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Plea for Party Unity as Texas Republican Convention Opens

Ben Philpott/KUT
Gov. Rick Perry kicked off the Texas Republican convention this morning in Fort Worth.

Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, kicked off the state GOP convention in Fort Worth today.

In a speech to the party faithful, Gov. Perry addressed the state's shifting demographics that Democrats hope will help them win big in election cycles to come – the "fight to keep Texas red" in the words of convention materials. "The national Democrats think Texas is the new battleground," Perry told the crowd. "Well let's be really clear, Texas will be their political burial ground."

Though he isn't seeking re-election in November, Perry has left the door wide open to a second presidential run in 2016. He told thousands of delegates gathered in Fort Worth that grassroots conservatives have already "changed Texas for the better" and urged them to do the same for America.

Preserving party unity – after a bruising Republican primary that pitted the establishment against the grassroots – was another theme of the convention's opening day. Party chairman Steve Munisteri opened the convention also reminding Republicans of the push by Democrats to turn Texas blue.

"Every delegate must commit themselves before they leave this convention that we will give our 100 percent of the time we can, 100 percent the money we can, 100 percent the enthusiasm we can to 100 percent of our ticket."

The Texas Lieutenant Governor’s campaign also produced a rift between eventual nominee Dan Patrick and some Hispanic business leaders. Efforts to repair that rift may become easier or harder, depending on what kind of immigration language is adopted into the party platform Saturday.

Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.
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