Texas Republicans: Some want to nix red light cameras, property taxes, even officials

June 11–TexasRepublicans have their eyes on the prize.

That’s the November election, where they believe their candidates up and down the ballot will continue to reassert their dominance and keep the state bright red.

“The blue wave isn’t coming yet,” said Bill Eastland, of Arlington. “I don’t know if it is ever coming.”

Thousands of Republicans will gather in San Antonio this week for their every-other-year state convention and work to craft a guide for their party that could touch on issues such as censuring elected officials, eliminating property taxes, banning red light cameras and more.

Many say arguments and disagreements are expected, especially on hot-button issues such as choosing the best person to guide the party.

But when all is said and done, and Republicans head home Saturday, members should be united and ready to work together to find success in November.

“There are going to be hot debates,” Eastland said. “When you are the majority party, you always have disagreements. You can afford to do that.

“When we come out of the convention, we will be united,” he said. “Just because we have disagreements, that does not mean we will not go out and elect our candidates. We will.”

The Texas Republican state convention runs through Saturday at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio.

Top issues?

The party’s ever-evolving platform, often known to draw national attention, is an outline of the party’s beliefs that candidates do not always, nor are required, to follow.

The lengthy document has drawn media attention in recent years for positions such as supporting reparative therapy to help gay Texans reject their homosexual lifestyle and determining which restrooms transgender Texans may use.

“Party platforms, although often ignored by candidates on the trail, are used as purity tests for nomination fights in the future,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “What goes in the platform this year will guide next cycle’s candidates vetting.”

Here’s a look at some of the issues that originated locally and could be considered for the GOP party platform:

Censuring elected officials: Tarrant County Republicans this year approved resolutions censuring GOP U.S. Reps. Kay Granger of Fort Worth, Michael Burgess of Pilot Point, Kenny Marchant of Coppell and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn because they all approved the omnibus spending measure this year. A similar resolution to censure President Trump for the same reason died.

These proposals now head to the state convention, where delegates from across the state may weigh in on the issue.

While controversial, some say censuring any official likely won’t have a lasting impact unless the party convinces the Texas Legislature to change the law and put teeth into these rebukes, such as preventing anyone censured by the party from running for an elected post in the next primary election.

Republican Mona Bailey, a local delegate, plans to pass out anti-censure literature at the convention.

“I don’t think it’s good for us as Republicans,” she said. “I think we are handing Democrats (a gift) when we do that.”

Closing the primaries: Republicans have long said they believe some Democrats cross party lines during primary elections to vote for candidates most likely to lose in the general election. Now some are calling for closed primaries and requiring Texans to register with the state and declare the party they belong to, something not now required.

Preserving religious liberty: One potential plank would require that “all places of worship be free of all civil purview, legal process and public taxation on the religious uses of their property and that no citizen shall be deprived of their religious liberty and the free exercise thereof.”

Ending property tax collection. “Be it resolved, no Texas citizen homeowners should be forced to pay property tax on their primary homestead,” according to another local proposal. Instead, members say, state and local officials should reconfigure taxing and funding mechanisms for the government and schools.

Making English-only ballots: Some members want to eliminate requirements that ballots be printed not just in English, but also in Spanish, Vietnamese and other languages dominant across the state. Instead, some want the party to ask state lawmakers “to author and promote legislation negating the requirement for multi-language ballots and interpreters for elections,” according to a platform proposal.

Turning off red light cameras: Many continue to call for these cameras to be turned off in communities such as Fort Worth, where a petition to do that is underway. This platform proposal asks the Legislature to “enact legislation that bans all Photo Enforcement ticket cameras, such as red light cameras, speed cameras, and cameras on buses” in Texas.

Guiding the party

One of the biggest battles expected is determining which of the two candidates — chairman James Dickey or challenger Cindy Asche, whose father, Bill Crocker, previously served on the Republican National Committee — will guide the party into the future.

Dickey was picked last year to guide the party after then-chairman Tom Mechler resigned.

Party faithful say this election may determine which faction of Republicans — conservatives or moderates — will guide the party.

“This is a big deal right now,” said Kaye Moreno, a delegate from Fort Worth.

Some describe Dickey, who has the support of several Tea Party groups, as a Libertarian-leaning Republican.

And they call Asche, who gained support from groups such as the Texas Federation of Republican Women and Mechler himself, a more establishment Republican.

“A principal focal point of the Republican Convention will be (this) election,” said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University. “Dickey should be able to obtain re-election, but to do so will need to engage in a concerted effort; that is, it isn’t going to be a cakewalk for him.”

No matter who wins, or what fights arise during the conventions, Republicans say they must put those behind them when they come home.

“I hope, at the end of it all, that we are in unity, working together in November, focused, motivated and strong,” said Anne Gebhart, a delegate from Bedford who is running for a post on the State Republican Executive Committee. “I want to see us working to put all of our efforts into keeping Texas red.

“I feel as a party we are very strong. and I don’t anticipate us having an issue in November,” she said. “But we always need to be keeping our eye on the ball.”

This article provided by NewsEdge.