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A capacity crowd of enthusiastic Republicans filled the Labor Day “Keep Texas Strong” rally hosted by Collin County’s GOP Victory 2018 Committee.

Nearly a thousand people attended Monday’s rally at McKinney’s historic Cotton Mill, making it one of the county’s most successful campaign season kick-off events ever, party sources said.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and hometown favorite Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton headlined the event, firing up the throng.

Collin County families also took the opportunity to talk with dozens of state and local Republican officials and candidates who turned out to meet members of the community.

Area activist groups also participated in the event, including Golden Corridor Republican Women, McKinney Tea Party, and the new grassroots network Collin Strong.

Victory 2018 chairman State Rep. Jeff Leach of Plano opened the rally, telling the cheering crowd, “The days of playing defense are over.”

State Senate candidates Angela Paxton and State Rep. Pat Fallon of Little Elm poked fun at the so-called “blue wave” and predicted a “double-digit crush” by Republican candidates over their Democrat opponents.

The Republicans contrasted their commitment to conservative principles like individual freedom to Democrat policies that aim to control people’s lives. “Here in Texas we are the beacon of freedom,” said State Sen. Van Taylor of Plano, who is running to represent Texas’ 3rd Congressional District.

Even with Collin voters’ red-hot enthusiasm, GOP candidates in the solidly Republican county aren’t taking anything for granted. They’re working to motivate their base and reach out to new voters. Collin is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, adding well over 20,000 new residents a year.

Cruz closed the rally with a call for Collin County voters to help get out the vote. “Speak out for why it matters to be free,” Cruz said. “And VOTE!”

Early voting in the November 6 general election starts October 22. The deadline to register to vote in the election is October 9.