Texas Federation of Republican Women held the 27th Biennial convention in Galveston last weekend. More than 700 women came together at the Galveston Island Convention Center. The weather was sunny and pleasant and only added to the experience.
An election cycle is approaching and every recognizable name in Texas politics, whether on the local, state or federal level, had a presence.
The opening session brought speeches by Debra Medina and current Texas Governor Rick Perry, both now running for the Republican nomination in the primary. State Senator Dan Patrick spoke and volunteered to travel to any spot in the state, at his own expense, to speak to Republican Women's clubs. Dr. Robin Armstrong, Vice Chair of the Republican Party of Texas, spoke about the issues in Congress now. As a black physician with a young family and a busy career, he had a perspective to offer on health care reform and the effects it will have on families in Texas, if the current House bill passes into law.
Friday evening, a reception was hosted by Lt Gov David Dewhurst. Also speaking again was Gov Rick Perry. State Sen Dan Patrick was working the crowd, as were candidates for judgeships and others.
Saturday's general session was opened with our speaker, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. She broke the news that she will not resign her senate seat until after the March primary. Her thinking is sound on this - she doesn't want to leave her seat to an appointed rookie senator who doesn't know the workings of the body. She has solid seniority on committees and leads the fight against the health care reform and cap and trade legislation. She is upholding her commitment to Texans in Washington and she is doing her job. A really nice touch was after her speech, upon exiting the room, she returned and stood in a receiving line to shake hands will all of the Republican club presidents as they were acknowledged. It was an unexpected gesture to those of us in the audience. She graciously stood for pictures and was accessible to everyone.
Lt Gov Dewhurst spoke, as did Susan Combs, Comptroller of Public Accounts of Texas, and Michael Williams, Railroad Commissioner of Texas. State Senator Joan Huffman spoke and so did Dick Weekley, Co-founder and Chairman of Texans for Lawsuit Reform.
The keynote address was given by Attorney General Greg Abbott at the awards luncheon. His twelve year old daughter introduced him.
Saturday afternoon was spent in workshops. I attended "Health Care Reform and What It Means to You", presented by Arlene Wohlgemuth, a Senior Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Center for Health Care Policy. A former state representative, she also spoke about the politics of the reform - actually a power grab that will not truly bring reforms or lower costs.
My second workshop was "Beating the Dems at Their Own Game: Using Education and Social Media", presented by Eric Golub. Golub is a Brooklyn born, Long Island raised Republican Jew living now in Los Angeles. He is the author of "Ideological Bigotry" and was selling his book, too. A career stock broker, received an MBA from USC and he blogs. His presentation is filled with humor, as his philosophy is that it is the best tool to win over an audience. He promotes disagreement without personal attacks.
The award banquet Saturday night brought a speech from State Senator Florence Shapiro, running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate (as is Michael Williams) and the keynote address was by actress and author, Janine Turner.
Sunday's closing session was filled with speakers Senator John Cornyn, U.S. Representatives Michael McCaul and Pete Olson, Texas Rep Larry Taylor, and Ted Cruz, former Solicitor General of Tx and current candidate for Attorney General of Texas. Cruz made a commitment to support the re-election of current Attorney General Greg Abbott should Senator Hutchison not resign from the Senate.
While shopping in the vendor's hall, I purchased a button stating, "I think, therefore I vote Republican." Camaraderie from a range of Republicans from across the state was inspiring. Republican women in Texas are working hard to keep Texas a red state and motivated by the current atmosphere ripe for a new Republican comeback wave.