DALLAS — At the annual Dallas County Republican Party Reagan Day Dinner, keynote speaker Donald Trump Jr. thanked Texas for its pivotal support in helping raise funds for the election, a move he said ultimately helped his father secure a victory.
“Texas came through for us, and they came through for this country,” Trump said to a crowd of roughly 950 attendees Saturday night at the Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas. “Texas wasn’t just big for this campaign. … Texas gave us the funds that we needed to go over and win all those other states. I was told we raised more money in Texas than we raised in New York and California combined.” Trump was one of many speakers at the annual dinner event, where several prominent members of the Texas Republican Party spoke about their hopes for the state and nation with a changing of the guard in Washington. The event — which has been held for the past 30 years — is the largest fundraiser for the Dallas County Republican Party.
The money raised during the event helps fund Republican races at all levels throughout the county and in statewide elections.
“People are finally excited to see someone who has some resolve,” Trump said of his father’s election. “Someone who will get things done.” Saturday’s event marked Trump’s first political appearance since the November election.
Donald Trump Jr. also gave a nod to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who recently had a dinner with President Donald Trump. During his own remarks, Cruz praised the current president, adding that if Trump continues on his current path “he’ll be re-elected in a landslide.”
“Tonight is a celebration of a victory of the conservative grassroots all across this country who shocked the living daylights out of the establishment in Washington,” Cruz said. “And I have to tell you 51 days in, I stand here very optimistic.”
He said he believed this Congress could be the most productive one in decades. For 2017, Cruz said four of Congress’ top priorities will include the repeal of Obamacare, regulatory reform, tax reform — which he said includes abolishing the IRS and a simple flat tax — and confirming Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia.
“I could not be excited and more eager to lead the fight in the promises we made to the American people,” Cruz said. “The time for talk is done. Now is the time for action.”
Trump Jr. was introduced by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who pledged to pass several key measures this legislative session, including property tax reform and school choice legislation. He also discussed banning “sanctuary” cities, one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency items for this legislative session.
Among others at Saturday’s event were U.S. Reps. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville; Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler; Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas; Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell; and Pete Sessions, R-Dallas. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller was also at the event, along with a slew of state senators, House representatives and district court judges.
Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Phillip Huffines said more than $500,000 was raised ahead of the event.
“We put the word out, and I think Donald Trump Jr. knew that Dallas County needs a little help to push back on the Democrats. We turned blue — so to speak — about 10 years ago, but we’re making tremendous progress in pushing back on the Democrats,” Huffines told the Texas Tribune prior to the event.
Huffines also promised that the Dallas County Republican Party would remain strong in 2018 since Trump has “energized Republicans across the nation.”
In a statement on the Reagan dinner speech Saturday, Manny Garcia, a spokesman for the Texas Democratic Party, also had an eye toward 2018.
“While Republicans waste time on nonsense and policies that hold Texas' diverse new majority back, Texas Democrats are focused on fighting for an economy that works for everyone, strong neighborhood schools, and saving healthcare from chaos,” Garcia said. “In 2018, Texas Democrats will continue earning the trust of Texas families, if we continue to work hard and deliver solutions we will have greatest midterm of our lifetime.”
However, Huffines remained confident Republicans would hold their majority both within the Texas Legislature and nationwide.
“We’re going to elect all of these Republicans because Dallas County is going to register thousands of new voters.” Huffines said. He gave a nod to Cruz and Patrick specifically, who both could face Democratic challengers in 2018. Both U.S. Reps. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, and Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, have expressed interest in Cruz’s seat, and Democrat Mike Collier recently announced he would run for Patrick’s seat in 2018.