Updated: Mar 6, 2020
The Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Convention process occurs every two years, and is how the Republican grassroots determine the RPT Platform and priorities for each bi-annual Texas legislative session.
There are three stages at the state level, with a fourth stage at the national level every four years during Presidential election cycles:
Senate District (SD)/County Conventions
The State Convention
The Republican National Convention (every four years)
Two things happen at each stage, but the process is different at each level:
Resolutions for the Party Platform are debated and voted on
Delegates and Alternates to the next level convention are selected (except at the fourth stage, since there’s nothing higher)
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to go to all four stages, and I’ll break down the entire process below, step-by-step. These are generally applicable, but may vary county-to-county within the state, so always confirm with your county party first.
Note that to participate in the convention process, you must have voted in the party primary election, or take an oath of affiliation with the party.
Stage 1: Precinct Conventions
The Precinct Conventions is where it all starts. This is the grassiest and rootiest level of party grassroots engagement.
The date and location varies by county, so contact your county party for details. In some counties, Precinct Conventions are held in each individual precinct the night of the Primary Election (Tuesday, March 3), in others it’s anywhere between the Primary Election and the following weekend.
All Collin County Republican Precinct Conventions will be held the morning of Saturday, March 7th at 9:30 AM, with registration beginning at 8:30 AM, at Cottonwood Creek Church in Allen (1015 Sam Rayburn Tollway 75013). Every precinct in the county will gather at the same location and be separated by precinct.
To be a delegate at your Precinct Convention, all you need to do is show up. As is the case at each level, two things happen here:
Resolutions: you may bring resolutions to be considered for the Party Platform. The delegates at the Precinct Convention will discuss and vote on each resolution to determine whether it will move to the next level, the SD/County Convention
Delegate/Alternate Selection: those who wish to be a delegate to the SD/County Convention may apply at your Precinct Convention, or have someone apply on your behalf. Depending on your county, you may also be able to apply here to be a delegate to the State Convention, or may be able to do so on your county party's website, or with your county Nominations Committee. Most counties will have already determined Delegate/Alternate selections prior to the SD/County Conventions (discussed next)
Stage 2: Senate District/County Conventions
SD/County Conventions will be held across the state on Saturday, March 21.
The Collin County Senate District 8 Convention will be on Saturday, March 21 at the Preston Ridge campus of Collin College in Frisco Texas, in the Conference Center (9700 Wade Blvd., Frisco, TX 75035). The convention starts at 9:00 AM, with registration starting at 8:00 AM.
The Senate District 30 Convention will be held on the same day at the Collin College Higher Education Center (3452 TX-Spur 399, McKinney 75069). The Convention starts at 2:00 PM, with registration starting at 1:00 PM .
Whether you have an SD Convention or a County Convention depends on where you live. Counties which are entirely in one SD will have a County Convention (these tend to be more rural). Counties which are split by two or more SDs will have SD Conventions.
The same two things happen at this level, but as I noted previously, it works a bit differently, and has a more involved process. Rather than being broken up by precinct, all delegates will debate and vote on resolutions as a body.
Resolutions: Before the SD/County Conventions, resolutions passed at the Precinct Conventions will go through a Resolutions Committee prior to the SD/County Convention. The committee will consolidate similar resolutions and vet them further, ultimately voting on which ones will be presented on the floor of the SD/County Convention. To be on this committee, you must apply in advance with your county party.
Delegate/Alternate Selection: This is typically where Delegate/Alternate selections to the next level, the State Convention, are announced, meaning that you must apply to go to the State Convention before your SD/County Convention. Be sure to check with your county party in advance to understand their process.
Stage 3: The Texas GOP State Convention
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and the RPT Convention is no exception, with several thousand Republicans from around Texas gathered together under one ginormous, well-armed roof.
Once again, the same two things work a bit differently here:
Resolutions: just as resolutions submitted at the Precinct Conventions had to be consolidated and vetted before moving to the SD/County Conventions, so too do those resolutions in turn need to be consolidated and advanced by the State Convention Platform Committee before coming to the floor of the State Convention. To be on this committee, you must apply in advance at the state level. Mark Dorazio was recently named Chairman of this committee for the 2020 State Convention.
Delegate/Alternate Selection: Delegates and Alternates to the National Convention are pledged to a particular candidate, based on their showing in the Primary Election. If you wish to attend the National Convention as a Delegate or Alternate, this is the place to do it, and there are two ways: 1) Apply as a delegate or alternate for consideration by the National Nominations Committee. This must be done online prior to the State Convention 2) Run for Delegate/Alternate in your Congressional District Caucus (this was how I was elected as an Alternate for Trump in 2016). In the 3rd Congressional District, we had 3 Delegate seats, and a corresponding 3 Alternate seats. Candidates may give a short speech on why they are running, then all the Delegates present in the Congressional District Caucus meeting at the State Convention vote for each seat. Many candidates come prepared with campaign material and everything.
Stage 4 (Final): The Republican National Convention
This is the big leagues, where the Republican Candidate for President of the United States is selected, and where the Platform of the Republican National Committee is adopted. This is a four-day event, and you will be active all day, and well into most nights.
The 2020 Republican National Convention will take place in Charlotte, NC, August 24-27.
Note: if you plan to go to the RNC, be prepared to cover the cost of the trip, including airfare, hotel, any ground transportation, captive-audience-priced food, and incidentals. The Texas Delegation will reserve a block of hotel rooms, and you will have to pay for your room. The rates are good for the hotel selected, but it's usually a fairly swanky hotel, and priced accordingly. Alternately, you can choose to stay at your own location. In 2016 I elected to stay with a friend who lives in Cleveland, who was also my guest to the Convention.
Delegates and Alternates are paired together for specific seats (e.g. Congressional District 3, Place 3). Customarily, Delegates will swap credentials with their Alternates to give them a little time on Convention floor when no critical votes are taking place.
This event garners significant news coverage, and if you don't have a camera shoved in your face at least once, then you're doing something wrong. I was filmed eating a turkey sandwich, of all things.
It's the experience of a lifetime, and is where all the prior months of grassroots activity across the nation culminates, but if you don't get in on the ground floor, then you'll miss the boat entirely. So whether you want to go to the Republican National Convention, want to add/remove, or defend a plank in the Party Platform, or just want to make your voice heard at the local level, I encourage everyone to attend your Precinct Conventions.