SAN ANTONIO – Republicans from across Texas gathered Thursday at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center for the kickoff of the Texas Republican Convention.
It's a voting year in Texas and the Republican Party knows it's nothing to take for granted.
There was a sense of optimism at the convention center as an estimated 6,000 people filled seats, listened to speeches, checked out political booths and prepared for political conversation.
KSAT 12 News reporter Max Massey spoke with delegates about the future of the GOP and what attendees hope to walk away with from the convention.
What is the goal of this convention for the delegates?
"I would like to see some cohesiveness, so we could be productive on what we agree rather than what we disagree and make progress," delegate Lawren Hall said.
But in a voting year in Texas, other delegates and attendees want a more clear platform.
"What we want our legislative officials to do, what we are going to fight for, what our principles are going to be, and they're going to establish the rules we are going to operate under," Jay Dickey said.
This is Dickey's fifth convention, and part of his reason for attending is to help re-elect his dad as convention chairman.
The event is very personal for others, as well.
"I want the conservative movement to grow, I want limited government of our party to grow and I want to be part of that, said Robert Kecseg, of Wood County.
Why is this convention important to the GOP party and Texas?
Simply put, delegates said they want unity among the party.
"I would like Texas to be able to present a sensible and important message and to be able to spread that message, so (we) can accomplish that message to be productive for all citizens," Hall said.
What does the number of people filling the halls tell you about the future of the conservative party?
"Texas still is a conservative state that focuses on self-reliance and hard work, and the people who come to this convention embrace that philosophy," Hall said.
Kecseg said the large crowd is a testament to Texas voters looking at the right side of the aisle.
"A lot of people care, a lot of people are engaged, and you'll find that a lot of these people spend a lot of their time doing their vetting on candidates, doing their own research on the issues, things that really concern them," he said.
Kecseg said people from all walks of life are more than welcome to come, listen and learn.
"Everybody is welcome. You don't have to have a certain checklist, but to hear the debate and enter the debate," he said.
The convention runs through Saturday.