“It sure does feel damn good to see a room full of Democrats,” said Convention co-chair State Rep. Jessica González as she welcomed attendees into the General Session last night. The program featured a number of speakers, capping off with the statewide candidates including Beto O’Rourke.
González said that she was proud to be a member of a party “that embraces diversity and inclusion,” two themes that were prominently touted throughout the night. She also spoke about the extremism of the Republican party that is threatening the safety of freedom of Texans.
Her fellow Convention co-chair State Rep. Julie Johnson noted the failures of the modern Texas GOP when it comes to reducing poverty, making health care affordable and accessible, and failing to pass any gun safety legislation. “We deserve better than what the Texas GOP continues to inflict upon us all,” she said.
State Senator Royce West used his speech to warn about the perils facing democracy. He urged attendees to do everything to ensure a change in statewide leadership. “We must move past our differences and unify our party,” he warned.
The specter of GOP extremism loomed large throughout the night. Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus Ron Reynolds said that because of Republicans, it’s easier to buy a gun than to vote in Texas.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee entered the stage holding a sign that said “protect women’s reproductive rights.” She also said that she stood with the 10-year-old girl in Ohio, who was forced to travel to another state for an abortion after she was raped. Jackson Lee then ended her time with a plea to free WNBA player Brittney Griner, who has been jailed in Russia since February.
Entering into a chorus of cheers, gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke said it was the “honor” of his lifetime to lead the statewide ticket. O’Rourke earned loud applause when he mentioned his recent fundraising haul, and recent polls that show a single-digit race.
O’Rourke sharply criticized Abbott for his reaction after the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas when he said, “it could have been worse.” O’Rourke also had choice words for the state of the power grid, and said Texans shouldn’t be forced to live under such “uncertainty.”
O’Rourke ended his speech by pledging to do everything in his power to talk with every Texan. After his time in Dallas, O’Rourke is embarking on a 49-day drive through Texas. “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to do this,” he shouted as he left the stage to thunderous applause.