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The Brief: June 11, 2012

Politics reigned at the state political conventions over the weekend, but another common thread ran through both Republicans and Democrats' festivities.

The Texas Democratic state convention on June 8, 2012

The Big Conversation:

Politics reigned at the state political conventions over the weekend, but another common thread ran through both Republicans and Democrats' festivities.

As expected, the Republican convention stole most of the spotlight, with the marquee U.S. Senate race dominating the weekend. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who received a polite reception Friday, drew boos a day later while jabbing at opponent Ted Cruz in a speech. Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum regaled an audience Friday night with tales from the presidential campaign trail. And in keeping with many of the weekend's speakers, featured guest Paul Ryan, the Republican congressman from Wisconsin, slammed the Obama administration but barely mentioned Mitt Romney in his speech, The Dallas Morning News notes.

Meanwhile, Democrats, beset by yet another year of dim statewide prospects, used the event to look hopefully to the future. Attendees heard from San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and state Rep. Joaquin Castro — the twin brothers often labeled the state party's brightest rising stars — as well as U.S. Senate candidate Paul Sadler, state Sen. Wendy Davis, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals candidate Keith Hampton and state Rep. Rafael Anchia, among others. Houston Mayor Annise Parker also made a little news Friday, suggesting that she might be open to someday running for statewide office.

But as the conventions wound down, the biggest marks on each party appeared to have been left by another group entirely: Hispanics, whose outsize social and political influence in party politics was underscored over the weekend.

At the Democratic convention, Gilberto Hinojosa on Saturday became the party's first Hispanic chairman. In a fiery speech, Hinojosa, who has served as a state district judge, justice on the state's 13th Court of Appeals and a Cameron County judge, said Republicans have waged a war on Texans families.

“Don’t give me anything. Just give me the opportunity to get it,” he said in Spanish, adding in English: “That is what America is all about. That is what our Democratic Party is all about. Those are our values and, damn it, don’t question my patriotism.”

Hinojosa's victory, as the Tribune's Julián Aguilar and Ross Ramsey wrote, reflects the state’s exploding Hispanic growth, as well as the party’s longtime success with and reliance on the demographic.

But the real surprise came from the GOP convention, where on Friday attendees approved an unprecedented addition to their official party platform: support for a national guest-worker program, which would bring foreign nationals to the U.S. when jobs become available.

Though one delegate called the change a "tough pill to swallow" that "didn't go down easy," some Republicans greeted the move as a welcoming gesture to Hispanics who disapprove of the party's stances on immigration.

"It takes away a tool that Democrats have used for years to drive a wedge between conservative Hispanics and Republicans," said delegate Bob Price of TexasGOPvote.com.

In other news…

Democrats and Republicans weren't the only ones meeting this weekend. The Libertarian and Green parties also held state conventions, which both parties use to nominate candidates for state and federal office. The Libertarian convention drew Gary Johnson, who accepted the party’s nomination for president at the Libertarians' national convention in May. And the Greens got to hear from none other than actress Roseanne Barr, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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