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Receptions & Fun In Dallas Before State Democratic Convention

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Texas Democrats are pouring into Dallas in anticipation of this weekend’s state party convention.

The quiet of the halls of Dallas’ Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Thursday belies the noise that will soon be generated.

“There’ll be an awful lot of speeches, a lot of jumping up and down,” said UTA Professor Allan Saxe, who believes much of what goes on is all about star power and getting the Democratic party’s message out.

Some of that star power will come from two women at the top of the ticket — Wendy Davis, a candidate for Texas governor and Leticia Van de Putte, who is running for Lieutenant Governor.

Is gender enough to break the stranglehold that Republicans have enjoyed statewide since Anne Richards was governor 20 years ago? Maybe, says UTA professor Saxe. “It could make a difference but the polls show that women today are not all that energized by the fact that Wendy Davis is a woman.”

Davis blazed her way to national recognition with a filibuster against abortion legislation in the Texas Senate. But Saxe believes she’s allowed that to morph into a broader arena. “So abortion rights have now sort of evolved into a broader topic of women’s rights and women’s issues.”

But the message and distinguishing it from Republicans’ is the bigger challenge, according to Saxe. “I don’t foresee anything controversial,” he said, adding, “There’s going to be statements about immigration, the economy, jobs, those kinds of things are very natural and both political parties address those issues.”

All this may be very interesting to the person who follows politics, but what about the average man or woman on the street — what do they think?

“I had no idea, honestly. I have to run I’m trying to go to an event,” said one woman as she rushed past the CBS 11 News camera.

Business owner Joe Groves said, “I don’t think a lot of people have noticed that the Democrats are here at all.”

“It’s very sad that most people aren’t in the process,” echoed Reed Davis, who is no relation to Wendy Davis — in fact he’s a Republican precinct chair and was a delegate to their recent convention in Fort Worth. He believes it will take a really special person to really spark voter interest. “It’s going to take, maybe a political figure or somebody who’s in the arena that can actually ignite the fire inside an individual…but it’s going to take different things for different people.”

But as the owner of a downtown cafe, Groves said he is just glad Democrats are here — period. “It’s great! Ten-thousand people going to walk around downtown? Great to have them!”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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