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Thirty Plus One

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Political parties in the state of Texas come into the spotlight every two years on Election Day. Most are not aware that these parties have a big impact on the day-to-day politics of our state and that party members are constantly working behind the scenes in several different ways to influence the future of our state. The primary business of any political party, whether Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, or Green, includes fundraising and donating to candidates in selected races, lobbying for issues party members have set as priorities for the legislative session, and controlling ballot access for those who wish to represent the principles and ideals of their party.

Every two years thousands of Texans come together in what is called a convention, to determine and define the party beliefs and mission. Considering the political demographics in Texas, it should be no surprise that The Republican Party of Texas (RPT) has the largest convention in the state. In fact, it is the largest political convention of its kind in the world. At the Republican state convention earlier this year, upwards of 9,000 delegates gathered in Dallas to voice their opinions, codify their beliefs, and determine the business and process side of the Party.

The grassroots delegates went through an arduous committee process to have their beliefs and desires collected into a platform through the Resolutions Committee, and they determined what they wanted the business and process of the Party to be between conventions through the Rules Committee. The platform and business are designed to be upheld and carried out through the RPT board of directors known as the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC). During the convention, two SREC members are elected by the delegates of each senate district. The Chair and Vice Chair of the party are also elected at the convention by the whole body making a total of 64 representatives on the SREC.

This past weekend, the RPT SREC met for their quarterly meeting in Austin and what went on in that meeting has many party members across the state in an uproar. RPT Chairman, Tom Mechler, cast the tie-breaking vote to uphold his ruling on whether or not the delegates to the state convention this past summer understood what they were voting on when they unanimously supported a rule change that came out of the convention rules committee. Upholding the ruling, in effect, allowed the SREC to overturn the will of the convention delegates.

Ambiguity was the word of choice that was used to describe the reason for the approved rule change. Proponents made it clear that they believed that the convention body was confused about what they were voting on and because of that, the SREC needed to uphold the ruling of the chair. As questions were asked in both the rules committee meeting on Friday and in the debate that preceeded the vote on Saturday, it was said that many delegates were confused, but the claim of confused delegates seemed not to be concrete and that this was surmising based on opinion rather than hard facts.

As the will of the body is the most important voice of any party, representatives who go against that will are surely to face repercussions. The most prudent step to have taken in this circumstance should have been to bring this matter up at the next state convention and follow the necessary steps to allow the body to decide what the rules should be. Instead, the will of the entire body of thousands has taken a backseat to the rule of 30 plus 1.

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