DALLAS, May 16, 2016 — Despite the headlines, the 2016 Texas Republican convention was actually conventional. Yes, they voted on whether to secede; no, the vote did not succeed. As usual, a tiny band of renegades gave the liberal media a giant club to use to bash Republicans over their heads.
Normalcy was the order of the three-day affair. The Omni Hotel and Dallas Convention Center welcomed Republicans to debate serious ideas and the people to carry them out. Unlike Nevada Democrats, Texas Republicans carried out their convention without physical violence.
The over-exaggerated non-story was that a few of the delegates demanded a vote to have Texas secede from the Union. The secession vote was overwhelmingly defeated. As much as it may trouble the leftist media, most Texans who cling to their bibles and guns are normal human beings. They want to save America, not start another Civil War. Normal people in Normal America went about their normal business.
The main business involved the votes for the leadership team. Continuity and stability carried the day. Robin Armstrong and Toni Anne Dashiell were separately re-elected as the state’s national committeeman and committeewoman. The struggle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party in as much a Texas story as it is a national one. The battle for the Texas GOP chairmanship came full circle.
Former chairwoman Cathie Adams was ousted several years ago by Steve Munisteri. Adams represents the traditional wing of the GOP that is socially conservative. Munisteri sought to make the GOP more inclusive, which Adams’ supporters believe means selling out GOP principles. When Munisteri stepped down, the moderate wing continued under chairman Tom Mechler and vice chairwoman Amy Clark. At this convention, Mechler faced a challenge from Harris County GOP Jared Woodfill. Adams sought a comeback by taking on Clark.
Liberals caricature Texas as a right-wing haven, but most Texas Republicans prefer the inclusive approach to building the GOP. Mechler and Clark won re-election. However, the least socially conservative delegates were angry at several controversial planks added to the Texas GOP platform. The Texas GOP is attempting to follow North Carolina’s lead on the transgender bathroom controversy.
Unlike the internal Texas political battles, the presidential race provided far less drama. With Texas Sen. Ted Cruz no longer in the race, his role at the convention was that of favorite son coming home. His wife Heidi introduced him to the crowd, which gave him a lengthy hero’s welcome. The senator’s father, Pastor Rafael Cruz, was everywhere at this convention. A beloved figure in his own right, Pastor Cruz spent the entire weekend thanking the thousands of people who offered prayers and kind words for his son.
GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump did not attend, but he had plenty of supporters wearing “Make America Great Again” baseball caps and t-shirts. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions appeared to make the case for GOP unity and Trump for president. Texas’s other senator, John Cornyn, was also there to tend to his constituents.
Also beloved is Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, known for having a solid constituent services team and a self-deprecating sense of humor. He hosted a hospitality suite where he was expected to greet people for up to 90 minutes. He stayed more than three hours, and every single person in line was given more than just a handshake. Gohmert is a rock solid conservative who just likes people. Those not from Texas receive his homespun charm and an invitation to move to his congressional district.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is respected and liked by almost everyone involved in the Texas GOP. He spent time signing copies of his book. Abbott is paralyzed from the waist down due to a spinal injury. His wheelchair does not stop him from conducting the tough job of governing the Lone Star State. He remains an inspiration to his citizens and is a rare unifying figure in a party rife with the ideological divisions that affect both major parties nationwide.
What Texas Republicans always get right is showing up. Ten thousand delegates attended the Texas Republican Convention, even though the presidential race was settled. By comparison, the California GOP convention in the heat of the fight for the White House drew barely 1,000 delegates.
Whether one is moderate or conservative, being a Republican in Texas is still a source of pride. The convention is a measuring stick of activity and enthusiasm, and the Republican Party of Texas is in great shape.