Texas GOP Is Suing Houston's Mayor to Hold a Huge Convention in a Coronavirus Outbreak

Republicans want to bring 5,000 to 6,000 delegates together in a Houston convention center next week. A Democratic mayor is trying to stop it.
July 9, 2020, 7:52pm
Delegates clap after the National Anthem at the Republican Party of Texas State Convention at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Thursday, May 12, 2016 in Dallas.

The Texas Republican Party has filed a lawsuit to try to force Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) to let them hold a massive indoor convention next week.

The Texas GOP had been planning to gather 5,000 to 6,000 delegates and activists in the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston next week for a multi-day party convention, after rejecting pleas from Turner to move the convention online. But Turner, citing public health risk, moved to cancel the convention on Wednesday.

Texas has seen a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, and the Houston area has been the hardest-hit in the state. But after the state Republican Party’s executive committee voted by a 2-to-1 margin against moving their convention online earlier this week, Turner sought to force them to do so anyway.

The lawsuit targets Turner as well as the Houston First Corporation, the public-private partnership that owns the convention center and canceled their contract with the GOP on Wednesday.

“Our objective is that the courts will hear and rule in our favor in time to open up the George R. Brown Convention Center Monday morning so that we may safely begin our vital work in the electoral process,” the party said in a Thursday afternoon statement.

The state GOP event would be by far the largest indoor event taking place in the state since the the coronavirus pandemic took off, and was seen as a test run before the Republican National Convention, scheduled in Jacksonville, Fla. next month.

The lawsuit itself describes the Texas GOP convention as “the largest single demonstration of political speech and exercise of the freedom of assembly in the world” — and they’re arguably right, as the convention draws more delegates than even the national convention.

But national Republicans and President Trump himself are starting to bow to the reality that there’s no safe way to hold a massive indoor rally — the RNC has begun to look at outdoor venues for its own main event.