Tuesday, June 27, 2017

New Texas GOP Chair puts party platform to use

The Republican Party of Texas elected James Dickey as their new chairman on June 3rd, and he has apparently hit the ground running. One of his big ideas? Asking Texas legislative Republicans to follow the state GOP Platform.

Dickey, elected to fill out the remainder of the chairman's term after the previous chair resigned, lobbied Gov. Greg Abbott to include several proposals from the RPT Platform in his call for a special session next month, and it appears that ten of those planks made it onto the agenda.

Here is what Chairman Dickey sent to House Speaker Joe Strauss (nearly identical letters were sent to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, as well as all Republican members of the Legislature):
It is my honor to reach out to you on behalf of Texas Republicans as we prepare for next month’s special session. I realize this will be a challenging time for you and your staff, and it is my desire to help in any way I can and work together to further the Principles and Platform of the Republican Party of Texas.

Many of the items included in Governor Abbott's call directly reflect planks of the Republican Party of Texas Platform which was approved by more than 5,700 delegates at the 2016 State Republican Convention. The following is a list of those call items and their corresponding planks:

- Municipal annexation reform- Plank 37
- Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud- Plank 59
- Privacy- Plank 87
- Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers- Plank 91
- School choice for special needs students- Plank 147
- Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders- Plank 100
- Property tax reform- Plank 175
- Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues- Plank 197
- School finance reform commission- Plank 120
- Caps on state and local spending- Plank 167

With these in mind, I ask for your help in identifying which House Members would be willing to take point on these items, to author or champion specific bills matching our Party platform. Of course if you prefer, the Members you so designate are welcome to contact me directly about the bills they expect to carry during the special session. I have included my contact information below. The Republican base and the grassroots are ready to encourage them and support their efforts in any way they need.

We would also welcome your assistance and input in working with the Governor’s office to include our remaining Legislative Priorities in the special session call. These Priorities are: constitutional carry, abolition of abortion, replacing property tax, comprehensive school choice in a manner consistent with the platform, and defense of Constitutional religious liberty and freedom of speech (specifically the First Amendment Defense Act).

I look forward to hearing from you soon about how we can work together to further our shared values found in the Texas Republican Platform and make this session a great success for our Party and our State.

This is a welcome departure from the typical operation of most party leaders, who seem to generally view the party platform as an interesting-but-mostly-useless document (and yet ask their convention delegates to put in hard work drafting and adopting said platform).

Here in Oklahoma, there have been numerous attempts at previous state GOP conventions to put our party platform to similar use. They tended to be very poorly worded (i.e. "candidates have to 'mark up' the platform", etc), and failed by large margins. However, the sentiment among party activists has been changing, in large part due to the party platform lip-service paid by elected Republicans at all levels without actual follow-through and results.

What Chairman Dickey is doing is nothing revolutionary or disruptive. He's not threatening elected Republicans, nor is he withholding campaign help. From what I can see, up here north of the Red River, he's respectfully requesting that Republican legislators follow the platform of their chosen political party.

With how Oklahoma's legislative leadership and governor acted this past session, this type of communication is needed from the Oklahoma Republican Party.


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