SAN ANTONIO -- Thousands of Texas Republicans descended on San Antonio Thursday to kick off their party’s convention. The every-other-year event is a chance to hear from prominent politicians, elect party leaders and set priorities for the next legislative session.
But the big picture goal – finding party unity heading into the midterm elections.
“It’s not just the Republican Party. Every party has a lot of dividing going on. People are so divided right now they can’t find a way to get together,” said delegate Jenny Robertson.
The traditional floor fight over the party platform could be where the big divide plays out.
While much of the state platform remains the same from convention to convention, there isn’t consensus on everything. Immigration could take a controversial center stage as some push to resurrect the Texas Solution, which calls for a “national temporary worker program.” Gun rights could also trigger a big debate. In the wake of several school shootings, some Republicans are ready to push back against any school safety proposals that restrict state gun laws.
State Republicans will also decide Friday if they want to stick with their current party chair or go with a challenger. James Dickey has led the party since last year. He's being challenged by Cindy Asche, a GOP activist. Both gave their pitches to Republicans Thursday for why they're better positioned to lead the party into the future.
Asche has hit Dickey over issues she says disqualify him to lead the party, bringing up a 2004 securities fraud case involving him, which Dickey says has been misrepresented. She's also tried to position herself as the more conservative candidate and one that can unify party divisions.
"We need full time servant leadership that is dedicated today, not only to uniting the Republicans that have been with us for years, but making the thousands that voted for Trump not just guests at our party, but members of our family,” Asche said in her candidate speech to delegates.
Dickey touted his record and experience as party leader.
"Together we've won at the local level, at the state level, at the national level and most certainly we have won at the White House and I want us to keep winning together," Dickey said.
Click the video link above to hear from delegates about the party platform and our one-on-one interview with Chairman Dickey.