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“HCRP Chairman Job Interview”-Additional Questions

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Clear Lake Area Republicans PAC Co-Hosted a HCRP Chairman Job Interview on Monday, February 5, 2018, with the SE Texas Young Republicans, San Jacinto Republican Women, and Republican Liberty Caucus Organizations.

Question No. 1:

Where do you stand on illegal immigration and the wall?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
As HCRP Chair, my personal opinion doesn’t matter as I would advocate for the platform and for the desire of the body. I oppose illegal immigration, and want the border to be secured by all available means.

Paul Simpson’s Response:
Our immigration laws should be enforced. We should also control the velocity of legal immigration, so that those who emigrate here may become fully assimilated as Americans so they and their children can share in the American dream, not trapped on the lower rungs of life. We should build the wall where physically feasible, to impede illegal immigration; enhance border security and enforcement; and end the aspects of our immigration system (e.g., visa lottery, unlimited chain migration) that do not serve our country’s long-term interests.

Question No. 2:

Every Republican says they are a “Conservative Republican”. What makes you a Conservative Republican?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
My positions on matters most to Conservatives, including individual liberty, accountability, limited government, fiscal restraint, and the protection of life.

Paul Simpson’s Response:
Since at least my teen years I have been devoted to the principles of limited government, fiscal/economic conservatism, traditional social values (including being pro-life from conception and traditional marriage), free markets and capitalism, individual liberty, and the values and institutions that made America the shining light on a hill, formed under the constitutional ideal of a democratic republic with government restrained by federalism and separation of powers, a national government having only designated enumerated powers. and people free to exercise their inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Further, I agree with the principles stated at the beginning of the platform of the Republican Party of Texas.

Question No. 3:

How are the Primary Election preparations going?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
From my understanding there is still a huge need for election judges.

Paul Simpson’s Response:
On schedule and under budget. The main remaining task is recruiting election judges in a relatively small number of polling locations. Having overseen the County’s largest Republican primary in history in 2016, I am confident the 2018 GOP primary will proceed smoothly. The new iPad poll books should greatly speed the process of checking in voters. And new legislation we got the Legislature to adopt in 2017 now allows us to give notices of precinct conventions to voters at early voting locations. Because early voters are a large majority of the total voters, we expect this to increase awareness and attendance at precinct conventions after the local polls close on election day.

Question No. 4:

What do you think about getting HCRP into digital 21st Century? Utilizing technologies to network and reduce “Warehouse” for HQ’s location, tele-meetings, etc…

Chris Carmona’s Response:
I fully support the use of all available technologies to expand our presence and digital footprint. As we are able to expand via digital means, we will still need to focus on retail politics, but the need for storage facilities become less.

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
The premise of this question is not accurate. The Harris County GOP is the most technologically advanced county party in the country. Our Executive Director, Ben McPhaul, was formerly digital director for both the Abbott campaign and the Republican Party of Texas, under Steve Munisteri. We work hand-in-hand with the Abbott campaign and the RNC, and contract directly with the same data analysts who handle data analytics for the RNC. In addition, the Party regularly uses remote broadcast and communications capabilities for many events and meetings, and phone-from-home and other technologies to facilitate volunteer activism.
Because relationships and geography both matter a lot in real-life politics, having a physical presence in diverse locations is vital to success in Harris County, given its area, over 4 million people, and travel challenges. And the only “warehouse” the Party has is the main headquarters (soon to move to a new location with better parking, lighting, & facilities), which is used continually for meetings, training, and events that help build the Party.

Question No. 5:

Where is the SE Regional Office in Clear Lake?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
Bay Area Blvd, staffed by newly rehired Tanner Leteff

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
433 Bay Area Blvd. in Houston (not Webster). Info is on the HCRP website here. (Tanner Leteff recently returned as the HCRP Field Rep for that office, after working a stint for Rep. Briscoe Cain.)

Question No. 6:

What do you think about the HQ’s and Regional Office spaces?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
If they are going to exist, then they need to be more than just a storage unit for campaign material and a place to phone bank. We should be utilizing them as Republican Engagement Centers where they are resources for the community.

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
See the answer to Number 4, above. When I took office, the Party had one headquarters inside the Loop on the 2d story of a small office building. The Party now has five full-time staffed locations around the County (more during campaign season) to support our volunteers in their neighborhoods with training, meeting space, training, supplies, training, and physical availability.

Question No. 7:

How will you improve Precinct Chairman Engagement?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
Providing goals, tools and resources, and then allowing them to work as they see fit to build up there areas. But most importantly, I will ensure follow is taking place and also make sure that all ideas are constantly exchanged and incorporated. I will listen to concerns and act on them, not just ignore and dismiss.

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
It’s not clear to me what this is asking The Party’s “engagement” operations seek to expand the GOP into communities that are not traditionally Republican, at both the grassroots and organizational levels. Over the last year, we have also designed and implemented a three-stage Precinct Chair certification to train and motivate precinct chairs and other activists in recruiting, motivating, and mobilizing volunteers, reaching voters, and getting out the vote.

Question No. 8:

What is your plan to win across the board and down the ballot in 2018 and what will your message be?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
Please visit http://www.ChrisCarmona.com for a more complete overview. But one thing that will happen in 2018 that has not been happening is feedback and suggestions from candidates, elected officials, activists and stake holders will be encouraged and will not be tuned out or turned down.

Paul Simpson’s Response:
As to message: It is premature to concoct some particular wording we think will work, without knowing what voters will care about next fall. In 2018, most of our candidates will be incumbents. So, as always, we must learn what matters to voters, and address those concerns by showing how our conservative principles provide the best solutions to our challenges.
As to the 2018 campaign: The 2018 election cycle is one phase in the constant battle to keep Harris County Republican. So the Party has both short- and long-term challenges to win in 2018 and beyond. This addresses the short-term question of 2018.
Before going into battle, we must know the opposition, and understand the landscape.
The Opposition:
The Democrats are energized for 2018. This is partly natural, in the usual swing of politics after one party wins the White House. In addition, due to the shifting electorate that 2016 made clear, Democrats see great opportunity–here, and nationwide–in Republican-leaning voters who did not vote for President Trump in 2016. They have thus targeted 23 congressional districts – including our own CD7–that voted for Hillary Clinton but elected a Republican to Congress. That are pouring money and resources in that and other districts (even CD2, with Ted Poe’s retirement), and can’t be underestimated. (And as recent reports and analyses have highlighted, Hurricane Harvey and re building efforts raise will have unforeseen the political impact that are currently unpredictable.)
We have multiple strategies already in operation for fighting the Democrats in 2018, including “battlespace preparation” of key issues from now through November that will build support and motivate Republicans; highlighting the importance of local government, to focus voters on non-national issues; and pounding on Democrat failures to show the importance of electing Republicans, and the capability and nimbleness to capitalize on issues when they arise, to name few. Much of this is with independents & wavering Republicans in mind.
The Landscape:
In 2014, we modernized and expanded our general election campaigns from what had been primarily judicial candidate-funded campaigns to a broader, grassroots-centered, unified campaign involving all GOP candidates. This approach enabled in 2014 the first countywide Republican sweep since 2006, the most countywide Republicans ever elected, the first Republican win of every countywide vote since 2004, and the first time the GOP gubernatorial candidate won Harris County since 2002. More significant, down-ballot candidates for the first time on average outpolled the top of the ticket.
We expanded the unified campaign in 2016, even including numerous officeholders not on the ballot. The 2016 general election results were disappointing, due to the anomaly of the top of the ticket getting the fewest votes, as other Republican strongholds across the nation experienced. Such disruption of Republican voters, exacerbated by local and outside Democrat groups pouring money and outspending us by over $1.5 million, greatly reduced straight-ticket Republican votes. Nevertheless, down-ballot candidates still outperformed the top of the ticket, e.g., Republican congressional candidates overperformed the top of the ticket by over 63,000 votes, while Democrat congressional races underperformed Hillary Clinton by some 55,000 votes.
So, the short answer is that Republican voters turned out in 2016, but did not vote Republican in major traces, or straight-ticket.
Another way we have prepared for 2018 has been by keeping up the fight in the elections between gubernatorial and presidential election years. There is no longer an “off-year” in Harris County. The County Party engaged in local “nonpartisan” races across Harris County in 2017, including Humble, Pasadena, Pearland, and Houston. We won many of those races, helping to elect Republican leadership in smaller cities across Harris County. This has been part of a larger strategy to expand the Party’s footprint and involvement in every part of Harris County, including Democrat turf.
With straight-ticket voting still in place for 2018, we must get Republicans who did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016 to vote Republican consistently again. We also have opportunity in voters who were not traditionally Republican but voted for Donald Trump, especially because the Democrat Party is rapidly abandoning them. In short, bring traditional Republicans home; keep new Trump Republicans.
We have been working since late 2016 to prepare for the 2018 general election, expanding the Party’s presence, capabilities, connections, organizations, technology, and more to find, persuade, and turn out voters who will elect Republicans in 2018. The unified campaign for 2018 is already underway, with regular and detailed planning, organizing, and coordination activities in progress since fall 2017.
As for the future, we can’t turn back now. We still have much work to do, including:
• Create recruitment task forces within the Party, distributed across the County and focused specifically on recruiting more precinct chairs year-round
• Establish more Republican micro-networks countywide, adapted to local communities of common interest
• Expand targeted engagement operations to connect and build relations with Republican-leaning leaders in existing organizations in diverse communities
• Continue to grow HCRP’s fundraising operations, including expanding a low-dollar-donation program
• Establish more permanent satellite offices where needed (e.g., Katy)
• Implement HCLC “placement” operations to supply young conservative activists motivated and trained to advance our principles and elect Republican candidates
• Continue intensifying precinct chair training to improve team-building and voter contact
• Keep improving and adopting ever-changing technology and systems
• Increase elected officials’ involvement with Party-building and recruiting

Question No. 9:

The down ballot candidates were destroyed in the 2016 Presidential Election, including EVERYONE on the ballot in Harris County. How will the HCRP get finances and resources to the down ballot candidates moving forward? Judges, etc….

Chris Carmona’s Response:
Have a joint judicial campaign that includes the candidates input and one that everyone can be proud of. Will also ensure that funds will be allocated towards clear messaging and branding that ensures the Republican brand is successful from top to bottom.

Paul Simpson’s Response:
The premise of this question is flawed, because the 2016 ticket vastly underperformed the down-ballot candidates, with the resulting downdraft on straight-ticket votes. In addition, see the answer to Question Number 8 above.
As for finances, the Party does not fund individual campaigns. The Party does raise funds to combine with countywide candidates help conduct our Unified Campaign. After I took office in 2014, the Party for the first time raised more money than the candidates. In 2016, the Party raised more than twice what the candidates contributed. With the first-ever full-time fundraiser on staff now (since August 2016), we have greatly expanded the Party’s ability to raise funds.
Given the money Democrats are pouring into Harris County, we must continue expanding the Party’s fundraising ability. Having recruited over 100 new major donors who gave half a million dollars in the first year our fundraiser was on staff, we are introducing new and innovative programs to continually expand our donor base.

Question No. 10:

What are your engagement plans for the party?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
Create and foster an environment that promotes constant civic engagement in all areas that do not traditionally vote republican. We need to become a fabric of these communities, not just drop in for parades and festivals. Using the Republican Engagement Center concept is a great start to getting us there.

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
Since I took office in June 2014, the Harris County GOP has ramped up engagement activities in numerous traditionally non-Republican communities, including multiple Asian communities. We have ongoing programs and volunteers dedicated to engagement, including designated Coordinators in different Asian communities; have for the first time a staffer devoted part-time to engagement activities and to support the volunteer efforts. We have thus budgeted and spent funds to support engagement activities, including event costs, materials, and promotion; have participated in Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani events and media; and actively worked with phone banking, blockwalking, and mail to support Bryan Chu in his 2016 Texas State Rep. race against Hubert Vo.
One of our latest projects is researching leadership of existing organizations in non-traditional Republican communities to identify those who may be amenable to getting more Republicans involved with their organizations.
We need to continue these efforts, and expand them, as well as build coalitions with community organizations, to keep making headway. The County GOP can also facilitate and encourage elected officials engaging with various communities, as we have been doing, through events but also through meaningful and substantive activities and programs.

Question No. 11:

How will you grow the party?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
Revamping our traditional media presence so that people know we exist. We must also not shy away from promoting what we stand for and stop being afraid to promote what we stand for and how we offer the best opportunity for you to achieve success. If people support the party, we want them involved.

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
See the prior answers to questions numbers 7, 8, and 9. In addition, There is great opportunity to engage with voters who are aligned with our values but have not traditionally voted Republican. We have begun such programs, and aim to continue growing them. This has included direct contacts and meetings with mayors and other elected officials on the eastern side of Harris County. We will expand that program and connect our Local Government Committees and other activists to be more directly engaged in those communities. The County Party also took the lead in recruiting members to form the new Baytown Republican Women’s Club that is starting in February 2018.
We have increased such efforts, and need to continue expanding our recent targeted engagement efforts aimed at non-traditionally-Republican and ethnic/demographic organizations. We have increased political, non-fundraising events, and need to continue expanding them around the County. Those contacts and others will give us more opportunities to connect Republicans with voters in more communities to build trust and to demonstrate how conservative principles and policies are best for them, their families, and their future.

Question No. 12:

How will you resolve the divisiveness and misinformation provided by the pay-to-play slates, including Dr. Hotze, Polland, Katy Christian Magazine and Terry Lowery?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
Too broad and vague of a question. However, I will say that Republicans are not monolithic and it is the diversity of our party that makes us great. Furthermore, “Pay to Play” has become so overused that It has lost its meaning. Almost all slates that screen and endorse operate under the same model for distribution of their materials. I have personally experienced the bias of some of these other “slates” not listed above as I was not even offered the opportunity to screen or interview with them so that they could protect the incumbent and his special interest groups.

Paul Simpson’s Response:
By once again defeating them, and exposing their motives, which are contrary to the Party’s. My opponent once argued against them, but now relies on them to drag him across the finish line, having no significant campaign of his own.
Meanwhile, the County Party has this cycle, for the third time, condemned misleading slates that purport to be official Republican guides, and particularly condemned any “slate” that may use, solicit or require any fee, payment, or contribution as a condition of making or publicizing said endorsement.” With the rise of alternative, legitimate slate mailers, the voters have more information on which to base their decisions.

Question No. 13:

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won Ft. Bend County while ALL Republican judicial candidates won too. How can we duplicate that down ballot success?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
We can create similar success by not attaching ourselves to a bad message and by promoting positive candidates and stars of the party rather than using all of the resources to try and promote only one or two troubled candidates.

Paul Simpson’s Response:
First, recognize that Harris County is not Fort Bend County. Harris County has been a battleground since at least 2006. Fort Bend is far more Republican, as is Montgomery County. Nevertheless, Clinton won Fort Bend in 2016. That shows what an unprecedented phenomenon the 2016 election was, when even Orange County, California voted for Clinton–the first time in 80 years it went Democrat.
As for down-ballot, our last two campaigns, in 2014 & 2016, were the first in which the down ballot candidates on average outperformed the top of the ticket, which is the reverse of norm. We have focused specifically on down-ballot races, and voter behavior going down-ballot. I am confident that, in 2018 as we did in 2014, for the first time in a decade, Republicans will sweep Harris County again,

Question No. 14:

What are they gonna do with Incumbent Candidates that recruit Democrats into our Conservative Primaries? Are they for closed Primaries?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
I have always been a huge proponent for recruiting people to vote for republicans, but I don’t just want them to vote for republicans in the primary, I want them to vote for republicans in November as well. I’m not for closed primaries just yet, as I like having the opportunity to convert as many people as possible to become republican or support republicans at all times. But I do not support the concept of inviting democrats into a republican primary only to invite them to vote for democrats in the general.

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
The premise is not supported by the actual facts, at least in Harris County. Texas law allows candidates to file to run with either party. Given the competitive battleground that is Harris County–and unlike the way things were during 1994 to 2004–Democrats do not hesitate to run in their own primaries.
If by “closed primaries” this question means allowing only certain voters to vote in the Republican primary, I oppose it. Many who were opposed to Donald Trump winning Republican primaries cooked up this scheme. However, President Trump attracted many new voters to the Republican Party.
We always need new voters to grow and win. For example, in the 2016 primary, almost half (46%) of Harris County Republican Primary voters — 150,000 people– had never voted in a Republican primary, and 93% had never voted in ANY primary. So our open primary system has allowed the GOP to identify and attract many new voters, especially many Donald Trump supporters who had not previously voted Republican.

Question No. 15:

If a new Chairman is elected in 2018, do you think it will ruffle up the HCRP and be in the best interest of the party and Candidates? Keeping in mind the change in administration and training from bottom up….

Chris Carmona’s Response:
Fortunately, I have been around the party infrastructure for nearly a decade now and most active people in the party will ensure a smooth transition to protect the candidates in November. However, contingency plans have been developed in the event there is pushback on a smooth transition. Bottom line, the candidates will be better served in the 2018 election with a new chairman who will take the party in an improved direction.

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
There would be great disruption.
When I took office as County Chair, I had been active with the Harris County GOP for some 30 years–20 of those as precinct chair–with stints as legal counsel and treasurer. I had also served as a project manager of multi-million-dollar oilfield construction projects, and headed various organizations, from a private school board, church councils, and a Boy Scout Troop, which gave me prior experience in managing organizations and overseeing multi-million-dollar fundraising operations. I was thus able to hit the ground running. That would not be the case this year, given my opponent’s lack of Party experience, demonstrated inability to raise money, and failure to show the ability to run a campaign, which the position of County Chair requires.

Question No. 16:

Mr. Carmona, your slogan “Time to Win Again” Since you’ve never won an election, how will you do that and what does your record say about your ability?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
C’mon…Really? Despite what misinformation out there, I have actually won multiple races within the Republican party. I have run campaigns where other conservatives were not willing to run, so what that says about my ability is that I have selflessly put myself out there for the Republican brand.

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
Slogans are easy. Doing is hard. You can’t win again if you’ve never won.

Question No. 17:

Paul has run for County Chair multiple times, at least 4 times as far as I know before he ever won, so maybe he should stop talking about the number of times that Carmona has run for office and lost. Carmona ran for much higher profile offices, Paul ran for the lowest profile office. How many times did each of you run for office and what position did you run for?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
I agree! Stop obsessing over my losses to avoid taking responsibility for your own failures.

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
I was elected the third time I ran for County Chair, in 2104, and was re-elected with almost 70% of the vote in the 2016 GOP Primary runoff.
Otherwise, I ran only for precinct chair ten times, and was overwhelmingly elected every time, including by 92% of the vote when I was opposed.

Question No. 18:

Why was the moderator verbally attacked towards the end of the program?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
I’m not sure what would trigger such a disrespectful lashing out against our gracious moderator, but I think it was completely unacceptable and uncalled for.

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
I asked the moderator if he would join us in helping defeat Democrats, in addition to attacking Republicans. He effectively declined to do so. Is that the “verbal attack” being referred to?

Question No. 19:

Since Harris County is the biggest metropolitan in the Gulf Coast Area, what if any plans do the HCRP have to work with surrounding counties on slate races such as the Texas Supreme Court?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
We have to maintain and grow our relationships in the contiguous counties, but we also have to regain our positon as the leader in the region.

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
This was asked at the forum. Please see the answers there. As noted, the Fort Bend and Montgomery County Chairs, whom my opponent claims to know, have endorsed my reelection.

Question No. 20:

Did Claver really make them play Rock Paper Scissors?

Chris Carmona’s Response:
It was actually my suggestion at the beginning of the forum as no one appears to carry coins anymore. But there is something about calming the tension in the air with a childhood game, so I was happy I was able to provide people with that moment.

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
Yes.

 

Please submit a closing statement as to why you should be or continue to be the HCRP Chairman.

Chris Carmona’s Response:
We cannot continue to be obsessed with the past and products of the past. We have to be forward thinking and look to the future with big ideas and bold action. I am the only one in the race that is able to look to the future with optimism and not focus on perceived enemies of the past. We as a party have talked too long about Unity. In order to finally bring Unity to the party, we must elect someone who has the ability to reach out and work with all factions within Harris County Republican circles. In this race, I am the only one who can do that and my broad support reflects that ability.

Paul Simpson’s Response: 
I believe in a broad-based effort of volunteers, activists, donors – folks who come together to build coalitions to win. And I practice what I preach. My campaign has a broad coalition of volunteers, donors, and activists — like all my campaigns and the Party, constantly growing our team.
Real campaigns recruit volunteers, raise funds, deliver a coherent message, mobilize grassroots, deploy state-of-the art technology, and reach voters everywhere. My campaign does all that and more–as does the Harris County Republican Party.
Those essential elements are utterly lacking from my opponent’s campaign. Weekly email blasts don’t win elections. Slogans are easy. Action is hard. You can’t “win again” if you’ve never won.
It’s especially wrong for a candidate to depend on endorsements of self-appointed power broker slates to be elected County Chair. That’s not the way to build a party. We can’t return to a broke shrinking Party, controlled by a handful of power brokers. Our Party is better than that. We deserve better than that.
I am the only candidate for County Chair who:
• Has not run and lost for three other offices.
• Has pledged not to take paid court appointments while County Chair.
• Has consistently supported the Republican platform since 2014.
• Supported our entire Republican ticket in 2016.
• Did not declare the entire Republican Party “bankrupt” weeks before the November 2016 election.
I never have given up, and never will.
I am the only candidate for County Chair who can build the campaign needed to once again sweep the County as we did in 2014. That’s why leaders as diverse as County Judge Ed Emmett, Radio Czar Michael Berry, Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton, District Clerk Chris Daniel, and over 300 Republican precinct chairs, officeholders, and committed Republicans have endorsed my reelection, to lead our party against the Democrats in November.
Let’s not turn back now. Let’s keep moving forward, building, growing, and working together. I ask for you vote. Thank you.

 

Here is a copy of the Live Stream Video taken during the event.

Clear Lake Area Republicans PAC Co-Hosted a HCRP Chairman Job Interview on Monday, February 5, 2018, with the SE Texas Young Republicans, San Jacinto Republican Women, and Republican Liberty Caucus Organizations.


 

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