Fresh off the lopsided win ending Houston’s so-called bathroom ordinance, and Dallas’ city council implementing their own LBGT rules, the Republican Party of Texas is being pressured to move their 2016 convention.
So far, the GOP state chairman, Tom Mechler, has refused to address concerns by claiming that the party’s convention contract cannot be broken.
Mechler did not respond to interview requests. [Update: See below for response from Mechler, received after original publication.]
A request by members of the State Republican Executive Committee to review contractual details between the Republican Party of Texas and the City of Dallas for the convention were denied by RPT staff, according to a recent complaint.
Bonnie Lugo, an SREC member from Houston, penned a letter to the RPT and fellow SREC members expressing concern over what she described as a lack of transparency, and terms related to the contract for use of Dallas’ Convention Center.
Without the ability to review the contract itself, Lugo maintains these concerns cannot be resolved.
“It is my request that all SREC members be given (1) a full accounting of the financials, as it relates to the Dallas Convention, (2) a copy of the contract, (3) dates and amounts of any payments…by the end of business on Monday, November 23rd, 2015,” Lugo wrote in an broadly-disseminated email. “Should the RPT not be transparent, I believe that further action will be necessary.”
Additionally, some GOP party members believe the 2016 RPT Convention should be moved to another city such as Houston, where voters recently repealed a similar law. Area residents and state legislators have also raised concerns about Dallas’ ordinance.
State Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) penned an op-ed citing a lack of “respectful disagreement and civil discourse,” along with “ambiguity in the law” that has potentially harmful implications for families and businesses.
Huffines, who is also circulating a petition opposing Dallas’ law, was also critical of the city’s non-transparent process of rushing the change through the council without seeking public feedback or encouraging a healthy debate.
Texas Eagle Forum President, Cathie Adams, called for a “principled” response from RPT leadership.
“Texas Republicans are weary of political rhetoric. We want our GOP officials to actively lead. The Republican Party of Texas should take a principled stand concerning a recent immoral decision by the Dallas Mayor and City Council Members to allow men in women’s bathrooms.”
Adams also joined Lugo is raising the question as to whether or not Dallas’ recent amendment to their ordinance voids the contract with Dallas to host May’s RPT convention.
Following our publication deadline for this article, a spokesman from the Republican Party of Texas submitted the following written statement from RPT Chairman, Tom Mechler:
It is my opinion that moving the nation’s largest state political convention at this point in time could minimize Texas’ say in the national convention process, thus reducing our say in electing the next president of the United States. However, the decision ultimately rests with the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC). As fiscal conservatives, it would not be in the best interest of the Republican Party of Texas to move the convention as the party would incur nearly $800,000 in penalties – money that would be best used to defeat Democrats. If any member of the SREC has a question about these contracts, they are absolutely welcome to review them. It is important to note that when the Harris County Republican Party Executive Committee was given the opportunity to vote on a resolution supporting moving the convention, it was overwhelmingly rejected. We look forward to working with the Dallas County GOP in order for our convention to have a major impact in 2016. I share the concerns of a vast majority of Republicans who oppose the ordinance which the Dallas City Council voted on, but I am concerned about proposals that will toy with the health and fiscal stability of the Republican Party of Texas.
When I was elected State Chairman, I told the SREC that we would take the fight to the Democrats all across the State of Texas. The Dallas City Council has taken an action which many find offensive, but we need to stand united with the Dallas County GOP in their fight to turn the county Republican. We cannot allow the liberals to push us out of a city that is important to the RPT by passing an ordinance that we oppose. Their recent action should strengthen our resolve to move forward. We will stand by the women in our party to ensure their safety and will do so at the convention. And, we will come to Dallas with a Republican grassroots army that is so large and determined to win, the liberals will rue the day they picked a fight with our party.
EDITOR NOTE: Empower Texans has been a sponsor and exhibitor of the GOP convention for several cycles running, and will be again in 2016 regardless of the location.