Texas GOP Delegates: Arizona on Their Mind

Eight thousand Republican delegates attended the Texas State Republican Convention in Dallas June 11th and 12th.. They came to shake things up and they did. Before they adjourned Saturday night, the delegates voted to add to their platform a call for an Arizona style law to stem illegal immigration. Like Arizona’s law, the proposal would require local police to verify U.S. residency when making arrests.

The delegates ignored Governor Perry’s previous statements regarding the Arizona law. Perry has said that the law is not right for Texas and puts a heavy burden on law enforcement officials. Texas Hispanics make up about a third of the total population of the state. The Governor has a standing request with the Federal government for 1000 National Guard troops to assist with Texas border control. While it remains to be seen if Perry’s Democratic rival can make an election issue of the call for an Arizona style law, Republican activists will likely force the issue when the Texas legislature meets again in January, 2011.

Governor Perry kicked off the convention on Friday. He continued his recent assaults on the overreach of Washington politicians. Perry warned that his Democrat opponent, Bill White, would be an enabler of President Obama’s policies.

The Tea Party folks were attending their first Texas Republican convention. They brought a new passion and an emphasis on fiscal responsibility.

From Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express News:

The San Antonio Tea Party’s booth is inconspicuously tucked in the back of the Dallas Convention Center’s exhibit hall.

To find it, you must wind your way through a maze of commerce and ideology – power scooter rentals, John Birch Society videos, T-shirts backing hard-rock guitarist Ted Nugent for president in 2012, magnetic therapeutic jewelry and campaign buttons proclaiming “Hot Chicks Vote Republican.”

Nonetheless, the booth was a favorite gathering place for Republican delegates Friday, the first day of the GOP’s 2010 state convention.

The tea party movement has been a force in national politics over the last year and a half, but Friday marked the beginning of the first Texas Republican convention to feel the impact of the disaffected conservative movement.

The tea party’s infusion of energy is the major reason GOP leaders confidently predict the party will gain several seats at the federal and state levels this November

While the Tea Party activists were prominent, delegates chose to toss out firebrand leader and conservative activist Cathie Adams. They elected Houston businessman Steve Munisteri as their new State GOP Chairman. The well known Munisteri focused his campaign on the party’s $500,000 debt.

Haley Barbour was the Saturday keynote speaker:

The main guest speaker, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, told delegates that the stakes in the 2010 elections were “higher than any midterm election in my lifetime.” Barbour urged activists to focus their ire not on each other but on the Democrats who had engineered the “biggest lurch to the left in American history.”

Barbour warned the delegates not to engage in divisive internal battles or demand a “purity” test of Republican leaders who may not agree with them on every single issue.

“We cannot forget unity because some people will let purity be the enemy of unity,” Barbour said. “It’s a big party and we need everybody who is on our side.”

While Barbour focused on a message of unity, there was some bitter debate over a variety of issues. Delegates expressed frustration over President Obama’s six month ban on deep water drilling which will have a significant impact on the Texas energy industry.

Delegates agreed on adding another controversial plank to the platform that advocates an “open carry” law. This would allow residents to openly carry firearms in public without a concealed weapons permit. Wow.

Texas Republicans leave their state convention with good political prospects for November. They will likely retain all statewide offices and extend their small majority in the Texas legislature. Governor Perry has opened a lead over Democrat Bill White.

Texas is red. Very Red. There is a popular t-shirt here in Texas that says “Most Likely to Secede”. OK, that’s a stretch. Let’s just say “Most Likely to Stand with Arizona.”