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TDP Convention: The Live Blog

The Texas Democratic Party State Convention is underway in Corpus Christi, and the Tribune is there to cover the whole shebang. Follow along with reporters Ben Philpott, Brandi Grissom and Reeve Hamilton as they bring you live updates and photos from the weekend.

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The Texas Democratic Party State Convention is underway in Corpus Christi. Today, Democrats are gathered at the beachfront convention center for a day of caucuses on a range of issues, including demographics, the environment and the death penalty. This afternoon, attendees will split up by Senate district to elect local party leaders.

But the main event is later tonight:  gubernatorial nominee Bill White will address the whole crowd in the American Bank Center arena. 

In the meantime, there are plenty of other sights to be seen: an unidentified person running around in a chicken suit, hair care magnate Farouk Shami and a double-wide trailer offered to (and ignored by) Gov. Rick Perry — to name a few.

By the end of the weekend, the Democrats will have elected a chairman (either incumbent Boyd Richie or little-known challenger Michael Barnes), set their platform, and debated their unique hybrid primary process.  The Texas Tribune will be there to cover the whole shebang.

Liveblog

by Reeve Hamilton
Democrats aren't the only ones here. Mark Miner, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry's campaign, swung by this morning, but was asked to leave. He's still in town, though, riding around in his "BTECH Bill" truck with a generator in the back — it's the same one he had at a recent press conference where he was shouted down by Democrats.

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These are things you won't here at the convention this week," Miner says. You won't hear about BTECH — a company he served business to when he was mayor of Houston during Hurricane Rita. You won't hear him talk about his service on the corporate board of BJ Services, a company under investigation by congress. So, we're here today to talk about these issues."

Miner's also handing out a press packet complete with NoDoz, Tylenol, and bottled "White Water."

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by Reeve Hamilton
The morning was filled with issue and affiliate caucuses. Attendees could gather and discuss relevant matters with whichever of the following groups they identified with: Democrats for Life, Gun Owners Caucus, Non-Urban Caucus, Democrats with Disabilities, Tejano Democrats and so on and so forth.

One of the more anticipated panel discussions was snappily titled "What Can You Do To Take Back Our State Board?" and moderated by SBOE candidate Michael Soto. Several minutes before it even began, only standing room remained. Eventually, the building found an empty ballroom, mass migration ensued, and everybody was able to enjoy the speakers from a sitting position.

State Reps. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, and Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, both stopped by to speak to the assembled textbook enthusiasts.

Expect to hear a lot more about the SBOE in the next 24 hours. Texas Freedom Network is holding a workshop on how to "stop the right wing agenda" on the SBOE tomorrow morning.
by Reeve Hamilton
That double-wide trailer that the AFL-CIO offered up to Gov. Rick Perry as an alternative to his nearly $10,000 per month rental mansion — it's here. Apparently, since the governor hasn't expressed a strong interest in living there, it will be donated to a needy family.

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Around lunchtime, the trailer served as a makeshift buffet, complete with "Perry's kill" Coyote Beef. (Below is Democratic activist Carl Davis of Houston).

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by Reeve Hamilton
Farouk Shami is also in the house. I talked to him about those solar panel factories he promised to build. He says they're on the way. Listen here:
















And, yes, he is on fire.

by Reeve Hamilton
Obviously, the music video in that previous post is a bit dated. There is absolutely no chance that Shami will be "our future Texas Governor" — not for at least the next four years, anyway.

If anyone needs a reminder: Bill White defeated Shami in the race to be the Democratic gubernatorial nominee. That's why White is the headliner tonight, while Shami spoke to some caucuses this morning.
by Brandi Grissom
Longtime motorcycle lobbyist known around the Capitol as "Sputnik" died Thursday, and Democratic motorcycle enthusiasts here at the Democratic State Convention are in mourning today, said state Rep. Norma Chavez, D-El Paso.
Sputnik, whose real name was Bill Strain, died of a massive heart attack early yesterday morning, according to letter from Terri Williams (http://abatesc.com/web/Latest/rip-sputnik-chairman-of-the-texas-motorcycle-rights-assoc.html), state secretary of the Texas Motorcycle Rights Association. The tattooed, mohawked, leather-wearing motorcycle man was a fixture at the Capitol, and he lobbied for both motorcycle safety legislation and for workers' rights.
Chavez and other motorcycle enthusiasts here at the convention are wearing black armbands with the word "Sputnik" written in white to show their respects.

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by Reeve Hamilton
Contrary to what you may think, political conventions are not all business. Here's a list of convention-affiliated parties — and an incomplete list at that — going on tonight.

Most don't start for a few more hours. The exception, of course, is the one put on by the Young Democrats.

Tejano Democrats Pachanga
Omni Marina Riviera Ballroom
8:30pm-11:30pm

Blogger Caucus Party
Bourbon Street Grill
313 N. Chaparral St.
8:30pm - 12am

House Democratic Campaign Committee
Omni Bayfront; Corpus Christi Ballrooms B&C
8:30pm-12am

Catch the Wave Celebration (hosted by Corpus Christi state Reps. Abel Herrero and Solomon Ortiz Jr.)
Brewster St. Icehouse
1724 N. Tancahua
8:30pm-12am

Young Democrats Party
Produce Art Gallery
415 Peoples St.
End of general session - 2am
by Brandi Grissom
I stopped by my old stomping grounds to see how things were going with El Paso Democrats. Lots of familiar faces.
State Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, got the bunch riled up about the November election. He's running against Republican Dee Margo — again. He beat Margo two years ago and won the seat that former GOP state Rep. Pat Haggerty had represented for decades.
"We need to make sure Dee Margo is a three-time loser," Moody told the small crowd, referring to Margo's previous House loss and his loss to Democratic state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh in 2006.

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Linda Chavez-Thompson, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, stopped in to say hello and introduce herself to El Paso Democrats and got a standing ovation, hugs and even a baby kiss.
"We're going to tell that State Board of Education what they can do with their history books," she said to rousing applause.

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The group also got a visit from Michael Barnes, state party chair hopeful. He told El Paso Democrats he hopes that in two years it will be a Hispanic woman running to lead the party. For too long, he said, Hispanics in Texas have not been listened to.

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by Ben Philpott
The crowd is getting warmed up here at the Democratic convention. A small band (woodwinds and brass -- not guitar and drums) is playing the songs of the military branches as the flags of each are brought out for recognition.

They've got multi-colored spotlights waving around the auditorium like it's the opening of the "Price is Right."

The American Bank Center Arena holds about 8,000. Not very full for now.
by Reeve Hamilton
As the convention prepares to get underway, back in Austin there's a fight brewing. The Travis County Republican Party has filed an ethics complaint against the Back to Basics Political Action Committee, which just began airing an anti-Perry ad.

A bit preoccupied as the big show begins in Corpus Christi, Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirsten Gray joked, "I didn't know there was a Travis County GOP."

As blue as Travis County may be, it turns out they do have a GOP. They sent out a press release saying the following:

"Under the elections code of the Texas Ethics Commission a PAC must wait for 60 days from the time of its establishment and have at least 10 contributors before running any advertisements. Back to Basics was created with a single $250,000 contribution from wealthy trial lawyer Steve Mostyn on May 19th and is now running its first ads only 37 days later. It plans to expand this campaign from Austin into the Houston and Dallas areas, though whether that will be done in violation of the ethics rules is not clear."

"Under TEC regulations the PAC may be fined and its treasurer, Dallon James, is guilty of a Class A misdemenor and could be jailed as a result."

"The Travis County Republican Party has filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission and hopes that the Back to Basics PAC will decide to play by the rules before the TEC has to take action against them. TCRP Chair Rosemary Edwards observed that "The smears and cheap shots featured in their advertisement are Democrat politics-as-usual, but actual violations of the ethics code are unacceptable and illegal."
by Ben Philpott
The politics of the Republicans and Democrats are different to be sure. And so are their conventions. The GOP convention (two weeks ago in Dallas) was high glitz with a bunch of pre-produced video segments. They had a stage set up that would rival any convention in the world — multi-tiered — great lights — big screens everywhere.

The Democrats didn't have an a very flashy convention stage in 2008 (I seem to recall a podium and a couple of large ferns) but this year the stage have a much nicer set-up. It's not high-glitz or multi-tiered, but it does have some fancy lights and big TV screens.
by Ben Philpott
And the party kicks off with Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feeling" as Democratic Chair Boyd Richie takes the stage....

....and procedes to give the rules of the convention to the crowd. A rockin' song -- and a not so rocking intro.
by Brandi Grissom
A couple shots of the arena by the talented Spencer Selvidge as things get amped up here at the convention.

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by Reeve Hamilton
U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, and state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, enter to a Valley classic: "Beautiful Day" by U2.
by Brandi Grissom
U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi: "When the tough gets going, the tough we will bind together and be strong."
Ortiz welcomed Democrats to his seaside city and urged them to "Keep the party alive."
That first phrase may not be an oft repeated one, but his next comments are a common refrain for the Democrats, for about the last 15 years or so.
"This is the time when we are going to turn things around, and we are going to have statewide officials elected this year. We can do it," Ortiz said.
by Reeve Hamilton
State Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa says, "Can you imagine being a Republican? That would be a shame." He then lists some disagreements he has with Republican leadership. Examples include growing deficits and poor graduation rates. Each item is followed by the chant "Shame! Shame! Shame!" Some in the crowd are prepared for this and they shout along.

He closes by revealing what must be a little-known fringe benefit of Democratic Party membership. "I'm proud to be a Democrat!" he said. "I know I'm going to Heaven!"

Is that in the platform?
by Ben Philpott
Local County Democratic Party leader just gave big "Welcome" to the delegates. And "thanks" to Coastal Bend Dems for putting the convention together.

And she just brought up "Change" which worked well enough in 2008. We'll see in 2010.
by Brandi Grissom
Invest time and money in South Texas and Texas will turn blue, the chairwoman of the Nueces County Democrats says. South Texas is the pot at the end of the rainbow, she says.
The Hispanics who can save the day for the Dems are right here in South Texas, she says. Super Democrats? Do they have capes?
by Brandi Grissom
Chairman Boyd Richie is back at the mic. He says the folks here have the chance to shape the state and the future of their party.
"We will have discussion and debate and even a little competition between ideas and individuals," Richie says.
A little foreshadowing of the upcoming election for party chairman — his own position — and the debate over the Texas two-step, the party's hybrid primary-caucus voting system.
by Reeve Hamilton
Boyd Richie just railed against Republicans using Washington-style politics and then mocked Gov. Rick Perry's complaining about Washington all the time.
by Ben Philpott
Richie is into the "Red Meat" speech he should have given after walking out to "I Gotta Felling" earlier in the evening.
by Brandi Grissom
"Imagine what it will be like to actually have a governor who understands public policy," Richie says, generating some guffaws in the audience.
by Brandi Grissom
"Winning in 2010 is about we," Richie says. "We're going to win."
by Reeve Hamilton
Brandi, I think he meant Wii, the Nintendo console.
by Ben Philpott
Hey -- they just put up a "high-gloss" video on a couple of big screens. I guess they saw my earlier post about production quality at the GOP convention.

Video is a "Mission Impossible" like message. Saying the Democrats can accept this mission to elect Democrats and evict Governor Perry from his rental home.
by Reeve Hamilton
There was some Texas Tribune video mixed in there. Richie says the video will soon be publicly available. Look for our logo.
by Reeve Hamilton
Oh, now they are playing that Sound of Music parody released a short while ago. I'll try to post a copy so you can watch along.
by Brandi Grissom
More videos bashing Gov. Perry's luxurious $9,000-a-month rental mansion.
by Reeve Hamilton
Here it is:
by Brandi Grissom
The crowd is chanting "Evict Rick! Evict Rick!"
by Ben Philpott
And we've just had another chicken sighting — this time not in a chicken suit but a chicken in a video that included a segment on Governor Perry refusing to debate Bill White.

Perry's people say they're ready to debate — just need to see all those White tax returns from his years in public office.
by Reeve Hamilton
This is the clip Ben's talking about:
by Reeve Hamilton
State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, enters to "Come Together" by The Beatles and loud applause.
by Brandi Grissom
Sen. Watson says he's here to take the Democrats' money.
by Brandi Grissom
They're getting ready to send around the collection buckets.
"Do you know what you could do with $25?" Watson asks.
Well, we could pay Reeve's salary for a week.
by Ben Philpott
And with the change, Brandi, we could buy a couple cups of coffee.
by Ben Philpott
Boy Watson's doing a nice job — I think KUT could use him at our next fund drive.
by Reeve Hamilton
Oooooh! They just played an ad attacking Gov. Rick Perry for cronyism ... made by fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
by Brandi Grissom
Now, it's a video about the BP oil spill and Perry's comments that called it an "Act of God" and Perry saying the company had a good safety record.
by Reeve Hamilton
And here's a cameo from Jane Lynch in her role from TV's Glee as cheerleading coach Sherry Sylvester (I think. I don't watch that show):
by Ben Philpott
And here's a first Bill White video of the night. It's a slideshow of him traveling around the state meeting people.

While the video is going on a crowd with Bill White signs held high pour onto the convention floor. WIth "Ready To Go" from Republica playing. Something tells me Mr. White is about to appear on stage.
by Brandi Grissom
Well, it wasn't White's big entrance just yet. Instead it's Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio. I hope she doesn't tell us about make-up sex with her husband like she did in 2008.
by Reeve Hamilton
Sen. Van de Putte says she has been waiting for a leader like Bill White since "about five minutes after Ann Richards got up from that governor's desk."
by Reeve Hamilton
She admits that "it might be a little difficult" to imagine Bill White as a young man. She advises trying to picture him "with a little more hair."
by Reeve Hamilton
State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, enters to "Rockin' in the USA" by John Mellencamp (hat tip to Texas Observer editor Bob Moser for knowing that one).
by Reeve Hamilton
Just an FYI: Another way to keep up with the convention is to follow the #tdpsc hashtag on Twitter.
by Brandi Grissom
Here are some photos from the Democratic crowd rockin' out to "Ready to Go"

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by Reeve Hamilton
West repeats the phrase "We need..." until he gets the desired response: "Bill White!"
by Brandi Grissom
Now, here comes Bill White's daughter, Elena White. "From the bottom of my heart, thank you," she says to the crowd.
by Reeve Hamilton
Ben said this speech is already better than Van de Putte's or West's — and he said that before she busted out some fluent Spanish.

Fun facts: She also spent some time in Jordan, which is why she spoke to the Muslim Democrat Caucus this morning.
by Brandi Grissom
Bill White enters to "Start Me Up" by the Rolling Stones. The crowd is going wild. Well, you know, wild for a Texas Democratic Party State Convention.
by Brandi Grissom
They're chanting "We want Bill! We want Bill! We want Bill!"
by Reeve Hamilton
The convention is running 45 minutes ahead of schedule. White says this is a sign of Democratic eagerness.
by Brandi Grissom
"Look we come from different places, but aren't we proud to be Texans," White says to the crowd.

Texas needs more jobs, he says. "We know that Texas is ready for a new governor."

A few chant, "We need Bill!"
by Brandi Grissom
Here come the Perry digs:

"In Rick Perry's Texas it is every man for himself," White says. "In Rick Perry's Texas it's the special interest, not the public interests that calls the shots."
by Ben Philpott
The attacks go on — with our first "Part-Time Perry" of the night. White will still need to lay out why people should vote for him on the campaign trail — other than "I'm not Perry." But at the Democratic convention — attacks work.
by Reeve Hamilton
Food and Wine Magazine rears its head.
by Brandi Grissom
"Rick Perry's in it for himself," White says. The audience parrots back. Not much of a chant, really.
by Brandi Grissom
And this time with feeling, they chant "Rick Perry's in it for himself!!"
by Reeve Hamilton
White is giving an early review of Perry's forthcoming book "Fed Up!" Spoiler: He doesn't think very highly of it.
by Ben Philpott
It is a mouth-full of a chant.
by Brandi Grissom
While Perry's gallivanting about to Asia and not working many hours, White says he's here getting things done.
"I will always be in it for Texas," he says.
by Reeve Hamilton
Hey — now he's speaking Spanish unexpectedly. Does that just happen all the time in the White household?
by Reeve Hamilton
Jokes aside, White is more animated in this speech than I've seen him before.
by Ben Philpott
Now's he's talking about what he's done as mayor of Houston. Lowered crime, built surpluses, cut tax rates and, "wasn't afraid of hard work."
by Brandi Grissom
We'll implement a 5-point plan, White says:
1 - Expand pre-k programs
2 - Work with schools colleges, and technical schools to restore excellence
3 - Cut dropout rates by treating a dropout as an emergency
4 - Let teachers teach reading and writing and other things I cant hear over the cheering - rather than how to score on a test
5 - Make higher education more affordable and more accessible
by Ben Philpott
Dang...looks like mentioning the State Board of Education is the big applause line of the night.
by Reeve Hamilton
White mentions alleged Perry ties to the Green Party effort to get on the ballot. He also says Perry's attacking White's Houston — and Houston's not going to put up with it.
by Brandi Grissom
Rick Perry's Texas is different than ours, he says.
Insurance and utility rates skyrocket.
White wants wages to skyrocket.
in Perry's Texas we import workers from other countries.
White want to train Texans.
In Perry's Texas, SBOE injects ideology into classrooms.
White wants computers in schools.
by Ben Philpott
In Perry's Texas: State boards are pressured by the needs of big campaign donors.

Bill White's Texas: Government will be servant not master

Perry's Texas: the governor threatens to leave, as White says, "...the greatest country in the union."

Bill White's Texas: Its own country?
by Brandi Grissom
Sam Houston and Rick Perry are both going to lose on the issue of secession, White says.
The difference is Sam Houston was against it and Perry is for it.
by Brandi Grissom
White says he's going to live with his wife Andrea in a double-wide trailer while the Governor's Mansion is under renovation.
Applause.2
by Reeve Hamilton
Sign of the times: Bill White is an avid Facebooker. He just told a story about introducing himself to a cowboy somewhere out in the state. When White introduced himself, the cowboy said, "I know who you are. You're my Facebook friend."
by Ben Philpott
It takes a special kind of election for "double-wide trailer" to be such a big applause line.
by Reeve Hamilton
Here are White's prepared remarks. Be warned that he deviated a bit (most notably with the Facebooking cowboy story):

We come from the endless horizons of the high plains to the shaded forests of East Texas, from the bustling morning traffic of our great cities to the calm sunsets along our coasts. Texas is home to proud people. We come from all backgrounds, but we share so much:

We all believe that Texans need more jobs with real futures.

We all understand that Texans work hard to create a better life for our children.

And we all know that Texans are ready for a new governor!

We gather in Corpus today because we share common values:

We believe in freedom and diversity, but we understand that real leadership unites us.

We take pride in our state’s heritage, but we understand that we have come a long way in breaking down barriers and our greatest days can be ahead of us.

I am honored by your support, and especially by the love and fighting spirit of my family. I am inspired by the friendship of so many present today.

We gather with a sense of excitement, preparing for this great test of Texas’ future.

In Rick Perry’s Texas it is “every man for himself.” You see, Rick Perry and his friends put special interests above the public interest.

And in promotion of self-interest, it is fair to say Rick Perry leads by example.

So we find that Perry this year has drawn a full state salary but scheduled only seven hours per week for state work. How can you explain this to state teachers, troopers and so many others are asked to do more with less? Simple: part-time Perry is in it for himself.

We learn that Perry charges taxpayers for a $10,000 a month rented mansion, larger than anything used by prior governors, with chefs and a subscription to Food & Wine magazine. How can you explain this to taxpayers when our state faces an $18 billion budget crisis because it is living beyond its means? Simple: part-time Perry is in it for himself.

We know that Rick Perry accepted more federal stimulus dollars than any Governor except those in California and New York. In fact, federal dollars have been the fastest growing source of state funding since he has been governor. Yet now we hear that he is writing a book on state’s rights, called “Fed Up.” How does he have time to write a book when he hasn’t even written a state budget that adds up? Simple: part-time Perry is in it for himself.

Many may remember that Rick Perry was the statewide chairman for Al Gore’s first presidential race, then immediately switched parties when he saw an opening to move up. Now it appears that he spots another opening—national leader of the far right wing. The opening was created when Ms. Palin cashed in. Are we surprised? No: Part time Perry is in it for himself.

Look, I may not have all the practice and polish of a career politician. Perry’s been on the public payroll so long that his state pension is higher than the salaries of most Texans. But I can assure you of one thing: Though Rick Perry is in it for Rick Perry, I will always be in it for Texas.

I learned the value of service from my parents, life-long educators. My dad held down two jobs for most of the time I was growing up. My brother and I learned hard work, faith, and the value of education. En San Antonio creemos que todos merecen respecto. We were taught that life is about what you give, not what you take; it’s about preparing for the future-- leaving our community, our state, our nation, better than we found it.

I used this background to build great businesses, to create jobs, to balance budgets and meet payrolls.

These values and skills served me well as mayor of our largest city. We cut crime rates, expanded parks and health clinics, cleaned the air, brought dropouts back to school, and improved services for veterans. We did so while building surpluses and cutting property tax rates for five straight years.

Because I’m in it for Texas we’ll do the hard work Rick Perry has never done: we’ll prepare Texas for a better future. That means moving forward—not standing still—on education and job training.

First, we will expand pre-K programs that work.

Second, we will work with school districts, community colleges, and employers to improve career and technical education.

Third, we will cut drop out rates, by treating it as an emergency when students do not return to school.

Fourth, we will let educators teach writing, reasoning, and problem-solving skills rather than teaching how to make a minimum score on an annual high-stakes multiple choice test.

Fifth, we will make college education more affordable for more Texans.

Moving forward in education and job training will produce a better long run economy, more jobs. After all, people with more skills earn more, spend more, invest more, and that helps the whole economy.

Of course this campaign won’t be easy. They will try to scare rather than to inspire. And Rick Perry is a career professional, who will say anything to hold on to power.

Perry will take credit for all that has always been good in Texas, though that attitude alone is proof he has been in office too long.

He will make false attacks, including attacks on our state’s largest city. No wonder his handlers don’t want him to debate.

Rick Perry will claim he represents Texas values. But Perry’s Texas is different than our Texas.

In Rick Perry’s Texas insurance and utility rates rise faster than in other states. In our Texas wages will go up faster because we invest in people.

In Rick Perry’s Texas we import nurses and welders and other skilled workers from abroad. In our Texas we will train more Texans to do those jobs.

In Rick Perry’s Texas the State Board of Education injects political ideology into classrooms. In our Texas we’ll put more computers in our classrooms.

In Rick Perry’s Texas state boards and agencies are pressured from the top to serve those who help the Governor’s re-election. In our Texas government will be the servant, not the master, and our customers will be ordinary Texans.

In Rick Perry’s Texas the governor threatens to leave the world’s greatest country. He is content allow our state to compete with Mississippi for lack of social progress. In our Texas other states will follow Texas because we will be the leader.

In Rick Perry’s Texas citizens are stuck in traffic in big cities because the Texas Department of Transportation was doing the bidding of a foreign company promoting the land grab known as the Trans-Texas Corridor. In our Texas we will work across party lines for a new mobility plan, assisting commuters to get from home to work and all communities to get their goods to market.

In Rick Perry’s Texas the best days may be behind us. In our Texas our best days are ahead of us.

Let us go from this convention, staffing phone banks, knocking on doors, and sending emails. Lift up all who share our values, from the courthouse to the statehouse to the double-wide trailer Andrea and I will live in while the Mansion is rebuilt. Describe to friends and neighbors, from both parties, the simple choice we face in the governor’s race.

Rick Perry is in it for Rick Perry. By the grace of God and with your help, I’m it for Texas, for you.
by Brandi Grissom
And White makes his big exit. The crowd chants "We want Bill! We want Bill! We want Bill!!"
"God Bless Texas" blaring over the speakers. (How original. The GOP used the same tune two weeks ago dozens of times.)
by Reeve Hamilton
The crowd seems very sincerely energized by White's speech.
by Reeve Hamilton
Benediction time. Things are wrapping up. Scroll down for a list of tonight's parties.
by Ben Philpott
And the night ends as it began with the Black Eyed Peas and "I Gotta Feeling." This time no dull convention rules to mess up the song.
by Ben Philpott
Now it's "Play That Funky Music...White Boy." I guess that a reference to Bill White's abilities to...bring da noise — as well as da funk.
by Ben Philpott
We'll be back tomorrow morning to give you the scene from Corpus Christi. On the agenda: party platform, chairman election and many more speeches from statewide candidates.
by Reeve Hamilton
Perry spokesman Mark Miner issued the following statement after White's speech last night:
"In delivering one of the most negative speeches by a nominee for Texas governor in modern history, Bill White continues to run a campaign of no substance. Governor Perry’s proven leadership, Texas values, and priorities of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and job creation have made our state the envy of the nation. Voters will reject Bill White’s liberal agenda of supporting Obamacare and cap and trade legislation that would cripple the Texas economy, greater restrictions on the right to bear arms, and limited voting rights for the military."
by Reeve Hamilton
Austin's state Sen. Kirk Watson held a panel on new media this morning.

Watson's tips for a strong social media network: Maintain your Wikipedia page, Use search advertising (like Google ads), organize on Facebook, customize your conversation on Twitter, and create a clean website.

In the spirit of the event, I snapped a picture of it with my phone:

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The guy on the far left is Matt Glazer, one of the gurus behind the liberal Burnt Orange Report blog. Speaking of personalizing your conversation, Glazer admitted to being addicted to Twitter and using it primarily for "geek fighting." His favorite target: Michael Quinn Sullivan of the conservative Empower Texans blog.
by Ben Philpott
The Tribune and KUT had an interview with Bill White this morning. A couple of high points: He says he will not be releasing any more tax returns. But if members of the press have questions about his finances — he'll be happy to answer them.

So does he expect he'll ever debate Gov. Perry? "No," he doesn't think "Perry's handlers" will let him be in an uncontrolled environment like a debate.
by Brandi Grissom
Things are about to get started down on the convention arena floor. But the Dem's rules committee does not appear to be anywhere close to wrapping up their business for the morning.
They've been talking about a number of issues related to the party's complicated two-step primary voting process. The meeting started at 8 a.m.
Right now, they're debating some relatively minor changes to the caucus process proposed by state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas. Some of the folks on the committee want the party to stop using the caucus process to award presidential delegates. They want all the presidential delegates to be awarded based on the primary vote. Others, including West, want to keep the caucus system with some modifications to use more technology and make the process more secure.
So far, though, most of the discussion has been about those modifications.
Meanwhile, a group that wants to eliminate the caucus process is circulating a petition to get signatures from folks who support that. They're not sure yet if they have the numbers they need to bring up that change for the entire convention to vote on later today.
Two years ago, in 2008, they got the signatures they needed, but the party decided instead to wait on West and his committee to go around the state and get input on the process.
The modifications they're voting on now are ones that come from West's report.
We're going to be here a while, folks.
by Brandi Grissom
Here's the background on the two-step debate: http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/texas-democratic-party/a-preview-of-the-2010-state-democratic-convention/
by Reeve Hamilton
Linda Chavez-Thompson is speaking. "We'll never know what happened on that fateful day when Gov. Rick Perry met with that fearsome coyote," she says. This is one of many mentions of Perry's coyote kill heard this morning — and it's only 11 am.
by Ben Philpott
The booths at ANY political convention are about what you'd expect. Candidates, vendors, and special interest groups that align with which ever party's political philosophy. So I was just a little surprised to find Alliance for Life with a booth at the Democratic convention. Now they weren't the only anti-abortion group. Democrats for Life had a booth on the opposite side of the hall. But Alliance — and it's leader Joe Pojman are mainstays of Republican events — and aren't in the habit of endorsing Democrats.

Pojman told me they were having a good time at the convention. They had a steady stream of people stopping by asking questions. And he'd signed up about a dozen people to their e-mail list.

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by Ben Philpott
Linda Chavez-Thompson is now talking about the Republican plan to win the Hispanic vote. She says the GOP plan includes hiring Hispanic owned PR people that advertise beer and pizza. "You can stuff a jalapeño in a pig but that doesn't make it a chorizo," said Chavez-Thompson.
by Brandi Grissom
Linda Burgess, one of the folks gathering signatures for the proposal to eliminate the caucus process, just told me they're "getting close" to the number they need.
Meanwhile, the rules committee just voted on a rule to encourage using technology to allow voters to sign-in at their caucus meetings.
Exciting stuff.
by Reeve Hamilton
Meanwhile, the booth for the Kesha Rogers campaign is outside the convention. Kesha Rogers is a devotee of Lyndon LaRouche and, as such, supports the impeachment of Obama, increasing NASA missions to Mars, and fighting British imperialism. She won her primary and is the Democratic nominee to challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land.

Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirsten Gray said she's not aware that the Rogers campaign applied to have a booth in the exhibit hall. Gray mentioned that the South Texas Tea Party applied for a booth and was turned away. She suspects the Rogers campaign would have suffered a similar fate because the TDP executive committee has taken unprecedented steps to distance themselves from Rogers.

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by Brandi Grissom
Sen. West on the 2008 conventions: "We had credential challenges out the wazoo."
Most fun that's happened so far up here.
They decided not to break to go vote in the race between incumbent Party Chairman Boyd Richie and challenger Michael Barnes. Quite a few folks are leaving for the momentous event, though.
by Ben Philpott
While Rogers' booth is sitting outside -- her supporters have traveled in to perform random choral arrangements — including Hebrew and classical music selections. I told Reeve i really didn't want to blog about this because honestly — they've been flat each time i've heard them. It's been mostly the middle voices, altos and tenors. I know it's in a large convention hall — lots of noise around them — but as a former choral performer that's no excuse.
by Reeve Hamilton
Also outside is a single protester, Gilberto Balero Michel of Corpus Christi.

Michel says there is no single issue driving his distaste for Democrats (his signage reflects this), but "the killing of babies" really gets to him. He particularly admires and tries to model himself on James Dobson of Focus on the Family. He also speaks well of the Tea Party movement, but balks at being labeled a "Tea Partier" himself. "Everyone wants to label it," he says, "but I'm just a conservative."

Not even the sweltering Corpus Christi heat seems to faze him. "I'm not here for a fashion show," he said.

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by Reeve Hamilton
I should also mention that, in the few moments I spent outside visiting the Rogers booth, they were heckled twice. "You guys are crazy," one woman shouted as she drove by.

Michel, the lone protester, gets the same sort of thing. An angry convention attendee shouted, "Maybe you should hold a sign that says 'The End is Near!'"
by Reeve Hamilton
Michael Barnes, the young South Texas schoolteacher who is challenging incumbent Boyd Richie for the role of party chairman, just spoke. He was introduced by his mother-in-law and David Van Os, a former candidate for Texas attorney general. (This has been changed to correct the previous report that Barnes' father-in-law had also introduced him.)

In an energetic speech, Barnes explained, "We know there's a drought in Texas in our activists, and we need to change that!" He also mused, ""Boyd Richie is a great man from a small town. We need a great party from a great state."

Noteworthy: Barnes won the endorsement of the Hispanic caucus yesterday.
by Reeve Hamilton
No, they aren't his parents-in-law, but chairman Boyd Richie was introduced by former Austin state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos (the head of the Tejano Democrats) and current Austin state Sen. Kirk Watson.

Richie said that the TDP has the best voter file in the country, and they didn't have that four years ago, when he became chair.

Much of his speech focused on his wife, Betty, who joined him on stage. Richie likes to say that Democrats get a "two-fer" when they elect the Richies. Today, he praised Betty's role in his efforts slightly differently: "Roosters can crow, but hens deliver."
by Brandi Grissom
The riveting two-step debate now is over whether precinct conventions, or precinct caucuses, should be held on election night or on the Saturday following the primary election.
One committee member is worried doing that could confuse voters even more. Another is worried it will create an additional cost for the local parties.
by Brandi Grissom
West pulled down his motion on Saturday caucuses. Too much confusion.
The next motion was going to be on the two-step, but so many folks have gone down to the main convention floor that West says he wants to wait.
by Reeve Hamilton
They are tallying the votes for chairman. For more info on the candidates, go to the top link for a TT interview with Boyd Richie and the bottom one for Michael Barnes:

http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/texas-democratic-party/tdp-chair-faces-a-challenge-from-michael-barnes/
http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/texas-democratic-party/south-texas-teacher-covets-dem-party-chair/

by Reeve Hamilton
Boyd Richie easily retains his seat as chairman. The vote is 5,891.4 for Richie and 1,555.6 for Barnes.
by Brandi Grissom
After a 10-minute debate over whether to postpone debate on the two-step, the committee decided to take a 5-minute break.
This is painful.
by Reeve Hamilton
Now they are rolling through some remarks from the Congressional delegation: First up is U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz of Corpus Christi followed by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston.
by Reeve Hamilton
Followed by Gene Green of Houston. He says Democrats need to "leave here united and multiply."
by Reeve Hamilton
And now Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio. He says, "If any state is going to benefit from this [healthcare] bill, it's going to be Texas." The reason: Texas has the highest number of uninsured individuals.
by Reeve Hamilton
U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, says it's time for the rest of Texas to "learn from El Paso" and turn blue.
by Reeve Hamilton
The Congressional delegation exits the state to "Break on Through" by The Doors.
by Brandi Grissom
The two-step debate has resumed here in the rules committee. They're about to vote on a motion that would allocate all the party's presidential delegates based on the primary vote and not the caucuses. Essentially, this would eliminate the so-called Texas two-step.
by Brandi Grissom
Now, they're going around the table giving each of the 29 members of the committee a minute to express their feelings about getting rid of the two-step.
So far, the representative from Harris County's senate district 13 says he wants to keep the two-step because it encourages participation.
Sen. West says he wants to keep it, too.
by Ben Philpott
The Choir has left the building. The Kesha Rogers singers(supporters) were just escorted out of the convention center. No word yet why. Although I think their at times "off key" singing should have been enough to get the boot.
by Brandi Grissom
So far, with more than half the members voicing their opinions, it's looking like the committee is going to recommend keeping the two-step process.
A majority of the members so far say they want to keep the caucus process because it gets people involved in the political process and helps build the party.

by Brandi Grissom
Wow. This room was almost empty an hour ago. Now it's packed. I guess people are pretty interested in this two-step business.
by Brandi Grissom
The rules committee voted to keep the two-step primary voting system. The vote was 23-8. Next, the rules will go to the floor of the convention for a vote.
Opponents of the two-step are still gathering signatures to bring the question up for a vote by the entire convention. So, it ain't over yet.
by Reeve Hamilton
Jeff Weems, candidate for agriculture commissioner, just shouted, "I'm running against a groundhog!" (This is a reference to his opponent, Republican David Porter, not being very visible on the campaign trail and being unwilling to debate.)
by Brandi Grissom
Here we go. The debate over the two-step process is on the floor now. Sen. West is imploring the party members to keep the two-step.
"It's worked from a vantage point of getting more people involved in politics," West says.

Worth noting: Chairman Richie asked people to be mindful of the time. "I assume most of you would like to be out of here before midnight," he said.
by Brandi Grissom
Leroy Warren Jr., a Democrat from Collin County, got fired up at the mic. He wants to keep the two-step primary election process that allowed Barack Obama to get more delegates to the Democratic National Committee even though Hillary Clinton won the popular primary vote. He says others are using the veil of protecting minorities to try to change a system that allowed the black candidate to win election.
"These shenanigans ought to stop right now, and they ought to take that minority report and go trash it," he says.
by Brandi Grissom
The conventioners just voted to limit the speaking to one minute per person.
On a personal note, thank you.
by Brandi Grissom
Bob Slagle, former Democratic Party chairman who helped create the Texas two step, wants to keep the process. No surprise there. "This system has served us well," he says.
by Brandi Grissom
There's going to be a roll call vote. And it's not even close to midnight.
Short recess now to count the votes.
by Brandi Grissom
Announcement that the U.S. and Ghana are tied 1-1 draws applause as the roll call voting begins.
by Brandi Grissom
The first four Senate districts to report their votes are massively in favor of keeping the two-step primary voting process.
by Brandi Grissom
Texas two-step stays. The vote was 5,602 to 1,930.
by Brandi Grissom
Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, using his heavenly pipes (as described by gubernatorial candidate Bill White last night) to praise the Texas two-step:

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by Brandi Grissom
State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, is presenting the 2010 Democratic Party platform.
by Brandi Grissom
The platform was adopted with a voice vote. Chairman Richie said it's a platform Democrats can run on instead of from.

With that, we're hitting the road for home. See you back in Austin.
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