First Views from the Convention Floor

Live blogging from the Texas Democratic State Convention floor

7:38pm: The Democrats can't avoid their reputation as tax-and-spend, so Noriega's speech has done a good job of picking three groups that no-one is arguing against spending money on: school kids, school teachers, and service personnel. What may be most interesting is the muttering in the press pit of how good a speech this is, and how far Noriega has come on the stump since the primaries. There may be as many Noriega signs as there are Obama signs being waved, and a spontaneous standing ovation kicked in before he even finished his speech. [See post below for text of speech]

7:30pm: How big a deal is Rick Noriega? Al Green was his warm-up guy. "Everything he just said," Noriega mock-humbly proposed. His speech concentrates on his military record and on Texas' massive investment in personnel in the war (as per expectations) and about holding Cornyn accountable for his rubber-stamping of the war.

7:17pm: If anyone was a posterboy for the new Dems, that would be Rick Noriega. Congressman Al Green is echoing much of a video package boosting the man at Sen. John Cornyn's heels. However, a bit of an accidental faint praise moment: Al could have found something more ringing to say "Rick is a competent person." Plus, selling him as the man to end gender bias in the Senate would seem weird, but in a convention where there are unspoken concerns about Clinton's female supporters walking away from the party, that makes sense.

7:02pm: Kirk Watson in the house! (And, on another local note, Travis County Constable Bruce Elfant has been elected sergeant at arms.)

6:58pm: "By the way. Harris County? You're next!"

6:52pm: Boyd just gave his shout-out to first-time delegates, and asked them to make themselves known. A large proportion of the crowd stood for that. Boyd may have also delivered his key line for the crowd: "It's not about me, it's about we." That's the party unity tone that was expected to be hit already, and that's backed up with the mantra that 2008 is not a new beginning, but an extension of the gains from 2006.

6:50pm: Already there has been the trooping of the colors, and opening comments from a Vietnam-era veteran. The party is hammering on the idea (as expected) that the troops are best served by bringing them home and funding them properly.

6:48pm: Another note from the sidelines as the long intros wind on before business actually starts. There are Obama and Clinton banners, but they are tastefully off to the far wings of the stage (Actually, the Clintons put two banners up to Obama's one, much like the way they spent money on banners at the Travis County convention while Obama's people kept their powder dry). Less tasteful is that banners flank the stage for all the sponsors.

6:32pm: "Welcome, guests, delegates and alternates, as I call together the 2008 Texas Democratic Party state convention, Moving Texas Forward." With these words, part Chair Boyd Richie has just announced the meeting gavelled in.

6:31pm: There's been some good-natured heckling of TDP press maestro Hector Nieto about deadlines, since this rodeo was supposed to start half an hour ago.

6:26pm: T-minus five minutes. "Ladies and gentlemen, our program will begin in five minutes. Please take your seats." Yes, the heavy lifting of the Texas Democratic Party 2008 state convention is imminent. The ballroom (to continue the SXSW feeling, I'm pretty sure this is the room used for the Bat Bar performances) is filling up rapidly with candidate loyalists. That's been an unspoken discomfort all day: the number of Clinton shirts and banners, as if in any way that's still relevant to the nomination process. Will this be a last peaceable hurrah?

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