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September 17, 2014      5:10 PM

SB: Meet the candidates for RPT Chairman

Outcome of race to replace Munisteri will be critical to the long-term health of the Republican Party of Texas

In a development that’s been brewing for months and was first reported Monday night by QR, three political leaders from around the state have now announced they’re running to succeed Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri when he steps down. Munisteri, who has done an admirable job of calming the waters after the tumultuous tenures of former RPT Chairs Cathie Adams and Tina Benkiser, has said that he would like to honor the request of Attorney General Greg Abbott to stay in place until The Legislature wraps up its regular session next year. But Munisteri could leave as soon as December. “We’ll see how I feel after the elections,” he said.  

One of Munisteri’s main messages to the party faithful over the years has been that they must do a better job of outreach to women and minorities. Among other things, the chairman has become known for his colorful presentations to Republican groups about demographic shifts and the corresponding implications for the party’s fortunes. When Battleground Texas entered the scene with promises of making this a competitive state, Munisteri’s smart answer has been that Texas is already a battleground, it’s just that Republicans are winning the battle. After all, demographics represent opportunity, not destiny.

Significantly, it was Munisteri’s inclusive message and outreach that inspired state officeholders to come together and retire the party’s long-festering debt caused by Benkiser and Adams. Most contributors profoundly disagreed with party chairs picking sides in primaries.

During an SREC meeting this past weekend, Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Wade Emmert, former Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill, and RPT Treasurer Tom Mechler all announced they’re running to take the reins from Munisteri when he gives them up. They have competing visions for how to approach a leadership role and, while they may be well-known in their respective communities, they have not ascended to statewide prominence.

By Scott Braddock