FORT WORTH — Just how divided the Texas Republican Party is heading into a July 31 runoff between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz was audibly apparent Thursday when Gov. Rick Perry addressed the state convention delegates.
Delegates at the opening session mostly loved Perry's speech until he mentioned his endorsement of Dewhurst for Senate in the primary runoff.
"And we need more conservative Texans in Washington D.C., including my friend David Dewhurst," Perry said.
Delegates backing Dewhurst opponent Ted Cruz erupted in their disapproval with boos.
Although later Perry disputed that when asked by WFAA.
" Boo? I thought they were saying Dew," replied Perry when asked about the booing.
But Cruz supporter Maggie Wright, of Burleson, said she knows what she and others yelled.
"I heard boo, Cruuuz," she said. "And it was very obvious it was boo, it was not Dew."
Dewhurst supporters Mary and Bruce Collins, of Corpus Christi, didn't like the reaction.
"Awful," Mrs. Collins said. "Terrible. Dewhurst is the most qualified person."
The reaction to Perry's endorsement is audible proof of the split among Republicans.
Texas GOP political consultant Matt Mackowiak, who backs Cruz, said the vocal reaction surprised even him.
"I think there was more opposition than I expected," he said. "It was louder, it was more public and those are the kinds of people who are going to vote in a primary runoff in late July."
"There's always people that may disagree," Dewhurst later said.
He may get to hear them personally when he speaks at the convention Friday morning.