Steve Munisteri

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Stephen Peter Munisteri, known as Steve Munisteri (born 1958), is a businessman and a former attorney from Houston, who was elected chairman of the Republican Party of Texas at the state convention held in Dallas on June 13, 2010. He unseated the incumbent Cathie Louise Mingee Adams, the former director of a crisis pregnancy center in Plano, Texas, and the wife of a Dallas chiropractor. Adams had held the position for only eight months.[1]

Munisteri is the first challenger in modern Texas Republican history to defeat a sitting incumbent for the position of state chairman. Early in his political career, Munisteri served as State Chairman of the Texas Chapter of Young Americans for Freedom. In 1980, he founded the Young Conservatives of Texas. [2]


Contents

Background

Munisteri was reared in Houston, where his father was an officer of Brown and Root, later president of Enserch Engineers and Construction, Comstock International, and the Texas division of Ford, Bacon & Davis. His mother was first a homemaker but later an editor of professors' textbooks at Rice University in Houston and still performs such work on a contract basis. Munisteri has three brothers and two sisters. He graduated from Memorial High School in the Hedwig Village section of Houston, where he was in the National Honor Society and the debate team. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Texas Law School, completing both degrees in five, instead of the customary seven, years. With his law degree in hand, Munisteri returned to Houston to open his solo law practice, which he continued in partnership with others, for twenty-seven years.[3] Munisteri founded the firm on November 1, 1982, the day before the defeat of Bill Clements as the first Republican governor of Texas since 1873. The firm is now known as Sprott, Rigby, Newson, Robbins & Lunceford, P.C.[4]

Munisteri is divorced from the former Deanna Armstrong, whom he met through the University of Texas during the unsuccessful 1976 Ronald W. Reagan presidential campaign. They rode together on a bus from Austin to Kansas City, Missouri, to attend the 1976 Republican National Convention[3] held at the Kemper Arena, which nominated U.S. President Gerald Ford, and then U.S. Senator Robert J. Dole of Kansas for vice president. Munisteri is a Presbyterian. The couple had no children.[3]

Munisteri is also a boxing promoter in Houston.[5] Munisteri Sports & Entertainment, Inc., teamed with Worldwide Entertainment and Sports Corp. of West Orange, New Jersey, to oversee seven heavyweight boxers under Munisteri's direction. The boxers were Obed Sullivan, Derrick Banks, Talmadge Griffis, David Bostice, Ed Wright, Robert Davis, and Ike Ibeabuchi. However, the joint arrangement failed, and Munisteri is retiring from the boxing business. He still manages one fighter and handles announcing and color commentary for boxing shows.[6]


Early political involvement

Munisteri was active in politics early in his teenage years, first working as a volunteer for the campaigns of Texas Republicans Henry C. Grover and John G. Tower in 1972, when the two top Republicans were at odds with each other.[7] He formed a conservative club at Memorial High School. In 1976, Munisteri was elected state vice chairman for Texas Young Americans for Freedom, was an active volunteer for Ronald Reagan, and attended the 1976 Republican National Convention. From 1977 to 1980, he served as state chairman of the YAF and was also elected to YAF's national board of directors. Under Munisteri's chairmanship, YAF began the practice of issuing legislative rankings for members of the Texas House of Representatives, a number of whom had more liberal voting records than their constituents had believed.[8]

In 1980, having experienced dissatisfaction with the top-down leadership of the national YAF organization, Munisteri at the February 1980 convention proposed a new Texas-based conservative organization to the Texas YAF board. The board voted unanimously to create a new organization named Young Conservatives of Texas. The organization was officially founded on Texas Independence Day, March 2, 1980 at the Driskill Hotel in Austin. Munisteri served as the first state YCT chairman.[9]


Texas GOP chairman

In September 2009, Texas GOP State Chairman Tina Benkiser announced her resignation at the quarterly State Republican Executive Committee meeting in Austin.[10] Under Texas law, each major party must at all times have a woman as either its chairman or vice-chairman. Since Vice Chairman Robin Armstrong of Galveston County did not relinquish his position to seek to succeed Benkiser as state chairman, only a woman could be elected to fill the position. On October 24, 2009, the SREC hence elected Texas GOP National Committeewoman Cathie Adams as Benkiser's successor by a vote of thirty-six to twenty-five.[11]

On January 22, 2010, Munisteri announced his candidacy for state chairman, having cited a desire to make the RPT a "more effective organization" by utilizing his "strong business administrative skills".[12] He was the second declared challenger in the race, as former SREC member Tom Mechler of Amarillo, had announced his candidacy the previous summer.[13]

During the campaign for state chairman, Munisteri cited the need to reduce recurring party debt which had reached over $700,000. He used that as a factor in unseating Adams. Cathie Adams, however, claimed that party finances were sound, but reports upholding her contention were not released to the Federal Election Commission or the Texas Ethics Commission. Munisteri brought a large number of youthful supporters to the convention and overwhelmed Adams' effort to win a full two-year term as chairman. Many of these young people were members of Young Conservatives of Texas, a the organization which Munisteri had founded in 1980.

On the second day of the convention, delegates voted by senatorial district for the position of state chairman. Munisteri won thirteen districts, Adams won twelve districts, and Mechler won six. Since no candidate received a majority of districts, a vote was held in the nominations committee of the convention, and Munisteri won the second ballot by a count of twenty-two to nine. After the nominations committee presented their results to the full convention, Adams then proceeded to force an unprecedented floor vote for the position, at which point Tom Mechler officially endorsed Munisteri. Then Munisteri addressed the full convention and declared that his differences with Adams are "insignificant to the duty we have to our country." He placed the reelection of Governor Rick Perry as his top priority and then the regaining of Republican majorities in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. He added, "there's no question we have to get rid of that man in the White House," a reference to U.S. President Barack H. Obama.[14] In the ensuing floor vote, Munisteri prevailed with a margin of 4,170 to 2,950 for Adams.[15]

Ed Hubbard, a Harris County delegate who supported Munisteri over Adams, said that the GOP must be a "functioning statewide political organization focused on winning elections ... to keep Texas in the Republican column, and keep its policies conservative."

Hubbard offered three reasons for his support of Munisteri:

  1. Munisteri, he said, has "honestly confronted the actual present condition of the party organization, and has provided a plan to address it and improve it."
  2. He has pledged to "use his private-sector experiences to address the challenges facing the party organization."
  3. He "understands the need for unity within the party by conducting this campaign in a positive manner [and] has remained focused on what needs to be done to improve the effectiveness of the party, even while he has been attacked personally." Hubbard did not say what personal attacks had been involved.[16]

Upon becoming chairman, Munisteri immediately focused his sights on the reelection of Perry, who won a third full four-year term in the general election on November 2, 2010. Perry also served the last two years of the unexpired term of former Governor and U.S. President George W. Bush. He defeated the 2010 challenge of the Democrat William Henry "Bill" White, a businessman, former state party chairman and a former mayor of Houston.[14]

Munisteri has issued a regular "Chairman's Update" to Texas Republicans with information regarding his activities as Chairman. In December 2010, Munisteri announced that the RPT had fully retired its crippling debt and would end 2010 with zero debt, all bills paid, a record net worth, and a record positive cash balance in its accounts. [17]

Few state chairmen have presided over a more successful party than Munisteri. The Texas GOP in 2012 continued to hold all statewide constitutional office, the eighteen statewide judgeships, and all three members of the Texas Railroad Commission. Under Munisteri, his party gained a net of three seats in the U.S. House and twenty-four seats in the Texas House.

Munisteri and Melinda Fredericks of Conroe, another intraparty rival of Cathie Adams, were reelected as chairman and vice-chairman at the state Republican convention held in June 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas.

References

  1. "Republican Party of Texas Elects Steve Munisteri Chairman", texasgop.org, June 12, 2010
  2. Steve Munisteri - Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas and Founder of Young Conservatives of Texas, January 3, 2011. yct.org. Retrieved on January 3, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Biography: Personal Information for Stephen P. Munisteri. betweenthesynapse.com. Retrieved on September 27, 2010.
  4. Our History. msrnr.net. Retrieved on September 27, 2010.
  5. Travis Walker and Raphael Butler, both of Whom Decked Vitali Klitschko in Sparring, Co-Headline Friday, April 6, on ShoBox, March 31, 2007. eastsideboxing.com. Retrieved on September 29, 2010.
  6. John Egan, Ten years before Texas GOP chairmanship, Steve Munisteri boxing deal fell through the ropes. austininnovation.wordpress.com. Retrieved on September 29, 2010.
  7. Tribpedia: Steve Munisteri. texastribune.org.
  8. Steve Munisteri, January 20, 2011. lonestarreport.org. Retrieved on January 20, 2011.
  9. Steve Munisteri - Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas and Founder of Young Conservatives of Texas, January 3, 2011. yct.org. Retrieved on January 3, 2011.
  10. Benkiser explains Texas GOP chairman resignation, joining Perry campaign, September 26, 2009. lonestarreport.org. Retrieved on September 26, 2009.
  11. Cathie Adams elected Texas Republican Party Chairwoman, October 24, 2009. kcbd.com. Retrieved on September 26, 2009.
  12. Houston’s Stephen Munisteri Announces for Republican Party Chairman, January 22, 2010. texasinsider.org. Retrieved on January 22, 2010.
  13. Tom Mechler to Run for Republican Party Chair, June 10, 2009. texasinsider.org. Retrieved on June 10, 2009.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Houston lawyer Steve Munisteri named to chair Texas Republican Party, June 13, 2010. dallasnews.com. Retrieved on September 29, 2010.
  15. Delegates vote Munisteri as next Texas GOP chairman, June 12, 2010. lonestarreport.org. Retrieved on June 12, 2010.
  16. Ed Hubbard: Why I am supporting Steve Munisteri for Chairman of the RPT, June 6, 2010. bigjolly.com. Retrieved on September 27, 2010.
  17. RPT: Debt Free. franklincountytexasgop.blogspot.com. Retrieved on December 8, 2010.
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