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Time at the TX State Capitol with Lt Gov David Dewhurst

Hey everyone!

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, but school has kept me busy! With us at the halfway point in the TX Legislature now though, TX politics is heating up, and you know I’m in the middle of it!

Yesterday (Thursday, March 21, 2013), I coordinated a meeting with Lt Gov David Dewhurst with certain members of the Texas College Republicans from around the state. There were about 25 of us in attendance, and 7 of us were from LCU!

The Lt Gov had a catered breakfast brought into his official Reception Room, and spoke to all of us for quite some time. He told us stories about his dad, who actively participated in D-Day; he was gracious on fielding many questions on education, both K-12 and Higher Ed; he feels confident that Campus Carry will pass the Senate.

Gov Dewhurst was particularly kind to me during the meeting. At one point he singled me out and thanked me, in front of everyone, for standing by him and “having his back.” I’m grateful that Texas is blessed with such a man of character – it is not hyperbole for me to say I would follow this man anywhere, because I truly believe in him. I have taken verbal and professional “flak” for him, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

After the reception, Gov Dewhurst took our whole group out on the floor of the Senate Chamber, took several pictures, and then allowed me to gavel in the TX Senate! It gave me chill bumps to say the words, “The Senate will now come to order and the Secretary will read the roll,” in such a beautiful and sacred chamber. I’m grateful for the Lt Gov in his kindness in offering me such an opportunity. It was a huge highlight of my life!

Immediately following, I headed to the funeral of our beautiful, wonderful RNC National Committeewoman, Borah Van Dormolen. For those of you who don’t know, Borah died from a massive heart attack on 3/11/13, and our state and Party mourned our loss together on Thursday. Many stories were shared, much laughter and tears…Lt Gov Dewhurst, one of Borah’s dearest friends, spoke and reminded us that Borah herself would not want us to give up the fight, so we better keep on if we don’t want her mad at us when we see her next! If anyone knows Borah, you know we don’t want that!

After the funeral and memorial, I spent some time visiting with the staff(s) of our two Lubbock representatives, Rep. Charles Perry and Rep. John Frullo, then headed for the airport for my flight home. But no…..my story does not end there!

When I got to the airport, I saw my flight to Lubbock had been delayed. But not just mine…for who shared my flight? None other than the Lubbock Legislative Trio, Senator Bob Duncan, Rep Charles Perry, and Rep John Frullo. We were soon joined by Fmr Speaker of the House Pete Laney and his lovely wife (they have been married 50 years – congratulations!), as well as Fmr Lubbock County Judge Don McBeath. We even saw TX Congressman from Round Rock, John Carter!

Since our plane ending up being delayed several hours, I was able to spend the time visiting with Reps. Frullo/Perry, Sen Duncan, and Speaker Laney. What a treat! We discussed TTU Law School (Sen Duncan was very encouraging), LCU (they’re all fans!), bills they’re each carrying, and *the budget* – which was really fun.

I was able to tell them my personal story about how the TEG (Texas Equalization Grant) has affected me, and how it really needs to be funded in this budget cycle. Gov Dewhurst pledged to me before I left that he would fight to get the TEG back in the budget, and Rep Perry informed me that when the House Bill on the budget was voted out of Committee that evening (He’s on Appropriations), they had restored TEG at 85% funding. I’m hopeful that will go to fully-funded by the time it passes the House, but that’s still very encouraging! I learned that Speaker Laney was the original author of the TEG *and* he even attended LCC(LCU) for a time, so there’s a bit trivia for you!

So…….rarely has a VERY delayed flight been so beneficial, but I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to visit with these gentlemen, learn from them, and have them listen to me. We are truly blessed with great public servants, ladies and gentlemen. Truly blessed.

For God, Country, and TEXAS,
Always,
KVP

Last Convention Update from Tampa for KVPTexas #cspanRNC #GOP2012

Well folks, I boarded my plane from Tampa to Pensacola this morning, and am now headed to Virginia, via Washington, DC.

It has truly been my greatest honor to represent you here in Tampa. I am beyond floored by the encouragement in the form of phone calls, texts, emails, comments here, personal emails, etc that I have received from all of you.

When I campaigned for this slot, and you honored me by voting for me, I promised to be your voice. I promised to report to you the proceedings of this convention…not just the parties and the speeches, but the nominating process, committee reports, actions of the chair and the delegations. I hope you feel I have kept that promise. I have been an open book, and I’ve heard from so many of you who appreciated my updates and reports. You honored me by telling media to call me and by passing on my blog posts to your friends and family.

You know, It’s amazing the sphere of influence West Texas has. We are greatly respected across the nation, and that has never been more clear to me than spending this week with 5000 of my closest Republican friends, who consistently reiterated that support and respect through word and deed.

I was blessed to have received numerous requests to be interviewed by media from across the country. Just last night, a Thailand paper picked up a story about, what else, my cowboy hat! I am humbled by the opportunities, but glad that I had them, for it allowed me to showcase Texas, and West Texas in particular. That was always my goal, and most media took that cue. Of course, my hat seemed to be much more popular than even I was…the more signatures I acquired, the more requests I had – most were uninterested in talking to me…they just wanted a picture of my hat. 😉

I’ll try this weekend to compile a list of the interviews and articles I was a part of. I heard from several of you that you enjoyed the C-SPAN interviews – I did too! They were my favorites, and I got to know Executive Producer Peter Slen quite well. He even asked me to shoot a commercial for C-SPAN, which I did yesterday. I’m hoping to get a link to that, but will also hopefully see it on the channel!

One more thing – I would like to say a giant THANK YOU to RPT Chairman Steve Munisteri, Vice-Chair Melinda Fredricks, and especially delegation coordinator Chris Elam. They all did an excellent job of ensuring that every delegate, alternate, and guest was able to take advantage of every opportunity, and were tireless in the encouragement and work ethic. Steve, Melinda, Chris, and your staff members – thank you so much! It was a pleasure to work with you, and I can’t wait to march towards victory in November with y’all when we get back home!

As always, I remain blessed to be your representative. Thank you for your confidence, and your constant encouragement.

Always,
KVPTexas

Tuesday and Wednesday Morning Updates #cspanRNC #GOP2012

Hello y’all!

We are on the buses on our way to the session tonight, so thought I’d update you on some of what happened yesterday during sessions 1 and 2. I apologize for not getting a fully detailed post out – our bus did not deliver us to the hotel until 3:45 am, I stayed up until 4:40 or so finishing up some work, and then I was up at 6:30 am for a breakfast with Congressman Neugebauer. I fully expected to spend my afternoon writing Tuesday’s full update, but just had to take an hour’s cat nap instead, so I would be half-way functional while at Convention tonight. I’ll do my best to give you the highlights, and thank you for understanding.

Lt Gov Dewhurst spoke to us at the delegation meeting yesterday, and reiterated his full support for Ted Cruz and for seeing him elected. In a show of utmost integrity, in my opinion, Gov Dewhurst showed up on the Convention floor last night during Ted’s speech and cheered right along with the rest of the Texas delegation. Thank you, Gov Dewhurst – for your character in putting Texas first.

We also were pleased to have Tagg Romney speak to us yesterday morning. Much like his mother, Tagg does a great job representing his father, and shared many personal stories – a behind the scenes look at the SLC Olympics, how and why Romney started Bain Capital, and things we should do to convince voters back home to vote Romney/Ryan. Ann Romney did very much the same slam-dunk – performing in a wonderful fashion at last night’s session. She painted Gov Romney as Conservative, compassionate, and humble, and I think she really got it across. When Gov Christie complimented Gov Romney later that night (he was sitting in the audience after Mrs Romney’s speech) – Gov Romney was the only person in the audience who didn’t stand. His humilty is a welcome change to the arrogance of the current administration.

Our delegation meetings have hosted a ton of speakers – we’ve had Frank Lutz, Gen Abbott, Bill Flores, Aaron Pena, Susan Combs, and, today, Sen Rick Santorum. I’d love to talk about all of them individually, but because of time – I’ll focus on Sen Santorum’s speech this morning. There are almost not words to describe what a powerful speaker he is to a smaller crowd. I listened to his speech on the floor last night, and though it was great, it paled in comparison to his speech this morning. With quiet sincerity, he told us in no uncertain terms how much he appreciated the support, and how it was essential that we now unite as a Party behind Gov Romney and Rep Ryan. He had me in tears as he described his love for the Constitution and Declaration, having all of us close our eyes and think “American Dream” – denouncing the Democrats’ use of the “race card,” saying indignantly, “If I’m not mistaken, we fought a Revolution to get rid of ‘classes’!” I was proud to have a chance to chat with him for a few minutes, about Godly leadership and how I was home educated, and to thank him for all he’s done to eloquently express Conservative values in a real way.

I was fortunate to have an at-large delegate hand me her credentials last night, so I spent the entire night session on the floor as a delegate. My delegate chose not to give up his credentials last night, so thanks Tammi Sturm! You were so generous to do that! We’ve struck a deal and the CD-19 alternates will be sat as delegates for at least the first hour tonight.

Similarly to the Texas Delegation, the speakers yesterday at Convention are to numerous to specify, but the ones besides those I’ve mentioned that stood out to me were: the performance of the Oak Ridge Boys (their acapella rendition of “Amazing Grace” set a tone for the night), Artur West, fmr Dem Rep from AL (who spoke vehemently to those Democrats who are dis-satisfied with Obama – I felt like he was very persuasive), our very own Ted Cruz (of course), who gave a masterful performance – having the podium drop down and not using the teleprompter. Those of us who have heard him in Texas knows he gives a wonderful speech, but now the nation knows what a gem is heading to the U.S. Senate! Lastly, there was Gov Chris Christie – wow – he was the absolute BEST choice for keynote speaker. He seemed to speak in “quotable phrases” last night, but the one I’ve heard repeated again and again was his line: “A real leader doesn’t follow polls – a real leader CHANGES polls!” Well, well done, Gov Christie.

Lastly, as we have just arrived, I’m sorry to say the committee reports all passed, despite strenuous opposition. Chairman Priebus ignored some points of order – which the entire Texas delegation was yelling for, until they cut the mic. Maine’s replaced delegation was sat, and Rule 12 passed. We did a roll call of the states, and Gov Romney received the overwhelming majority – 2061 delegate votes in all. Rep Paul Ryan was nominated by acclamation. I know everyone is disappointed by the actions of the Chair yesterday, as was I. I feel that a simple call for a roll call vote or a standing vote would have eliminated much of the distrust in leadership, as it would have stopped the rumors that the “no” votes were actually louder than the “yea” votes to pass reports. I will say this, however, where I was sitting in the alternates section, there was a lot of “voting” during those times from alternates and guests throughout the Forum (Convention Center), so that, in theory, could be why it sounded like the “no’s” had it. It’s important that we follow the rules at all times, so that we are without reproof when the situation is decided.

I spoke too early – we are now circling downtown Tampa, as we did yesterday. The accommodations in transportation have been lacking. Our bus drivers don’t have the right directions, or they don’t send enough buses to pick us up…it’s been a bit nightmarish.

So, I’ll wrap up with this: I have been continuing my interviews with Peter Slen of C-SPAN. They are available on this website: http://www.cspan.org/campaign2012. Scroll down the “hangout’ section of that page and all of the interviews are there. I’m also told Nick with KAMC will interview me at the Convention tonight, and that plus my interview with him last week will air together tonight. I’ll let y’all know for sure that it does, and if you see it – let me know how it looks!

I think we *might* be heading in the right direction now, so I’ll sign off.

Until next time I remain,
Yours,
KVPTexas

Tuesday Night Update

Hey y’all-

We have only just now left the Convention Center, we still have to be delivered to our hotel buses, board, and ride the 1.5 back to the hotel. That will make it about 2am or later before we even get to the hotel. Congressman Neugebauer is having us to a breakfast first thing in the morning, so I will post only a short post tonight, and leave the long detailed post for in the morning, after our TX delegation meeting.

Suffice to say, it has been a long but WONDERFUL day. I can’t wait to update y’all on it! I hope you’ve been following me on Twitter or Facebook, because I post *a lot* of pictures throughout the day!

I hope all of you were watching throughout the night, and I want to hear your thoughts as well, so comment and tell me what your favorite part(s) was, okay?

I remain yours,
KVPTexas

Tuesday Morning – IMPORTANT RNC Rules Update #GOP2012

We are in the middle of our Texas Delegation meeting, but wanted to update y’all – there will NOT be a Minority Report on the Rules Committee Report today on the floor. With the deletion of Rule 16a2, members have “unsigned” the Minority Report, so we do not have the necessary 29 members for a MR to be presented on the floor.

Additionally, people have submitted, in writing, in advance, a call for the question on the Committee Report, so the only vote will be an up/down vote. It is my estimation that this report WILL pass on the floor, despite objections by many delegations, including Texas. With this decision, we will have to stay on top of our RNC, in order to ensure that they do not change the rules in a way that would infringe on our liberties as citizens and members of this Grand Ole Party.

I’ll keep updating from the Convention floor, but I am about to go interview with CSPAN again – so remember to go to: http://www.cspan.org/campaign2012 – you can watch our “hangouts” on that page, and watch my tweets on the “featured delegates” tab. Scroll down slightly and you’ll see both section.

For Texas,
KVPTexas

Monday Night Convention Update – with RNC Rules Update

Hey y’all – 

I have been receiving a good many emails throughout last night and all day today, concerned with the RNC Rules and what is happening with those. I believe I have answered all of the emails and returned the voicemails…the resort internet and phone services were down for a period of time today though, so if I missed you – call/email me back and I’ll get with you – I promise! I was up until 4:30 am this morning doing delegate business, and back up at 7 in order to start the day again, so I’m not ignoring you – I promise!

Today was not a scheduled Convention day, but A LOT happened. I will do my best to update all of you as to the goings on.

Our day started with our daily delegation briefing, where we heard from Senator John Cornyn and soon-to-be Senator Ted Cruz. Both were fantastic (as always) but, in my opinion, Senator Cornyn really hit a homerun. He reminded us of a certain Texan named Travis who, when surrounded and no where left to turn wrote this: “The enemy has demanded a surrender, and we have responded with a cannon shot!” He said he believes that we are answering the demand for surrender from the Obama administration and liberal Democrats with a cannon shot of our own – Romney/Ryan 2012!

Ted Crus spoke and energized the entire delegation. I mentioned this last night, but he will speak primetime tomorrow (Tuesday) night at approximately 8:10 TEXAS time. That’s just after 9 pm our time. I’m sure ALL of you will be watching the entire Convention, and will not miss any of it. Ted ended his energetic speech with words we all hope and pray as well – if we work hard, and don’t lose faith – “we’re going to make November 2012 look a lot like November 2010.” 

Rep. Louis Gohmert spoke briefly as well – just pumping up the crowd and touching on individual liberties and their importance – which leads me into the RNC Credentials and Rules reports.

Our RNC Credentials Committee members, Eric Opiela and Mandy Tschoepe served on the permanent RNC Credentials Committee, which oversaw three major protests, regarding the delegations of Maine, Oklahoma, and Oregon. Eric has been blogging about the entire process, which I will just briefly state here, so if you’re interested in the entire credentialing process, visit Eric’s blog here. Mandy did mention that there were more protests this year than the RNC has dealt with since the 1952 election. Some notable names from that year? Dewey…for one.

The three protests were quite different – Oklahoma was fairly straight-forward: their state party rules state a roll call vote was required, but they conducted a voice and then a standing vote. The results were overwhelming and no party was disputing the outcome, so the Committee voted to seat that delegation. 

Oregon was strange to everyone. Apparently, Oregon’s 5 Congressional Districts conduct their state convention in 5 locations simultaneously. There were, shockingly, a few problems this year. Their party rules state that the convention is to adjourn at 5 pm, and if, at that time, not all of the alt/del slots are filled, those positions will be filled by appointment of their State Executive Board. The Convention was not finished at 5pm, but, in following Party rules, 4 of the 5 CDs adjourned. One CD, however, went ahead and finished voting in their at-large alternates. They were protesting the alternates that had been appointed by the Executive Board, but the RNC Credentials Committee found that Party rules were followed and seated the delegation that included the appointed alternates. 

Lastly, Mains, which you may have been hearing about in the news. According to Mandy, this Convention was chaotic, with votes being taken before proper credentialing having taken place, the chair not recognizing points of order to remedy this “oversight,” among many other disturbing problems. Mandy reiterated how blessed Texas is to have such a talented and capable leader like steve Munisteri, because that is something Maine obviously did not have. Ultimately, because of all of the chaos, the RNC Committee on Contests chose the remaining delegates, and the RNC Credentials Committee voted to approve that, though Eric and Mandy voted against it, because they felt the Contests Committee should not have made that decision.

Now……for the rules. Last night I reported on Rule 12 and Rule 16a2. Click here for that blog post. I have a few updates that have happened throughout the day, so bear with me and I’ll try to give the details to you chronologically. Melinda Fredricks and Butch Davis, our Committee members to the RNC Rules Committee, came before our delegation this morning and read us a letter they wrote to the rest of the Rules Committee which stated our focus and unity as a state not to accept the rules presented – especially the changes to Rule 16. I’m very proud of Melinda and Butch for their leadership – they have been utterly trashed in the media over the past couple of days, and their stance on the minority reports on these two issues has been called divisive and mutiny, but they and the other 27 committee members on the Minority Report have stood firm.

RPT Chairman Steve Munisteri officially asked the Texas delegation if we were okay with him signing on to a letter with 5 other states, demanding a floor vote on these rule changes. That would mean, basically, that they would have to present these amendments to the body as a whole, and read the minority report, which would have given it a much less chance of passing.

As Melinda and Butch said in their letter, and members of our delegation have said to the media and others who are accusing us of not being in unity – it’s not that we want a floor fight about this…but this is about liberty and an “unacceptable infringement on our right!” (Munisteri). That is always worth fighting for.

AT&T hosted a party this evening for the members of the Texas and Colorado delegations, and while we were on our way home from that, we were informed that a compromise has been reached. The amendment to Rule 16a2 has been voluntarily removed, with the blessing of the RNC and the Romney campaign. Now, instead, delegates will be completely chosen by their individual states, under their state party rules. They will be bound on the first vote, and will lose their delegate privileges if they break their bound vote and choose someone else. This is a VICTORY!!! It is my understanding that the Minority Report on Rule 16 has been withdrawn, since the objection no longer applies.

HOWEVER – Rule 12 hasn’t been touched. Under the Rules up for consideration by the body tomorrow- the RNC can still change the rules between conventions, so we will have to watch that carefully. As I posted yesterday, I understand the need for a bit of leeway, but I am wary to give the RNC an inch…they can tend to grab a mile while they’re at it. I will let you know how the voting goes from the Convention tomorrow. We gavel in at 2 pm.

I conducted two TV interviews today – one with KCBD in Lubbock, which will be shown in the morning sometime, and one with C-SPAN (finally!), which will be posted to their website at some point and used as clips during their broadcasts all week. Peter Slen, one of C-SPAN’s producers, was great in the interview, and invited me to come visit him on Media Row when I get to the Convention Hall tomorrow. I’ll try to post a picture or two if I get a chance to do so. I still have 6 more interviews to do with him, so watch for those. I’m a featured”delegate” on their Convention site, so look for my tweets to show up there as well.

The Scavenger Hunt got off to a great start today, so I hope you are following along on Twitter, as our participants are having a blast with it.

My dad and I slipped out of the resort after all of the meetings and drove to a local Steak ‘n Shake for a Steak Burger and fries. To my intense delight, they had Dr Pepper! I might be able to live now! 🙂 While there, we had several people stop us and ask us what we were doing there, what was the Convention like, how did we like Tampa, etc. The most interesting and rewarding conversation, however, was an almost 30 minute conversation with Kevin Williams, a local small business owner here in Tampa, who owns a distributing business for snack foods. We talked about everything Conservative under the sun, which was great. Kevin was even so kind as to go out and make us up a “goody box” of snacks that he distributes to enjoy as a “thanks” for all the work we’re doing. We sampled a bit and then shared the rest with Chris Elam and the rest of the hard-working RPT staff. Kevin – if you’re reading this – thanks for the conversation and especially the gift box…and you were right…the sugared nuts are addicting…we’ll be calling you! 🙂 Tampa-area folks who might be reading this – please give this small business owner your business. His company is Williams Distributing here in Tampa, and I’ll share his info with you if you want to message me privately.

Lastly, the Texas delegation had a real treat. Brad Bailey, who has already been incredibly generous to the Texas delegation thus far, worked to get us a special surprise. He brought in Doug Sain, who produced the new blockbuster Obama’s America: 2016. We got a chance to hear from Doug, hear his vision, and then we were able to watch the entire movie as a delegation! It was such a rare privilege, and we appreciate Doug, Brad, and the ladies of TFRW for making it possible. Folks – if you haven’t gotten a chance to watch 2016 – DO IT! It’s the perfect way to grab those folks who don’t think we can beat President Obama and give them the needed tools to do just that. I had the opportunity to speak with Doug at length after the film, and he is so passionate about this election and our country – he encouraged me in all that I’m doing as a student leader and beyond, and I’m proud to have gotten a chance to meet and visit with him.

The only other thingI have for y’all is the topic of pictures. For some reason, my iPad isn’t thrilled with the idea of posting or taking good pictures right now, but I have been able to take quite a few, so watch myTwitter account for a few pictures, and I’ll figure out what to do with the rest when I get home to a stable internet provider.

Thank you for your patience and your attention. I know this has been a long post, but I think you deserve to know what’s going on…that’s what you sent me here for, and that’s what I intend to do.

I remain ever yours,
KVPTexas
Kristen Vander-Plas

Part of Tuesday Night Schedule

One more note tonight, folks (yes, I’m still up…doing delegate and TFRW work) – I have just learned two important notes:

Sen-to-be Ted Cruz will speak during the 9 o’clock hour on Tuesday night. This will be 8 pm hor for you folks in Texas.

Also, very importantly, the Oak Ridge Boys will sing during prime time Tuesday night. I am a Big ORB fan, so this excites me a lot. 🙂

Hope y’all are sleeping and don’t see this until later this morning!
Always,
KVPTexas