Texas GOP On The Verge Of Revolutionary Reforms: What's In Store For The Lone Star State?

By Jennifer Wentworth | Tuesday, 04 June 2024 08:30 AM
Views 4.2K
Image Credit : Reform Austin

The Republican Party of Texas (RPT) is on the brink of unveiling their official policy platform, which proposes comprehensive reforms within the state.

This follows a weekend of intense deliberation and the election of a new state chairman. Fox News Digital engaged with several prominent Republicans across the state to gather their perspectives on the new platform and the newly elected chairman.

Abraham George, a former GOP chair from Collin County, emerged victorious in a six-way race against party Vice Chair Dana Myers. George's victory was bolstered by endorsements from former Chair Matt Rinaldi, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and a host of state representatives.

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George shared his aspirations for the upcoming November election with Fox News Digital, stating, "My goal is to work and ensure we gain more seats in the Texas House and Senate." He emphasized the importance of the campaigns of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump to the RPT, and outlined plans for strategy, fundraising, and execution.

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However, George assumes leadership of a party that is deeply divided and increasingly dependent on a shrinking pool of donors. Notably, the party has a significant reliance on West Texas oil billionaires Tim Dunn and Farris Wilk, whose donations have reportedly surged to 25% of the party's income. This includes $450,000 from Dunn's Hexagon Partners LTD and $350,000 from Defend Texas Liberty Pac. In April's federal filing, the RPT reported an income of $2.8 million since 2023, three-quarters of what the party had previously raised in the 2019-2020 cycle.

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Despite these challenges, George remains undeterred. He expressed his intent to expand the donor pool, stating, "I haven't had a chance to talk to these big donors, or any of the donors honestly, but we're going to build financial committees where we can actually have fundraising throughout the state of Texas without depending on one or two people." He acknowledged the importance of big donors to the party but emphasized his desire for the party to represent the grassroots rather than a few individuals.

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At the convention, Texas Senator John Cornyn called for unity, stating, "What we got here in Texas is too important to squander by fighting the fights of the past as opposed to looking forward to winning in November."

Despite speculation about Texas turning blue, George dismissed any imminent threat from the left. He pointed to the energized grassroots and the increasing number of volunteers for the Republican Party. He also highlighted the party's gains in South Texas and the ongoing collaboration with county chairs in the region.

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This sentiment was echoed by several local party leaders and state representatives. Williamson County Chairwoman Michelle Taff Evans told Fox News Digital, "The biggest threat to the Republican majority is complacency, both on the part of the elected officials and the voters. I think the RPT division is most deeply felt by those who are losing control of the party, who see the grassroots as a threat to their long-held power, and who fear populism."

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One of the most ambitious proposals in the new RPT platform is the closing of primaries, which would allow only Republicans to vote in Republican primaries. George described this as one of the most important policy achievements of the convention and expressed his commitment to securing it.

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However, critics fear that this could entirely surrender the RPT to the hard right-wing of the party. The moderate speaker of the Texas House, Dade Phelan, recently won a narrow victory against Trump-backed Dave Covey in a runoff election. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick attributed Phelan's victory to the open primary system, stating, "The only way Dade Phelan, who doubled down on appointing Democrat chairs in his recent campaign, can be re-elected Speaker is by a handful of a small minority Republicans and a huge majority of Democrats."

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The most consequential proposal, however, comes in the form of a new constitutional amendment. The proposed amendment would require a state office holder to win a majority of Texas' counties in a proposal similar to the electoral college. Given the GOP's reliance on low-populated, but numerous, rural counties, this would make a Democratic statewide victory virtually impossible. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott carried 235 out of 254 counties in 2022 despite only winning the popular vote by +10%. Legal experts expect this to be challenged under the Voter Rights Act, although the platform also calls for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act.

State Rep. Caroline Harris Davila expressed her focus on school choice, stating, "We want to be the top of the list for education in Texas, and whether it's public schools, great private schools, we need to make sure parents have everything they can to get their kids the best education possible."

George also hinted at the legislative priorities, stating, "The legislative priorities haven't been published yet, but I expect it'll be about closing our borders and election integrity is going to be major for us."

However, not all Republicans are optimistic about the election results and the direction of the party. Travis County Chair Matt Mackowiak, who ran for election against George, expressed his doubts about the competence of the RPT's leadership. He outlined the party's needs, which include unifying the party, registering voters for the first time in years, raising $5 million as quickly as possible, supporting targeted races, and winning elections.

Taff Evans expressed the desire for decisive action against federal incompetence with regard to the border and federal overreach with regards to civil liberties. Former RPT Chairman Matt Rinaldi advised the next chair to remember that the party should serve the people, not the politicians, and to always stand on principle.

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