GOP Hopes for Big Turnout at Convention

It’s the G.O.P’s turn to throw a party. Texas Republicans are in town for a State Convention and they expect a huge turnout. Party leaders say they will work to stay strong for candidates from the White House to the court house. Pat Hernandez has more.

The convention runs through Saturday at the George R. Brown Convention Center. It typically attracts about fourteen thousand delegates — half of which are alternates. State G.O.P leaders including the Chairman and Vice Chairman, will be selected; resolutions will be brought forth; and the state platform will be ratified. Political analyst Bill Miller says the convention draws to a close the primary process and starts the next phase of campaigning.

“The state convention rewards the party faithful, people who work hard. It gives them, you know, sort of a gathering of the tribe. They also, you know, are going to elect delegates to the National Convention which is really the plum. But I think the additional overlay here is, sort of the Libertarian side of the party, and the Ron Paul element and what they may want to influence with respect to things that are voted upon policy wise at the convention.”

He expects the Ron Paul contingent to express its opinion in such a manner that it will be hard to ignore. It was a different situation for Texas Democrats. Gerry Birnberg, chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party, says their state convention ended last weekend with no decision on what to do about the Texas Two-Step system of doling out delegates.

“There are some weaknesses in the system that need to be shored up, and maybe even we might decide to go to an entirely different method for selecting state delegates. But, rather than just do a knee jerk response, there needs to be study, there needs to be input from all across the state and that’s what the Democrats decided to do.”

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain will be represented at the convention by former rival Mitt Romney, who is to address a party banquet Friday night. Harris County Party Chair Woodfill says it’s a time for people in the grass roots to come together, unify and rally.

“People come together from all across the state of Texas, and it’s an opportunity not only to talk about what’s gong on in your part of the state but it’s an opportunity for us to unify around our candidates, to get excited and get ready for the challenges that we face between now and November.”

With this being a presidential election year, there are a lot of different political winds blowing, giving Democrats a ray of hope. But analyst Bill Miller doesn’t think the winds will be strong enough.

“You have to say if you were going to Vegas, you’d bet it’s still gonna be a republican state.”

He adds the outcome could depends on the presidential candidates and their respective behavior and campaigns.

Pat Hernandez. KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.