DALLAS, June 9, 2014 — Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes the 2014 Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Convention.
The Fort Worth Convention Center saw around 10,000 people come from many of the Lone Star State’s 254 counties for this Grand Old Party gathering from June 5 to 7. Dallas is a finalist for the 2016 Republican National Convention, but this shindig was pure state business. Also, as any native from the two rival cities will boast, Fort Worth is not Dallas.
Aggies and Longhorns have their football disagreements, but this convention was about politics and policy, delivered with heaping doses of political and literal barbecued red meat.
Governor Rick Perry is stepping down in November after three terms as governor. He is expected to mount another presidential bid. His convention speech was very well received by a crowd who began cheering as soon as the introductory video showed the one-time agricultural commissioner rise through the ranks.
Attorney General Greg Abbott is seeking to become governor, and he is as loved by Texas Republicans as his Democrat opponent Wendy Davis is loathed. Women at this convention proudly wore t-shirts claiming that Davis did not speak for them.
The real power in Texas resides with the Lieutenant Governor, Perry’s job under George W. Bush. Incumbent Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst became vulnerable to a primary challenge after he lost the United States Senate Republican Primary to Ted Cruz in 2012. This time it was broadcaster Dan Patrick who took him on successfully. Patrick is very conservative, and his victory over Dewhurst is a setback for moderate Republicans.
Ken Paxton is the GOP nominee for Attorney General. Like Abbott, he is well-regarded and non-controversial.
Another Texas-sized fight will be over the direction of the state legislature. Current Speaker of the House Joe Strauss has been criticized by the conservative wing for being too liberal. While Strauss is a Jewish leader of a very Christian state, his religion has not been an issue. This is a simple battle between the establishment and the insurgency.
Seeking to replace Strauss is a fiery black conservative named Scott Turner. A former NFL player, Turner puts crowds in a frenzy when he thunders that “The chains of complacency and the shackles of status quo have got to be destroyed.”
United States Senator Ted Cruz remains a rock star. He remains the most popular politician in Texas with his principled stands and searing declarations that, “Today, liberty is under assault like never before. And again today, Texans will stand up and lead the fight for freedom.”
His father, Pastor Rafael Cruz, is every bit if not more beloved. Pastor Cruz spent time in a (Fidel of Cuba, not Julian of San Antonio) Castro prison and is determined not to see America slide down that same path.
While the candidates lit up the first two days, the final day of the convention was dedicated to platform fights. Some issues were non-controversial, with delegates demanding a stronger pro-Israel message. Illegal immigration proved much more divisive.
Texas tends to be an oasis of sanity far removed from the idiocy plaguing other states. A Libertarian movement to legalize marijuana was shot down. While one nurse piously claimed that “this is not about getting high,” the poorly written law had enough loopholes to turn Texas into pot-crazy Colorado. This crowd was not interested in turning their state into a haven for stoners.
In fact, this crowd was also not subjected to the Ron Paul movement that has taken other GOP conventions by storm. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul was politely received, but this convention was one place where he was not going to win the presidential straw poll.
Texas is Ted Cruz country, and Cruz won easily with 43 percent of the vote. Paul finished a distant third with 12 percent.
The Texas Federation of Republican Women were everywhere, with President Jody Rushton heading up a Friday luncheon celebrating women in politics. The Friday evening dinner gala featured national female luminaries including New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte and Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.
The hospitality suites were the place for hearty socializing. RPT Chairman put together one suite for the Young Republicans, while Senator John Cornyn delighted supporters with the return of his “Big Bad John” character from his most popular campaign commercials.
Political vendors were everywhere, although the most popular booth appeared to be the woman selling women’s shoes. Many of the ladies traded in their uncomfortable heels for a stylish array of multi-colored flats.
Every convention has its disputes, but this convention featured a ton of respectful discussion. Lunacy was kept to a bare minimum. The only people who could truly find fault with this convention would be liberal reporters posing as unbiased journalists.
One eager beaver recently left the Seattle Times for the Houston Chronicle. He stalked potential interviewees, calling them late at night and following them from hotel to hotel to get his quotes to be taken out of context later.
He even questioned why somebody wore a particular sloganned shirt.
It was explained to the reporter that the woman’s name on the shirt represented the beloved Borah Van Dormolen, the former Texas National Committeewoman who died unexpectedly last year. The reporter had no idea who she was, choosing to focus on the bright red color of the shirt rather than the incredible woman being paid tribute.
Even the most amateur of reporters could not credibly dispute the success of this convention. Texas has had Republicans control every statewide office since 1998. The GOP here is determined not to become California or New York. This is a Republican state that functions properly because of conservative principles.
The reason the state works is because of the thousands of delegates traveling from places as far away as El Paso and Galveston all the way to Fort Worth.
Successful governance requires hard work and plenty of planning. That is why the delegates came from far and wide to make sure that a successful convention was the first step in keeping Texas red and continuing the successful Texas model of conservative governance.