The Texas Republican Party has decided to go ahead with their in-person convention in Houston next week at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner wants that convention to be virtual instead in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hosting a convention of 6,000 people in the city of Houston when there are rising numbers is irresponsible, and is not placing the health and safety of Houstonians and Texans first,” said Turner.
He sent a letter to the republican committee, including requirements for holding the event. The list includes spacing, social distancing and wearing a face covering or shield. The mayor said if requirements aren't followed, he is prepared to shut it down.
“I just want people to know in advance, so there won't be any misunderstanding,” added Turner.
Texas Republican Party Chairman Dames Dickey said they are asking everyone to abide by the governor's order regarding masks. The CDC has said that gatherings of this size are high risk, so we asked him if he was confident nobody would get sick and everyone would be safe.
“Of course I can't guarantee no one will get sick, just like I can’t guarantee you won’t be in an accident or worse if you get in your car. But we all make those choices every single day. What you can do is make sure that you are safe. That you drive the speed limit, that you wear a seatbelt, that you are a courteous driver, and a defensive driver and that you’ve had driver training. We are doing all of those same things. We are taking significant precautions,” said Dickey.
He said they have measures including thermal scans every day for every attendee, limited entrances, deep cleaning after every meeting, and donated masks.
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“Picture if you will, if the tables were turned and there was a Republican mayor threatening to disrupt democrat votes being cast,” Dickey added.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released a statement after the executive committee decided to move forward with the convention, “I watched all three hours of the SREC debate on Thursday night. I agree with the 20 people who believe it is not a good idea to hold an in-person state convention in Houston because so many of our party activists will be unable to attend. It also risks the exposure of those who do attend. But I respect the will of the 40 people who voted and I will be there.”
Governor Greg Abbott has not said he is canceling the convention. We asked his office if he was attending, and did not hear back.
It's been reported that one of the sponsors of the convention is Comcast, which owns our parent company, NBC Universal.