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A Tale of Two Candidates

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On May 20th, Tom Mechler, Chair of the Republican Party of Texas resigned his post citing personal reasons. Amy Clark, the current Vice-Chair of the party then called for the election to fill the spot at the next meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) which will be held this coming weekend.

Rick Figueroa, who currently works within the RPT as co-chair of the Republican Party of Texas’ New Leaders on the Rise Committee, announced his bid for the office just two days later.  James Dickey, who is the Chair of the Travis County Republican Party, announced his bid the following day on the 23rd.

When a chairman within the RPT resigns, it is then the responsibility of the SREC which is made up of 62 members (one man and one woman from each of the 31 Texas Senate Districts) to cast the votes that will elect the next chairman.  In this case, the new chairman will serve until the state Republican convention which will be held next year in June.

In this whirlwind of a campaign, the two men who are vying for the majority of votes from the SREC have spoken at two candidate forums and will be speaking at three more before the week ends.

In the forum held by the Harris County Republican Party last night, Chairman Dickey told the story that as a young man, he had received a big job and that all employees were expected to donate 1% of their salaries to the company’s legislative PAC that helped influence legislation that affected the company.  When he inquired about what legislators the PAC supported, he discovered it supported Eddie Bernice Johnson. He went home that night and told his wife that he could not in good conscience donate to the PAC and they agreed that the next morning he would announce to his company that he would not participate.  He did and to his good fortune, he did not loose his job and he later discovered that the company stopped making this a requirement at all.

When asked why he wanted to run he stated that it was because he knows that conservative values are good for Texas and I have been willing to fight for them for decades.  My view for Texas is a Republican Party that stands up for what’s right and defends conservative principles.

Mr. Figueroa told about the rules for living that his mother instilled in him: 1. Get your butt out of bed and go to work. 2. Don’t expect anybody to help you. 3. You pray a lot. 4. Find a good woman and marry her. and 5. Raise Godly kids.

When asked why he wanted to run his replied,

“I’m not a Republican because I vote Republican.  I’m a Republican because I live Republican values and that’s a huge point because that’s my DNA.  It’s not an act. It’s how I got to where I am. Politics got involved with me when Obama became President. It was about an awakening.”  

He decided that he had to get involved and affect politics because if he didn’t, politics would affect him.  It was at that time that Governor Perry appointed him to the Texas Judicial Council and then Governor Abbott put him on the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

He told the audience that the messenger is just as important as the message because everyday branding takes place, everyday the media has an impact and we react to it, the message and who’s delivering that message is important. He will be honored to be that messenger.

When asked about strengths Dickey replied that he was good at presenting clear goals and keeping his team focused on them and relayed how he had done this in the Travis County Republican Party where no one thought he could.  Figueroa said his strength was that of ambassadorship due to the fact that he could walk into a cantina, a feed store, suburbia or the local country club and relate to people in all walks of life.

Figueroa, through his involvement with the RPT has been involved with listening tours across the state that has party officials going into different areas and listening to what is important to different groups of people and trying to engage them in working with the party.  He related that he has been involved with the Republican party from birth because of the Republican lifestyle that he has lived and believes that your impact trumps your experience.

Dickey wholeheartedly agreed with Figueroa that impact is important. Dickey started his service in the Republican party as a precinct chair by block walking his entire precinct.  Under his leadership, the Travis County Republican Party had the most successful fundraiser in fifteen years and as one of the top five metropolitan counties in the state of Texas, did not lose one single position on the ballot as the others did.

One issue that has arisen in the Figueroa camp during this campaign has been a questionable donation by Figueroa 15 years ago to a Democrat candidate.  When asked about it, Figueroa explained,

“I was very proud of that because her dad was my Little League baseball coach…..  When his daughter needed help and when he called me, I was proud to help and I would do it again.”

Likewise, Dickey was questioned about his involvement in the Free the Delegates movement at the national convention. Dickey explained as follows,

“We are a party of rules which is exactly what I and a bunch of others fought for at the convention.  The rules are crystal clear. There is no nominee until the delegates vote, so until the delegates vote, there is not a nominee.  The minute the delegates voted and we had a nominee, I was 100% behind that nominee and I have photos with his staff to prove it. ……that whole “free the delegates” thing was before the convention, not after.  The delegation discussion was all before the vote, before he was our nominee.  ……..  I have since then appeared on Austin TV to defend our President since he’s been elected and even before.  I think it was reasonable to have the fight and I think the people making the case for the rules were correct.”

The entire Harris County Forum can be viewed >here< which includes questions about censuring of elected leaders, the close votes that the RPT has had over the last few months, fundraising and other issues.

The Bexar County Republican party will hold a forum tonight starting at 6:30 pm. Click >here< to view live stream.  Williamson County will host a forum Thursday night and can be view >here<. The RPT will host a forum for the SREC only on Friday night.  That event will also be live streamed

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