crafting an initial draft of the party’s platform, a biennial statement of principles, goals, and legislative priorities supported by the party’s members.

GOP State Chairman Tom Mechler, who was appointed by the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) to fill the unexpired term of outgoing chairman Steve Munisteri, has appointed SREC member Angie Flores of Corpus Christi to lead the temporary platform committee.

The appointment drew criticism from grassroots circles supporting former Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill, who is challenging Mechler for the party’s top leadership spot at the convention.

Julie McCarty, head of the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party, was critical of the appointment, citing to Flores’ work as a senior advisor to House Calendars Committee Chairman Todd Hunter (R–Corpus Christi). McCarty cited Hunter and House Speaker Joe Straus’s responsibility for the death of several of the reforms contained in the platform, and suggested that Flores’ connections with Hunter clouded her ability to lead the platform committee.

In an interview with Texas Scorecard, Flores responded to the criticism, and cites her extensive involvement on organizational boards, including the boards of the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority, Corpus Christi Conventions and Visitors Bureau, and Leadership Corpus Christi, as evidence she can handle the task. “I love board work,” Flores commented.

Flores asserts her responsibility is to be neutral and to “facilitate the meeting.” The results will be up to the work of the committee’s members and not her personal preferences, says Flores. Her goal is to be “fair and transparent.”

She distances her Republican Party activities and personal life from her work in Hunter’s legislative office, where she has worked for seven years, saying that her involvement there as a senior advisor is “completely separate.” She sees no conflict of interest in working for Hunter, who formerly served in the legislature as a Democrat, and said that she sees no need to recuse herself if the issue of Calendars reform or other changes to House procedure come in front of the committee.

Over the past three conventions, a major point of conflict has been over the issue of border security and immigration reform.

In 2010, under the leadership of platform committee chairman Wayne Christian, the party passed a very aggressive plank opposing illegal immigration. Moderate Republicans responded in 2012 by rolling back some of Christian’s more aggressive language, and inserting language supporting a guest worker program.

In 2014, the guest worker program language was refined and pushed as part of the so-called “Texas Solution.” The proposal was supported by Mechler and heavily financed by Houston businessman and amnesty advocate Norman Adams. The “Texas Solution” was included in a draft of the platform by the temporary platform committee, but after an extensive floor fight, the guest worker program language was stripped from the platform by the party faithful.

Flores said she had not been involved on either side of the “Texas Solution” issue in 2014 and expressed no position on whether the language would return in 2016. She did, however, cite to her efforts in 2014 leading an effort to have constitutional carry legislation added as a legislative priority to the platform, as evidence of her conservative bona fides.

Flores said that she hopes to produce a “very concise document,” but agreed that the purpose of the platform was not only to serve as a marketing document for the party, but also a list of long-term goals and short-term legislative priorities. She expressed no opinion on whether the platform should be shortened or lengthened, saying she would leave that decision up to the work of the platform committee’s members. Since 2014, some Republican organizations have called for the platform to be significantly cut down in length and content.

Flores and the temporary platform committee will begin meeting on Monday, May 9, at 11am, in Convention Center room D168.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.

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