Texas GOP’s proposed platform signals party’s continued rightward shift

The new proposed Texas GOP platform has drawn outrage among Democrats and stoked concern from some Republicans, signaling the degree to which Lone Star State conservatives appear to be shifting rightward as the party looks to maintain its hold there in the November midterms. 

On Sunday, the state party adopted a resolution that rejected President Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election, formally embracing former President Trump’s claims of election fraud.

Additionally, the convention’s attendees voted on a platform that criticized homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice.” Meanwhile, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), both of whom were in attendance, were harangued by some conventiongoers.

The weekend’s developments have raised grumblings from national Republicans, who want to keep the focus on hot-button issues such as the economy.

“Nationally, we know that anything that distracts from Biden’s continually dropping approval and rising inflation helps Democrats, who want to talk about anything other than these,” said Republican strategist Doug Heye.

“Looking backward doesn’t help tell voters what you want to do now and in the future,” he added.

Texas GOP communications director James Wesolek told High Plains Pundit that two resolutions, one on the 2020 presidential election and the other on the recently proposed bipartisan gun reform bill, were brought forth by the platform committee and are not officially part of the platform. The two resolutions were passed by a voice vote of the convention delegates. Each delegate at the convention was given a form to vote “yes” or “no” on 275 party planks, which now need to be counted. The results are expected to be calculated later this week.

The convention came shortly after Republicans expressed optimism about their chances of further expanding their gains along the southern portion of the state, which has leaned Democratic until recently. Last week, the party scored a major victory in the state’s 34th congressional district, with Rep.-elect Mayra Flores (R-Texas) flipping what used to be a Democratic-controlled district.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who is running for reelection against Democrat Beto O’Rourke, notably did not speak at the convention. Instead, the governor held a reception at a nearby venue.

But the recent proposals seem to reflect Texas Republicans’ views on the 2020 election. A February survey from the University of Texas at Austin found that 22 percent of Republican respondents in the state said they believed Biden “legitimately won the 2020 presidential election,” while 67 percent said they did not believe he did. Overall, a total of 53 percent of respondents in Texas said they believe Biden won the election legitimately and 36 percent believe he did not win the election legitimately.

“It impacts the overall breakdown of Texans’ views toward the election,” said Jon Taylor, a political science professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “It also tells you just how much of a stranglehold Donald Trump has on the Republican Party in this state.”

Some Texas Republicans brushed off the notion that any attack from Democrats on the resolutions would ultimately end up hurting GOP candidates at the ballot box in November.

“Traditionally what happens at conventions stays at conventions,” said one Texas-based GOP strategist.

“It’s not going to be what a bunch of people with weird hats and sequins did at a party convention in the summer,” the strategist continued, referring to what voters would ultimately vote on.

However, Texas Democrats used the development as an opportunity to hit what the state party called the “stupid, racist, divisive, bigoted, culture wars these Republicans choose to promulgate.”

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa echoed this sentiment in an interview on Monday.

“You have a party that is completely controlled by the right-wing extremists,” Hinojosa said. “In Texas, this has been a consistent theme in their platform.”

“They’re not even mainstream in the extreme part of the Republican Party, they’re as far-right as you can possibly imagine,” he continued.

When asked about the Democratic response to the platform proposals, the Texas GOP strategist predicted the attacks could have a short-term impact.

“It’s a good short-term strategy to get yourself attention and try to shape the news cycle and try to generate some interest and enthusiasm now,” the strategist said.

But the platform proposals could stand to bring some Republican enthusiasm as well.

“What takes place in a Republican Party convention and the platform does have an impact because you’re talking about a populist, pro-Trump base that is going to turn out and be very, very vocal about support or opposition to things as we saw with John Cornyn and Dan Crenshaw,” Taylor said.

Cornyn, who was the top Republican negotiator on the recent gun safety package, received boos from the convention crowd on Friday as he talked about the proposed legislation. Meanwhile, Crenshaw was jeered by a group of protesters at the convention on Saturday. The protesters could be heard yelling “globalist RINO” and “eye patch McCain.”

Crenshaw sailed to victory in his GOP primary in March, while Cornyn easily won reelection in 2020. Cornyn won’t face reelection until 2026, but last week’s convention could provide a preview of what a potential primary challenge could look like. Cornyn’s role in the bipartisan gun negotiations has particularly fired up some of the hardcore GOP base in Texas.

“Unlike what happens at a state convention, this type of negotiation, which some in the party and the base see as a betrayal of their Second Amendment rights, fair or not, that’s a different ballgame,” the Texas-based GOP strategist said.

“The kind of people that do attend the conventions won’t impact how Texans as a whole see issues in November, but those are the very people that are big determining factors in a primary makeup,” the strategist said.

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