Texas GOP to proceed with in-person convention as Houston mayor asks for virtual event

The chairman of the Republican Party of Texas says an in-person convention in Houston will proceed as planned next week, despite pleas from the City’s mayor and public health authority to hold a virtual event instead.

The event is scheduled to be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston from July 13-18.

On Monday, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Public Health Authority Dr. David Persee sent a letter to State Chairman James Dickey, State Vice-Chairman Alma Jackson and Executive Director Kyle Whatley.

In the letter, Mayor Turner and Dr. Persee cite increasing COVID-19 cases and a record-increase in hospitalizations, and they ask the Republican Party of Texas to reconsider holding the in-person event.

“A virtual convention would protect the health and perhaps the very lives of those who intend on attending an in-person event, as well as the hundreds of workers needed to support such an event,” the letter reads.

The letter also included requirements for events and gatherings prepared by the Houston Health Department, should the in-person convention continue.

“Even if all of the safeguards are followed, there will still be avoidable risk to the attendees, presenters, and support staff. The best way to minimize risk is to hold a virtual convention,” the letter states.

In a statement on Monday, Chairman Dickey said they have proactively implemented safety measures and the Republican Party of Texas intends to proceed with an in-person convention.

Chairman Dickey’s statement reads:

“The Republican Party of Texas has been in extensive conversations with Houston First- the managers of the George R. Brown Convention Center. We have been proactive in implementing safety measures such as thermal scans upon entry each day for each attendee, limited entryways, expanded floor plans to accommodate social distancing, hand sanitizer stations throughout, and available masks for all attendees. With these precautions currently in place, the Republican Party of Texas intends to proceed with an in-person Convention next week in Houston. 

“In addition to nominating the individuals who will represent the party in the electoral college, a state convention of a political party is a fundamental exercise of the freedom to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress. That need to assemble is important, and we are taking every precaution to ensure it is done safely.

“Mayor Turner must not have had the information about the measures being voluntarily implemented. 

“The Republican Party, delegates, and guests are looking forward to a safe and productive Convention next week.”

Last week, the State Republican Executive Committee voted to decide if the in-person event should proceed. They voted 40-20 in favor of moving forward with the event.

MORE: Texas GOP votes to continue forward with in-person convention in Houston this month