Texas GOP leaders react to new chair, sweeping policy proposals for Lone Star State

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The Republican Party of Texas (RPT) is days away from publishing their official policy platform proposing sweeping reforms within the state, after a weekend of deliberation and a new state chairman election. 

Fox News Digital spoke with several prominent Republicans across the state to get their thoughts on the new platform and new chairman. 

Abraham George, a former GOP chair from Collin County, received endorsements from former Chair Matt Rinaldi, Attorney General Ken Paxton and a number of state representatives before beating party Vice Chair Dana Myers in a six-way race.

“Going into the November election, my goal is to work and ensure we gain more seats in the Texas House and Senate,” George told Fox News Digital. “We have Ted Cruz and Donald Trump on the ballot, those campaigns are very important to the RPT, and we are working on strategy, fundraising, and execution.”

George is taking the helm of a party that is deeply divided and relying on an increasingly smaller pool of donors — notably, a massive reliance on West Texas oil billionaires Tim Dunn and Farris Wilk, whose donations have reportedly ballooned to 25% of the party’s income via $450,000 from Dunn’s Hexagon Partners LTD & $350,000 from Defend Texas Liberty Pac. In April’s federal filing, the RPT reported an income of $2.8 million since 2023, three quarters of what the party previously had raised in the 2019-2020 cycle. 

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“I’m not worried about it, but I think my job as the new chairman is to expand that pool to the next group of people,” George said. “I haven’t had a chance to talk to these big donors, or any of the donors honestly, but we’re going to build financial committees where we can actually have fundraising throughout the state of Texas without depending on one or two people.”

“However, big donors are always important to the party because they can bring in a huge amount of money from just a phone call away. But I don’t want us to be the party of a few individuals, but the party of grassroots.” 

In his address at the convention, Texas Senator John Cornyn called for unity, “What we got here in Texas is too important to squander by fighting the fights of the past as opposed to looking forward to winning in November.”  

While there is always speculation about a blue Texas, George said he does not see a threat coming from the left anytime soon. 

“I don’t see a huge threat honestly,” George countered. “Grassroots are energized, there are more volunteers for the Republican Party than ever before. South Texas is moving towards us, we’re starting to pick up seats in those areas, and we’re going to be working hand in hand with the county chairs there. I think we’re in a great place to start. I don’t think we’re going blue anytime soon, although a lot of people like to talk about it.” 

Several local party leaders and state representatives felt similarly. Williamson County Chairwoman Michelle Taff Evans told Fox News Digital, “The biggest threat to the Republican majority is complacency, both on the part of the elected officials and the voters. I think the RPT division is most deeply felt by those who are losing control of the party, who see the grassroots as a threat to their long-held power, and who fear populism.” 

One of the more ambitious proposals in the new RPT platform is closing primaries, thereby allowing only Republicans to vote in Republican primaries. “I think closing primaries was one of the most important policy achievements of convention,” George explained. “My job now is to go ahead and secure that. We are in conversation with legal counsel and I expect that to be the major thing to happen over the next few months.”

Detractors are concerned that this could entirely surrender the RPT to the hard right-wing of the party. The moderate speaker of the Texas House, Dade Phelan, recently won a razor-thin victory against Trump-backed Dave Covey in a runoff election. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick attributed Phelan’s victory to the open primary system, saying “The only way Dade Phelan, who doubled down on appointing Democrat chairs in his recent campaign, can be re-elected Speaker is by a handful of a small minority Republicans and a huge majority of Democrats.” 

The most consequential proposal, however, comes in the form of a new constitutional amendment. The proposed amendment would require a state office holder to win a majority of Texas’ countries in a proposal similar to the electoral college. Given the GOP’s reliance on low-populated, but numerous, rural counties, this would make a Democratic statewide victory virtually impossible. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott carried 235 out of 254 counties in 2022 despite only winning the popular vote by +10%. Legal experts expect this to be challenged under the Voter Rights Act, although the platform also calls for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act.   

“I think it’s great, they have eight [policy focuses] that they’re highlighting. I will be focused on school choice. I think we have a huge opportunity to get that done,” state Rep. Caroline Harris Davila told Fox News Digital, speaking on the platform’s alignment with legislative priorities. “We want to be the top of the list for education in Texas, and whether it’s public schools, great private schools, we need to make sure parents have everything they can to get their kids the best education possible.”  

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“The legislative priorities haven’t been published yet, but I expect it’ll be about closing our borders and election integrity is going to be major for us,” George said.

Not all Republicans are optimistic about the results of the election and the direction of the party. Travis County Chair Matt Mackowiak, who ran for election against George, told Fox News Digital, “RPT needs competent leadership for the first time in five years. I doubt we will see that. The RPT needs to unify the party, register voters for the first time in years, raise $5 million as quickly as possible, support our targeted races, and win elections. Next year they will work to advance the platform and legislative priorities.”

“I think Republican voters are yearning for decisive action against federal incompetence with regard to the border and federal overreach with regards to our civil liberties,” Taff Evans said.

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“My advice to the next chair is to always remember that the party should serve the people, not the politicians, and always stand on principle,” former RPT Chairman Matt Rinaldi told Fox News Digital.