It’s being called the most popular state political convention in the U.S. Republican delegates from all over Texas will gather in San Antonio on Thursday for the state's Republican Party convention.
Republican Party officials are expecting an estimated 9,000 people to attend the events at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.
James Dickey, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, said this convention is unique.
“Because this year San Antonio is celebrating its 300 anniversary of its founding as a city, and we are also celebrating the 150 anniversary of the founding of the Republican Party of Texas,” Dickey said.
During the convention, which happens every two years in Texas, Republican delegates will fiercely debate whether hundreds of Republican ideals — 260 total — should be a part of the party’s overall platform.
The platform will serve as an overall guide for voters on what it means to be a Texas Republican.
Some of those ideals range from whether there should be ban on transgender bathrooms, to support for legislation that would allow gun owners to carry a handgun without a permit.
But before delegates can begin digging into those issues, they must choose a chairman for the party.
Dickey has served in that role for the past two years, but this year faces a challenger, Cindy Asche.
Mark Jones, political science professor at Rice University, said the race for who will lead the party highlights the ideological divide within the party.
“They are straddling that divide in that Dickey is getting more conservative support and Asche seems to be getting some establishment. Certainly the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus are coming down very firmly behind James Dickey, and President Trump has signaled his support as well,” Jones said.
Jones said much of the divide between Dickey and Asche comes down to a party rule that passed during the 2016 state convention.
Rule 44 allows the party to censure any Republican elected official that fails to adhere to all of the planks and ideals included in the party’s platform, like ongoing efforts to censure House Speaker Joe Straus for opposing a transgender bathroom ban during the 2017 legislative session.
Dickey firmly supports the rule.
“In 2016, Rule 44 was passed that did provide for a very specific kind of censure that had some consequences to it, and that rule was triggered in the last two years,” Dickey said.
Meanwhile, Asche said no Texas Republican delegate or party nominee agrees 100 percent with every aspect of the state party’s platform.
“I think that it is important that Texas Republicans choose a chairman based on their personal values and what they stand for as opposed to just being able to say, ‘I support the platform, whatever that is,’ ” Asche said.
The convention runs through this Saturday.