After a Democrat mayor banned them from moving forward with their planned convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston and legal attempts to undo the decision failed, the Texas GOP is moving towards having a virtual convention with only days before the event is scheduled to take place.
In a vote of 53-4, the Texas GOP’s executive committee voted to conduct the 2020 Texas GOP convention virtually following the party’s losses in state and district court—an event many fought against throughout the process but ultimately relented on at the end, in order to preserve the state’s delegation to the electoral college and Republican National Convention.
Prior to the vote, Houston-area activist Tanya Robertson, who had long fought for an in-person convention from her position on the SREC, said the decision ultimately came down to the party’s ability to certify electoral college electors and national delegates in advance of the deadline.
“There’s nothing that I want more than an in-person convention, but the election of our electors is at stake,” said Robertson on Facebook. “Unfortunately, with the late date and deadlines imposed by the RNC, [a virtual convention] is inevitable. I would have preferred that we had a remote convention contingency plan ready to go, but that isn’t what the working group recommended, and all other alternatives were not considered or voted down.”
One activist, Gaylyn DeVine, replied to the Facebook thread, saying she was disappointed in the decision and the state’s elected Republican leaders.
“I am so disappointed in this whole process. This was to be my first state convention. I am a delegate. And I totally feel let down!
“Where are all the politicians we work thousands of hours to elect in Texas? I may never work in another campaign. And I definitely will never Vote for Abbott, Patrick or Paxton! This is so heartbreaking. I have better things to do than to check my email all day to see if a convention I paid for is happening or not.
“Sure, it is without a doubt [Turner’s] doing. But as Republicans we are smarter than this and should have made plans B, C and D when we had to reschedule it.”
The decision to host the convention virtually comes in the wake of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s decision to prevent Republicans from meeting in Houston, as well as a failure of the SREC to agree on an in-person alternative.
While activists promoted ideas to host the event in neighboring Montgomery and Galveston counties—both of which had space that could ostensibly host an event the size of the Texas GOP convention, and both of which are governed by Republican officials—party staff claimed to have investigated those options and found them lacking, an assessment disputed by local activists who claimed those investigations weren’t done in earnest.
Temporary committees for the convention have already begun work on an update to the party’s platform, rules, and legislative priorities.
Texas Scorecard will report on further developments as they come to light.