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The Brief: Texas GOP Has Unity on Platform. On Trump? Not So Much

Convention delegates take votes on all 266 planks in the platform while GOP leaders struggle in call for party unity under presumptive nominee Donald Trump.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz sits by himself in a hotel suite as he prepares for his keynote speech to Republican delegates in Dallas May 14, 2016.

The Big Conversation

Alongside featured speeches at the Texas GOP convention over the weekend in Dallas from former presidential candidate Ted Cruz, Gov. Greg Abbott and embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton, delegates also approved the Republican Party of Texas platform — a set of goals and principles for the party that's revised every two years.

As the Tribune's Ross Ramsey wrote, "it’s not really news that the latest Republican Party of Texas platform has some offbeat ideas in it."

The 266 planks of the party includes "strong" opposition to laws infringing on the right to bear arms, the appointment of unelected bureaucrats and "environmentalism that obstructs legitimate business interests."

Ramsey wrote that "every single one of those ideas — sound and/or unsound — was approved by the delegates at this convention. They didn’t vote on the platform as a whole. They voted to approve every single plank — 266 of them."

The list also includes a call for "innocent human life" to be protected from "fertilization to natural death" in addition to a reminder that "homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has been ordained by God in the Bible."

While delegates agreed on the numerous platform planks, state Republican leaders struggled to call for party unity during the convention with the prospect of Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee.

The Tribune's Patrick Svitek and Abby Livingston wrote, "there was little visible resistance to Trump, but the ambivalence loomed large over" the convention, where "in speech after speech, statewide officials and lawmakers took varying approaches to Trump, few offering a warm embrace."

Cruz was not one to offer a warm embrace, instead the former candidate made it clear he was in "no rush" to get behind Trump as the party's nominee, Svitek wrote.

"Nobody stood and fought harder, more effectively and for longer, to prevent where we are now than I did," Cruz said.

View a slideshow of scenes from the 2016 state Republican Party convention. 

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: If School Finance System is Legal, What’s the Incentive to Fix it?, by Ross Ramsey – A Texas Supreme Court decision saying the state’s school funding system is a big, stinking mess — but not an unconstitutional one — might be just the medicine to keep things just the way they are.

Money, History Collide in South Texas Congressional Race, by Abby Livingston – A Rio Grande Valley political fight for the ages enters its home stretch as early voting begins Monday in the Democratic runoff battle to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa in Texas’ 15th Congressional District.

Analysis: A Place at the Table for Two Texas Republicans Under Fire, by Ross Ramsey – The two statewide officials whose halos have slipped got a couple of the least prominent speaking spots at the Texas GOP convention. They weren’t the stars of this show, but the GOP faithful appear to be giving both the benefit of the doubt.

Texas GOP Approves Platform with Transgender Bathrooms, But Not Secession, by Abby Livingston – Texas Republicans approved their 2016 platform, weighing in on transgender bathroom rules and many other aspects of American life. Party officials, however, averted determined efforts by some delegates to insert a plank in favor of allowing Texas to secede from the United States.

Texas GOP Hears Cruz on "Challenges Ahead," Sessions on Unity, by Patrick Svitek and Abby Livingston – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, sought Saturday to re-energize his most loyal supporters after a tough defeat in the presidential race, urging them not to abandon the conservative movement. U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama urged the delegates to unite and forge ahead.

An Introspective Cruz In No Rush To Back Trump, by Patrick Svitek – Ted Cruz is making clear that he is in no rush to get behind presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, instead vowing to remain involved in the nominating process as it reaches the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Time Running Out for New Ambassador to Mexico, by Julian Aguilar – After a months-long delay, veteran State Department official Roberta Jacobson was finally confirmed as the country's next ambassador to Mexico, and her time could be limited as the Obama administration begins its final months.

The Day Ahead

•   Today marks the first day of early voting for party primary runoff elections. Election day is May 24.  

•   The Senate Committee on Higher Education holds an interim hearing at 9 a.m. in the Capitol extension where they will discuss current funding methods for general academic institutions and community colleges.

•   The House County Affairs Committee holds an interim hearing at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Capitol extension where they will discuss in the morning the Texas Healthcare Transformation and Quality Improvement Program Waiver, counties involvement in Child Protective Services cases and, in an afternoon joint hearing with the House Urban Affairs Committee, programs targeted at reducing the risk of wildfires, floods and other natural hazards.

•   The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee holds an interim hearing at 11 a.m. in the Capitol extension where they will discuss the use of asset forfeiture procedures in the state and make recommendations for improving these systems. 


(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Ken Paxton addresses friendly Texas GOP crowd, doesn’t mention indictments, The Dallas Morning News

Not all Texas GOPers ready to unite behind TrumpHouston Chronicle

Few solutions in wake of Texas school finance ruling, The Associated Press

Ruled 'broken,' Texas foster care system faces long overhaul, The Associated Press

Mexican border towns fear anti-NAFTA talk in U.S. election, San Antonio Express-News

U.S. investigators probing Texas bus crash that killed eight, Reuters

Politics block way of education funding solutions, experts sayHouston Chronicle

Exclusive: Dozens of state workers at several agencies paid ‘leave’ after departing jobs, The Dallas Morning News

Texas could soon open a gold depositoryFort Worth Star-Telegram

Lock of Hair From Thomas Jefferson Auctioned for $6,875, The Associated Press

City reinforces plans to update water systemCorpus Christi Caller-Times

Quote to Note

"Well, I think this does underscore the risk of electing a right-wing radio host to elected statewide office."

— White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who said Texas won't be "blackmailed" by Obama's directive for public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms aligned with their gender identity.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with Mike Morath, Texas Education Commissioner, on May 17 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation Series on the Direction of Health Care: Do We Have Enough Doctors?, on May 19 at the Medical World Americas Conference in Houston

•    A Conversation with state Sens. Kel Seliger and Kirk Watson on higher education funding in Texas, on May 26 at The Austin Club.

•    A Conversation with Ryan Sitton, Texas Railroad Commissioner, on June 3 at The Austin Club

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin

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