Tuesday, May 28, 2013

HCRP Chairman Woodfill Speaks to Greater Houston Pachyderm Club

Harris County Republican Party (HCRP) Chairman Jared Woodfill was the featured speaker at the weekly meeting of Greater Houston Pachyderm Club Tuesday.  The title of Woodfill's presentation was Vision For Victory 2014.

As a side note, Woodfill made mention that the Greater Houston Pachyderm Club was his first membership when he graduated from law school in 1993.  He received a warm welcome. Several candidates were present and they were introduced to the crowd.

Some interesting facts came forth in Woodfill's presentation.  Some well known and standard in his speeches, some were breaking newsworthy.  Let me go through his PowerPoint presentation and then I'll give some comments.

With two million registered voters in Harris County, it is the largest Republican county in the country. It is Ground Zero for keeping Texas a red state.  Liberals are making hay by claiming it is now a blue county and Woodfill wants you to know he does not agree with that claim.  He notes that 2010 was the best election cycle for the party in county history.  50,000 more GOP straight ticket voters went to the polls and State House Districts 133 and 134 turned to red from blue. And, the District Clerk race was won by a Republican.

In the national 2012 election cycle, GOP incumbents won in Harris County.  60,000 more straight ticket voters.  To make his point, Woodfill is often heard saying that Senator John Cornyn lost Harris county in 2008 but Ted Cruz won the county in 2012. And, Mitt Romney lost Harris county by less than 1,000 votes.  "Harris County is a long way from turning purple."

To get out the vote in 2014, Woodfill said the party is employing a "leave no precinct behind" action.  Precinct chairs and block captains are being recruited and deployed in all neighborhoods.

To combat problems like the three million Evangelical Christian voters who Woodfill alleges stayed home rather than going to vote in 2012, Woodfill proposes utilizing technology, as he acknowledges the party lags behind in that arena. In order to micro target voters, especially those with a particular issue that would move them to get to the polls and to work for candidates, Woodfill said HCRP should purchase software called "r Votes" - an advanced 
election system.  This is a product from a Silicon Valley software creator who successfully worked with Democrats in the 2008 election cycle.  The DNC eventually switched over to the system and used it in all 50 states.

rVotes was originally designed from the ground up, to empower the many State Political Parties and their allies, who all desperately needed a way better, unified election management system than the mediocre tools they were being provided from their National Party or any other vendor. Once you have rVotes as your core campaign and election technology, you will never understand how you worked without it. It will quickly become your ‘secret weapon’, and give you reliable tools that you previously only dreamed about. rVotes allows your organization to coordinate and run one or thousands of campaigns of any type or office, across any political boundaries within your entire state. Individual states are then tethered together to allow fully functional, national system, empowering your group with a centralized command and control center that’s actually a blast to use!

rVotes is also perfect for PACs, SuperPacs, Special Interest Groups, Church groups, the NRA – really any organization that wants to observe and/or influence the masses. Your data is all kept secure and private. By default, it is not accessible by any other campaign in the system. As the ‘parent’ organization, however, you can easily coordinate and control the efforts of all campaigns within the entire state that you oversee. You can instantly respond to the amazing details you can now see about your voters within all the sub-campaigns — down to the tiniest race for “Town Dog Catcher”.
Woodfill believes that time is of the essence and Harris County cannot not sit around and wait for the national party or the state party to get on board with this software.  He sent several people from the local party headquarters to Austin to learn about the software.  If heard correctly, Woodfill said the software purchase and implementation would involve a contractor with a 2 year contract and a price tag of $500,000.  He said he is meeting with donors next week and also hopes the state party will kick in to finance the venture.

To raise money for the local party, Woodfill touts the annual Lincoln Day Dinner, which brought in $150,000 this year and also the 12 For 12 program.  A donor commits to donating $12 a month to the party. 

Woodfill concentrated on growing the party through coalition building with the African America community.  While acknowledging the need to build coalitions with Hispanic and Asian communities, he spoke of the work being done by two long time party activists - Bill Calhoun and Mona Lisa in the African American community.  He noted that the African American voter pool is the 2nd largest by race.  The program put together is called TICKET - Target vacant precinct, Identify voter file, Contact, Keep in contact, Energize and Incentivize, and Train and develop chairs and candidates.  He noted that Texas doesn't identify race on voter records and Texas doesn't register voters by party.  With 25 precinct chairs now, the goal is to increase the number of African American precinct chairs to 100, and to have 100 delegates to the state convention.

Woodfill mentioned he is moving away from using the term "outreach" in favor of "connecting with the community".  

Woodfill spoke of working with the Liberty Caucus members, as well as Tea Party members. He spoke of a mentorship program that pairs judges with African American, Hispanic and Asian youth.  He spoke about the town hall meetings he has been conducting around the county.  

Under the name of "Integrated Conservatism" Woodfill said he wants to unite economic conservative and social conservatives to work together to put Republicans into office. He wants to draft conservative candidates who represent all communities.

On September 5, there will be a signing party for judicial candidates at the Westin Galleria.  He noted that this event was booked the farthest in advance that it ever has been in the past.

So, all of the above was included in Woodfill's presentation and speech to the crowd.  The two areas of breaking news as far as surprises go, for me, were the $500,000 price tag and proposed expenditure for the new - to us - software program and person to implement it (contractor) and the fact that he so casually incorporated it into the presentation.  Where did all of this come from?  Who is behind the idea and what is to be gained by those involved - particularly financially speaking.  We know the county party is usually strapped for cash.  Why hasn't this process been more transparent?

The second area of concern was the coalition building with the African American community plans but very little said about Hispanic or Asian coalition building measures.  The Asian community is the fastest growing community in Houston, though you would think it was the Hispanic community.  Traditionally, Asian Americans have been natural Republican voters.  This community should be a priority for the local party leadership.  Growing African American voter participation for our candidates is fine but it is a tough slog, especially in the near future.  Calhoun and Chambers are to be commended for their efforts, but, to be blunt here, they have been working this issue for quite some time with little proven results. Perhaps a foundation can be made but the growth that local Republican candidates will need in the next few elections will not be seen through the African American community in Harris County.

It is of concern that Woodfill continues to think that the 2010 election cycle is the new normal, rather than the 2008 and 2012 ones where Republican suffered losses.  Most who study elections think, as Judge Emmett does, that 2010 is an unusual case, not the new norm.  The Tea Party had a hand in the 2010 election successes for Republicans, as it was the fresh and newly enthusiastic voting crowd but that enthusiasm has evaporated in large part  now and cannot be counted on for reliable success at the polls.

Woodfill did not state that he is running for re-election.  He did, however, make a point of stating that he wants to "work with everyone" in the next elections. I'll leave it to you to determine what that means. No other declared or rumored candidate challengers against Woodfill in the upcoming primary race were present.  That was a mistake and a missed opportunity. Woodfill is not present frequently at events where the audience has the chance to ask questions.  This Power Point presentation is professional and loaded with numbers and facts.  Woodfill is a good cheerleader for the county party - which is, after all, at the top of his job description.  


josparke said...

"To get out the vote in 2014, Woodfill said the party is employing a "leave no precinct behind" action. Precinct chairs and block captains are being recruited and deployed in all neighborhoods."

He left those behind a long time ago...

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