Originally Posted: May 2, 2018
“The NRA has weathered the storm after the (Parkland) shooting, and I think they’re looking for this convention in Dallas, not to lick their wounds, but to get their war hoop back up about the Second Amendment,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Dallas’ Southern Methodist University.
AUSTIN — Derek Robledo can’t wait until the National Rifle Association’s annual convention opens in Dallas on Friday.
He won’t be inside listening to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and most all of the state’s Republican officials cheering the Second Amendment.
Instead, the 20-year-old University of Texas student will be outside railing against the NRA’s outsized political influence that be blames for the continued mass-shooting violence in schools.
“This convention is a huge gift to Democrats, because it represents the need for significant change in our political process — and why the blue wave is coming to Texas this year,” he said. “Having all these Republicans on stage at the NRA convention for photo ops will motivate Democrats to turn out this fall like never before.”
On May 22, Texas voters will get the chance to vote in the primary runoffs to determine who goes on to the general election.
While Robledo, a self-professed “Latino activist” who has been working for months to increase turnout among young millennial voters to break the GOP domination of Texas politics, political consultants from both parties say the value of any gift from the weekend may be short-lived.
“The guest list at the convention just shows the political power the NRA continues to exert in the United States and in Texas,” said Mark Jones, a political scientist at Houston’s Rice University who has been following the so-called “gun politics” in the Lone Star State for years.
“(President) Trump and (Vice President) Pence with Abbott and (U.S. Sens. Ted) Cruz and (John) Cornyn won’t hurt them in Texas. If it was in the Northeast, those two would be like a 50-pound weight around the necks of state Republicans. They’d go straight to the bottom and drown.
“But this is Texas,” he added.
Thousands of protesters and gun-control activists are expected outside the Dallas convention hall where where the NRA convention opens Friday, an austere downtown landmark named for former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the Republican who preceded Cruz.
In some ways, both Democratic activists and Republican insiders insist the protests will help their causes. Democrats hope that large crowds outside will bolster the optic that large numbers of Texans are fed up with Republican rule. And Republicans believe it will boost GOP turnout and help stave off a political invasion by liberals. READ MORE