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State Parties Will All Convene This Weekend

Political parties are getting down to the business of state conventions. In Texas, the four top parties will convene, in different cities, this weekend. Ben Philpott reports for KUT News and The Texas Tribune.

Gov. Rick Perry, closing his speech to the first general session of the Texas Republican Convention.

RepublicanDemocraticLibertarian and Green delegates will spend the weekend going over party platforms, holding training sessions, listening to candidate speeches and, for the smaller parties, selecting their statewide candidates.

Audio: Ben Philpott's story for KUT News

Pat Dixon is the Libertarian Party of Texas chairman. About 150 party delegates will meet near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to hear from dozens of statewide office candidates before voting on the nominees.

“Some of these candidates have already been talking to delegates ahead of time,” Dixon said. “But there will be an opportunity for delegates to find out more about these candidates and make sure that they're making a good decision."

The Texas Green Party meets this weekend, too. State-designated "minor" parties must hold conventions the second weekend in June. That rule means dozens of delegates heading to San Antonio.

The Democratic and Republican parties will hold much larger conventions, with 10,000 to 12,000 delegates each. There, the news won't be which candidates are selected but what each party puts in its platform — a document, SMU political scientist Cal Jillson says, that is often made controversial by those writing it.

"The delegates to the convention are the true believers on both sides," Jillson said.

He says that historically, Democratic delegates have come up with a far-left liberal platform, Republicans with an ultraconservative one, platforms that candidates in both parties have trouble swallowing.

"I remember George W. Bush during his gubernatorial campaigns would be asked about the Republican Party platform and he essentially said, I didn't read it, I'm not bound by it, don't know anything about it,” Jillson said. “By which he meant, don't hold me to that.”

Both the Democratic and Republican conventions have the added drama of taking place before the July 31 runoff elections, which means candidates still battling to win a party nomination could bring their fights to the conventions.

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