Sunday, June 10, 2012

Texas 2012 GOP Convention for SD-14 SREC: what happened and why

First, I'd like to commend the very remarkable new generation of Republican leaders who elected me to the SREC in 2010, many of whom are still deeply involved and returned in 2012 through the precinct caucusing we won on April 21st.   I can now clearly see that the old generation of Travis GOP leadership who has controlled the TCRP for decades inadvertently made it possible for me to win in 2010, then deliberately made it impossible for me to win in 2012.  Ironically, they deserve credit for my victory, and for my defeat, from the viewpoint of pure politics.  They deserve credit for having a long standing base of power - built over several decades, and being able to motivate just enough of them to regain their power over choosing the SREC member; I lost by just 18 votes, in spite of conducting a campaign of similar effort and expense to what I did in 2010.  Without precinct caucusing, I would have lost by 4 or 5 times that margin.

What happened is this.  In 2010, I took the spring break week off for a big trip to Alaska, and missed the entire SD-14 Convention - all the temporary committee meetings and the Convention Day itself when flights were overbooked and I was stranded in Seattle.  My friends pointed out that if you're running against two strong, credible challengers for SREC (Dan McDonald and Roger Borgelt), you're probably doomed to failure just for missing the most important Republican meeting of the two year campaign season.  I knew that and agreed with them.  What I didn't know, until just this past April (2012), was the 2010 temporary rules committee had greatly improved PRECINCT CAUCUSING, allowing far more state delegates and alternates to be chosen FROM THE PRECINCTS - that is, the grassroots.  The 2010 precinct caucus rule allowed an unprecedented number of true grassroots delegates - nominated by local precincts, instead of being nominated by the at-large committee, to attended the 2010 State Convention.  The psychology of this is obvious; persons selected by a committee understandably feel some loyalty to the person who holds the power to nominate them, and that loyalty will influence their judgment.  At the precinct level, individual delegates feel more empowered because it is their own local friends and neighbors agreeing - ONLY AMONG THEMSELVES, without party boss oversight, who will represent them.  These grassroots delegates shocked everyone (including me) by electing me to the SREC in 2010 by a slim margin of 5 votes.  The old generation of leadership were litterally crying, with faces of shock and disbelief.  The "grassroots" spoke, and the old generation of leadership was extremely angry at what they said!

The solution to correct the 2010 mistake of the grassroots was simple - put "Gandolf", the most amazing guru, grand poobah, trusted and respected dean of Texas Republican politics, Bill Crocker, in charge of the SD-14 temporary convention, and strip ALL power of the grassroots by eliminating ALL precinct caucusing from the grassroots, going back to having all State Delegates coming from one at-large nominating committee, the members of which were appointed by, and loyal to, one man - Mr. Crocker.  Mr. Crocker refused to allow me or any other person interested in keeping the precinct caucusing supplemental rule from serving on his Rules Committee ("his", because he had exclusive authority to name all the members), and the committee unanimously voted to eliminate precinct caucusing in spite of 12 out of 14 persons testifying at that committee asking for precinct caucusing to remain.  (That committee also concluded all its busines in only one evening, instead of two evenings as was publicly advertised through announcements).  While other metro counties like Harris and Bexar had been using precinct caucusing ever since the mid-1990s, Travis only reluctantly moved to the precinct caucusing rule in 2006 (keeping the rule in 2008 and improving it in 2010 as well).  The rationale for stripping the grassroots of their power to nominate their own delegates in precinct caucusing in 2012 was remarkably shallow and dishonest, and precinct caucusing was eventually saved (at great expense to both sides of the debate), but that's covered in my earlier blog.  Again - NO OTHER METRO COUNTY in Texas attempted Mr. Crocker's dishonest rationale ("it's too complex...") to eliminate precinct caucusing and consolidate nomination power through appointed committee.

In spite of retaining precinct caucusing, Mr. Crocker's at-large nominations committee still retained control and made a deliberate, successful effort to screen at-large delegates based on their loyalty to incumbency power and party bosses, screening out persons of clear conscience and loyaltly only to the Constitution and the Texas platform (i.e., "principles").  You could see the success of this strategy on the number of "Samuelson" stickers on the Alternate seating rows before the SD-14 votes.  The nominations committee left around 100 alternate slots open, which allowed them to leave off numerous Travis precinct chairs and other voters and activists.

I congratulate Randy and Davida on winning the positions and pray they will yield to the petitions and just demands of the grassroots, while predicting that grassroots will be underserved.  My two years of service offered several key votes I would categorize as bright lines which illustrated this truth:  "you cannot serve two masters".  Our overall Republican political contest, and the one I just lost, really has nothing to do with the most crucial issues which WE ALL AGREE ON.  It has everything to do with courage and integrity.  Will political leadership stand with a clear conscience before God to truly serve principle and the rule of law, or will it bend to serve the rule of power and party bosses?

That question will continue to be asked, as it has been for thousands of years.  As for me, and those who are true friends of the cause of liberty, we will continue to unapologetically serve God's rule of law with the best conscience we can -- because we answer to Him, not the political boss, and we will never insult the Lord through the idolatry of kissing the ring of power.

Blessings to all who labor on to restore our Republic!  Never give up!!

Don Zimmerman

1 comment:

Alan C said...

Congrats on making it to Tampa as part of the Texas delegation. I'll see you out there! Please send your Mom my congrats as well, as I believe I heard her name called.

And thanks for two great years on the SREC. You're what a public servant should be. "Patriot" is a derivative of "compatriot." And you are a true example of what it means to be a patriot, speaking on behalf of the rights and freedoms of your fellow citizens. The grassroots. Thanks for not compromising, for leaving a legacy and a path for the rest of us to follow.