The Big Conversation:
Despite calls for accord, divisions appeared to define the first day of the state Republican convention.
Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday kicked off the convention with a rollicking speech that fueled speculation about his 2014 plans and beyond. "I'm not riding into the sunset," he told the audience. "I'm mounting up for the next operation." In his speech, Perry also repeatedly slammed the Obama administration — one of the surefire points of agreement among the attendees, whose various factions the party hopes to unite before the general election
But the cheers quickly turned to boos when Perry reasserted his support for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a U.S. Senate candidate facing off against Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz, whom the most vocal parts of the audience appeared to favor.
Tension over a likely speaker's race also surfaced Thursday. Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, who has said he'll challenge House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, for his post, had set up a booth to distribute campaign materials, and "Oust Straus" stickers were visible on the convention floor. Scheduled to address the convention this afternoon, Straus, whom some Republicans view as too moderate, may not receive the friendliest welcome.
Even marquee speaker Ron Paul, who addressed the subject of party unity directly, offered up some fodder. "Uniting [the party] is very important," he said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "But you have to ask: What are you going to unite around? If you unite behind the things that cost money, what good is that? We have to unite on the right principles."
Paul's remarks came a day after he effectively admitted in an email to his supporters that he wouldn't win the Republican nomination. Still, Paul went no further than that in his comments Thursday. "Why shouldn't we all just unite behind the Constitution?" he said.
On deck to make appearances today: Straus, U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Comptroller Susan Combs. Rick Santorum will also headline a private dinner event tonight, and Herman Cain is scheduled to host a party today with the Texas Young Republican Federation.
- The Republican state convention may overshadow its Democratic counterpart this weekend, but Boyd Richie, attending his last convention as chairman of the state Democratic Party, isn't relenting. Richie said Thursday that despite his inability to help propel a candidate to statewide victory during his six-year tenure, the party should remember the advancements it has made in recent years. “Candidates come and go, and for too long our party has been in the position of looking for that one candidate, that media star that is going to carry us instead of us carrying them,” he said. “So as we go forward, it is my hope that we will have a party that can carry candidates instead of having candidates that can carry the party.”
- The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced plans to approve a major part of Texas' clean air plan. The approval may help defuse some of the tension between the state and the federal government, which have clashed fiercely over air pollution regulations. "These are two organizations of people dedicated to their work who want a solution," said EPA spokeswoman Jennah Durant, according to the Austin American-Statesman. "With an announcement like this, it's not a win-or-lose scenario. It's about coming to a compromise both sides can agree on."
- A Bexar County judge ruled Thursday that state Sen. Jeff Wentworth’s defamation lawsuit against Elizabeth Ames Jones, his former primary opponent, may proceed. Wentworth last month filed a libel and slander suit against Jones for running campaign ads claiming that he had double-billed his campaign and the state for expenses. In a surprise, Jones ended up finishing third on May 29, behind Donna Campbell, who will face Wentworth in the July 31 runoff.
"I thought they were saying 'Dewwwww.'" — Rick Perry on the booing of David Dewhurst's name at the Republican convention on Thursday
- Not all the merchandise at GOP convention is political, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- State considers 85 mph speed limit on Austin area toll road, Austin American-Statesman
- Lobbyist spent $200,000 in leftover campaign cash on travel, restaurants, Austin American-Statesman
- In Era of Drought, Texas Cities Boost Water Rates, The Texas Tribune
- After Juneteenth Project Stalls, a Replacement Emerges for State Capitol, The Texas Tribune