The 2020 Republican Party of Texas (RPT) state convention was in chaos before it even began.
But according to Chairman James Dickey, as of Saturday evening, the convention has made progress on its top priorities of nominating delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention as well as electors for the presidential Electoral College.
Less than a week before the convention was scheduled to begin, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner prompted the termination of the convention center’s contract with the party.
The party challenged the measure in multiple lawsuits, but ultimately, the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) voted to hold the convention virtually and the party proceeded with that decision.
On Saturday morning, the convention began online with the first general session.
That session, which was supposed to adjourn at 9:00 a.m., based on a schedule given to delegates yesterday, did not adjourn until around noon.
Besides the speeches given by the candidates for RPT chair, vice-chair, and national committeeman and committeewoman, some of the delegates also cast a vote for the convention chair.
Besides Dickey, three other nominations were made for the convention chair: Dickey’s two opponents for RPT chair, Allen West and Amy Hedtke, and former chairman Steve Munisteri.
According to Dickey, West and Munisteri both declined the nomination.
In the vote on Saturday morning, Dickey won with 2,462 votes, while Hedtke received 420.
The combined tally of 2,882 is much smaller than the actual number of delegates, which is over 9,000.
While some delegates may not have voted, many others say they were completely unable to vote, not having received their convention credentials and access to the online voting system.
A significant number of frustrated delegates wanted to put the convention on hold until every delegate could receive their credentials.
One delegate made a motion to adjourn for thirty minutes to give more time for delegates to receive credentials, but that motion failed by a 1,761 to 1,041 vote, according to Dickey’s tally.
During her speech for RPT chair, Hedtke called for the convention to be paused until all delegates could receive credentials.
Likewise, West posted a video on social media calling for the convention to come to a halt.
“Chairman Dickey, you’re disenfranchising delegates. There’s still thousands out there who have not received their credentials and their voting code,” said West.
“Right now, it looks like — intentionally — you are only placating your supporters and you’re disenfranchising a lot of delegates,” West continued. “Right now, this is what we call in the United States military a Charlie Foxtrot. So shut it down and get it right.”
It is unclear how many delegates were able to get their credentials and if they were able to do so in time to participate in their respective meetings.
Even through Saturday evening, some in the party were complaining that they had not yet received their credentials or access to voting.
Aside from the delays in credentialing, some delegates have allegedly encountered problems with the voting system that allows them to cast multiple votes.
The lengthy general session in the morning pushed the schedule back by three hours, but by the evening, the convention was at least five hours behind.
A second general session was scheduled for 3:30 p.m., but it never took place.
Around 8:45 p.m., Dickey published a video addressing the convention with an update.
“After a marathon and difficult day of congressional district caucuses, the vast majority of those caucuses have adjourned and we have successfully taken the critical first steps on electing our national delegates, alternates, and electors,” said Dickey.
Dickey said that no general session would happen on Saturday night to allow senate district caucuses to meet.
Instead, the general session would convene at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, and Dickey said that delegates would be provided with an updated schedule for the convention before then.
Dickey suggested that the virtual convention, rather than an in-person one, would allow for more time for delegates to consider the party platform and legislative conventions.
“We have always wanted to make sure that our platform and legislative priorities are not short-changed because of time constraints,” said Dickey.
“I look forward to turning the fact that we are not all in-person together with a time-certain deadline into the chance for all of us to provide the most well-considered input into our critical platform and legislative priority rank voting possible.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.