Activist Delegates Challenge GOP Status Quo | KERA News

Activist Delegates Challenge GOP Status Quo

Jun 8, 2012

Republican activism may have reached a new level Thursday when delegates at the state GOP convention in Fort Worth booed Governor Rick Perry. 

The boos came as he told convention delegates he supports Lt. Governor David Dewhurst for the U.S. Senate.

"We need more conservative Texans in Washington D.C. including my friend David Dewhurst," Perry said. 

Then the booing started.

"Texas works."

The activists booed again.

Tea Party supporters of Dewhurst runoff opponent Ted Cruz have packed the GOP convention.

It’s not just that they oppose Dewhurst. They seem to oppose the way their top Republican leaders in Austin are doing business.

Some are passing out stickers that say "Oust Straus." Joe Straus is the Republican Speaker of the House. 

"Joe Straus has probably done more to hamper the conservative movement in Texas primarily due to his appointments of committee chairmen," said one Straus opponent.

The complaint appears to be that Straus is too bipartisan. He’s appointed Democrats to some powerful committees. But the critics aren’t always sure how that’s affected legislation.

"I can’t give you an example off the top of my head but there were several things," the opponent said.

The head of the Tea Party’s legislative advisory committee JoAnn Fleming is taking aim at Governor Perry and his Texas Enterprise Fund.

" I absolutely am talking about the Governor’s fund. I am," Fleming said.

Money from the fund provides financial incentives for companies to relocate to Texas and hire.

"I will tell you there will be a movement this session to try to eliminate that fund as well as the special events fund because we’re tired of state government dabbling in things like Formula One race tracks. They need to focus on solving the issue of funding public education," Flemind said.

One of the big flash points is immigration. Tea Partier Bob Hall of Canton wants lawmakers to get rid of a state policy that allows the children of illegal immigrants who graduate from Texas High Schools to pay in-state college tuition.

"If they are here legally they need to become legal. I do not think the taxpayers of Texas should be underwriting illegal activity," Hall said.

It’s hard to gauge the influence of these anti-status quo Republicans. But as the debate over the Republican platform kicks into gear the party rank and file won’t be able to ignore them.

Friday morning U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn as well as Lt. Governor David Dewhurst address the delegates.