Patriots from all over Texas gathered at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas for the 2016 State GOP Convention the weekend of May 12-14 to revise the party platform, select new party leadership and in preparation for the national general election in November.
This year’s Texas GOP Convention had more significance than many, if not most of the immediately prior state conventions driven largely by the importance of the race for State Chairman – a race which would shape the identity and direction of the party and its members going forward.
The contest between Tom Mechler and Jared Woodfill had gotten ugly, with Woodfill sending out disgraceful, incendiary mailers, accusing Mechler of being in favor of a “homosexual agenda,” and of “stolen valor” in the fight against Houston’s then-Mayor Annise Parker’s HERO ordinance.
With this contest framing much of the dynamic energy for the convention, delegates met in their Senate District caucuses held on Friday morning to hold elections. Mechler and Vice Chair Amy Clark won overwhelmingly in more than two-thirds of the caucuses, and challenger Woodfill and running mate Cathie Adams conceded before noon, leaving their booth at the exhibitor hall abandoned.
Delegates revised the convention rules and the party platform after extensive debate, approving the platform plank-by-plank (results are here), shading circles on Scantron forms with No.2 pencils, in a return to methods used in college and high school.
The most anticipated moments of the convention arrived early on Saturday morning, as delegates campaigned for spots on the State Delegation to the Republican National Convention, which will be held in Cleveland in July, and the early afternoon, during the keynote address by Senator Ted Cruz, former presidential candidate.
Cruz’s speech was his first major speech since he ended his quest for the presidency, and was met with a roar of approval and admiration from the delegates, who gave him a standing ovation that lasted nearly five minutes before he could begin speaking. Cruz said the country needs a strong, conservative president. While he did not say who that president should be – thankfully, he did not endorse or even mention the party’s apparent nominee, Donald Trump.
All in all, a successful and enjoyable convention; one with many friends, significant accomplishments and a renewed sense of party unity. On to November.