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Politics

At Texas' GOP Convention, Delegates & Leaders Tout Trump in Cruz Country

TXGOPConvention.jpg
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune
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Front row delegates at Day 3 of the Texas Republican Convention in Fort Worth, Saturday June 7, 2014.

Republican Party leaders and activists are meeting in Dallas this week for their bi-annual convention. Aside from discussing party platforms and future legislative priorities, leaders are trying to gin up excitement ahead of this year’s presidential election. However, that’s proving to be tougher than usual in a state that overwhelmingly supported Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary.

The Texas GOP convention is one of the biggest gatherings of Republicans in the country. So, getting everyone on the same page can be hard. That’s why state party leaders like Gov. Greg Abbott gave some marching orders Thursday:

“We must defend the Constitution by defeating Hillary Clinton,” Abbott decried.

Though Abbott didn’t say this explicitly, that means getting the vote out for the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee Donald Trump. And there’s a reason people like Abbott aren’t shouting Trump’s name at the top of their lungs in the convention. For one, Texas is Cruz Country, and a lot of convention attendees – people like Vicky Enrigue from Mason –just aren’t over Cruz’s loss.

“I am very disappointed in this election. I have supported Senator Cruz ever since he was running for the Senate and I am really torn on about voting for Donald Trump, and I really don’t know what to do right now,” Enrigue said.

She says she just can’t get behind Trump right now – that she just doesn’t like him – but she’ll see how she feels after the national convention. But, for now, Enrigue’s just not really excited about this election. For Art Martinez De Vara, who works with the Texas GOP as an assistant parliamentarian , that’s not good.

“At the Republican state convention people are die-hard politicos. So, I hear a lot of people soured about the presidential race. But they typically understand the importance of going to the ballot,” De Vara said. “But how far down in the party that goes is what concerns people. There are a lot of people who aren’t as in tune and as active as those who would go to a convention. So, I think there is going to be an enthusiasm challenge."

That’s a serious problem for Republicans.  As Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told the crowd, the party needs to keep enthusiasm high in Texas up and down the ballot.

“We are not going to let the Democrats ever take Texas, because if they ever do the electoral votes of Texas and California, New York means we can never win the White House no matter who our candidate was,” he said.

There are a lot of delegates in the party who get this. Paul Gebolys from the Woodlands says that’s typically how it goes – when it comes down to it, a delegate supports the party’s nominee.

“Yeah, I supported Ted Cruz all the way. But the members of the party have spoken and that settles that for me,” he said. “So I will be working for Mr. Trump to get him elected."

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