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Houston Mayor Directs City To Explore Legal Options For Canceling In-Person GOP Convention

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday directed city staff to find a legal way to cancel the Republican Party of Texas' in-person convention in the city next week.
Pu Ying Huang for The Texas Tribune
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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday directed city staff to find a legal way to cancel the Republican Party of Texas' in-person convention in the city next week.

As the Republican Party of Texas moves forward with plans for an in-person convention next week, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Wednesday he has directed his administration to explore ways to cancel the event.

The gathering, set to happen July 16-18, is expected to draw roughly 6,000 attendees to the George R. Brown Convention Center as Harris County continues to be the state's biggest hot spot for the new coronavirus. Party leaders announced Tuesday that elected officials are moving their in-person speeches to videos that will be played for attendees at the convention.

Turner said during a virtual City Council meeting that he has asked the city's legal department to work with the Houston First Corporation, which operates the convention center to review the contract with the state party.

"Where there are provisions that would allow us to cancel this convention — we will exercise those provisions," Turner said. "And the plan is to exercise those provisions to cancel this agreement, this contract, today — to not go forward with this convention."

Republican party officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For over a week, the party has faced calls from Turner and others to cancel the in-person event as the number of coronavirus cases continue to surge. Turner has warned that health inspectors would have the authority to shut down the convention if certain guidelines were not followed.

Party officials, rejecting those calls, have reiterated that the convention will still happen after the State Republican Executive Committee voted overwhelmingly last week to proceed with the event. As the convention has neared, the party has tweaked its rules to allow for a contingency plan to hold the gathering online should circumstances require it.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.