HOUSTON – Governor Greg Abbott put to rest the speculation that he would not be making an in-person appearance at the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) biennial convention.
The governor delivered a speech outside the convention in Houston at an event titled the “2022 Convention Welcome Reception.” However, the Welcome Reception was sponsored by his campaign, not the RPT.
Gov. Abbott was preceded in speaking by former RPT Chair Steve Munisteri, Border Patrol Union Chief Brandon Judd, and his wife, Cecilia.
Upon his introduction, the governor hit his challenger in November’s general election, Beto O’Rourke, on various issues, including border security, energy policy, economic growth, police funding, critical race theory, and lying, plugging his new website betolies.com.
“You know Beto is going to do everything he can to try to win the governorship, including telling lies across the state of Texas,” said Abbott.
Gov. Abbott also affirmed that the state would not tolerate the Uvalde school shooting, pointing to the various directives he has issued to improve school safety before the new school year. He also gave a strong endorsement in favor of school choice, saying the time has come for parents to be able to send their children to the school of their choice in Texas.
The governor’s speech came after much speculation about him possibly not appearing at the convention.
Abbott distanced himself from the state party in 2020 when Allen West, a vocal critic of the governor, was chosen as the state party chair. Though West is no longer the party chair, Abbott did not join other RPT leaders to speak as part of the convention.
Traditionally, the RPT Convention is financially sponsored in part by the party leaders who speak at the event. Many party officials, including; Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Comptroller Glenn Hegar, land commissioner nominee Dawn Buckingham, Attorney General Ken Paxton, U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, Railroad Commissioners Wayne Christian and Christi Craddick, and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, were all announced as official sponsors well before Abbott. Several other Congress and state legislature members were also sponsors.
Abbott was not announced as an official convention sponsor until less than two weeks before the start date.
“The Republican Party of Texas is proud to announce [Gov. Abbott] as a major sponsor to the 2022 Texas GOP Convention!” the party’s official Twitter account posted on June 3.
The governor’s hesitation in sponsoring the event and not addressing the party’s grassroots at an official RPT convention event seemed odd to some.
“I don’t understand why it would take so long for the governor of Texas, that’s Republican, to take so long to support it. I don’t understand it, I don’t know I haven’t asked him, I haven’t asked his team, but it seems odd to me,” said State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City).