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GOP Stars Gather In Fort Worth For Texas Republican Convention

Shelley Kofler

Five stories that have North Texas talking: the state GOP convention will generate headlines; Gun Barrel City is home to two headline-making residents; the Dallas Museum of Art is celebrating National Doughnut Day; and more:

  The Texas GOP is in Fort Worth for its 2014 convention. Expect lots of stars – and rising stars. The convention, which runs through Saturday, should attract 11,000 Republicans. There will be speeches – lots of speeches. Speakers include Greg Abbott, the Texas gubernatorial nominee; Gov. Rick Perry; George P. Bush, the Texas Land Commissioner nominee; and U.S. Senators Rand Paul and John Cornyn. There will also be a presidential straw poll. There will be some controversy: Gay Republicans say they’ll fight to eliminate demeaning language about “homosexuality” from the state GOP platform. The Texas GOP is blocking gay Republican groups from opening booths in the exhibit hall. Meanwhile, armed protesters with rifles plan to greet convention-goers – the protesters are looking to legalize open-carry handguns, a matter that’s gained national publicity in recent days. In other convention news, the Texas Republican chairman spoke with KERA and rejected claims that the tea party movement has taken over the state party.

  • The town of Gun Barrel City is in the news for two residents who are generating headlines. Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes live in the small town – they are plaintiffs in a lawsuit that led to a federal judge ruling that Texas' ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. USA Today visited the town for a lengthy profile and says the two have become minor celebrities: At the Huddle House restaurant, “waitresses coo over the couple while delivering biscuits and gravy and Dr. Pepper.” General manager Candace Hunt told the newspaper: "I don't think anybody should judge them. They should let God judge them when the time comes." USA Today says: “Hunt's support is emblematic of changing attitudes in Texas, where an independent poll taken in April showed support for gay marriage had pulled even with opposition.” KERA was the first to report that Phariss and Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general, are on opposite sides of the heated issue of same-sex marriage, but that they were law school classmates and good friends.

  • Did you know some North Texans love to enter drainage pipes and travel underground? WFAA-TV featured these so-called "drainers" and "urban explorers.” Up to 40 “urban archaeologists” take part. “It’s pitch black; no light whatsoever," one adventurer told WFAA. "You can hear the heartbeat in your chest. You can hear the bugs climbing on the walls.” Major North Texas cities don’t have laws outlawing the practice, but they warn folks not to try going underground. It’s dangerous – flash flooding or a water main break can fill these pipes quickly. The adventurers tell the station they find peace underground – and that it’s a way to express themselves artistically.

  • The Dallas Opera has announced it’s getting its largest-ever corporate donation. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports the $2.5 million will go to educational outreach. The gift from Betty and Steve Suellentrop, and Hunt Consolidated, Inc., is “intended to inspire other major gifts in support of opera-based education, family performances and community outreach,” a press release says. Read more on KERA’s Art&Seek. The opera says it provides educational outreach to 19 North Texas school districts, homeschoolers and other providers through “on-site performances; Metropolitan Opera high-definition broadcasts, school visits and master classes with internationally renowned composers, singers and designers.”

  • National Doughnut Day is Friday and the Dallas Museum of Art is celebrating with an artwork-inspired doughnut. The museum says in a press release: “We have doughnuts on the mind at the DMA. … We teamed up with Hypnotic Doughnuts to create a tasty masterpiece inspired by the Georgia O’Keeffe painting, Grey Blue & Black – Pink Circle, in the DMA collection.” KERA’s Jerome Weeks has more on Art&Seek: DMA and Hypnotic officials “toured the DMA’s galleries and selected the O’Keefe for its circular design and iconic nature. Good choice, although we really can’t say how good a choice it was until we taste it.” But Jerome says the DMA isn’t selling the doughnut and it will be on view at Hypnotic. 
Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.