On the day Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order requiring masks statewide, the Texas GOP voted to go ahead with its plans for an in-person convention in two weeks.
After a three-hour meeting via videoconference and ample debate on whether to proceed with the in-person convention or opt for a virtual or hybrid alternative, the State Republican Executive Committee voted 40 to 20 in favor of proceeding as planned with the in-person convention slated to begin on July 11 in Houston.
Advocates of staying the course argued that moving to a virtual convention would disenfranchise delegates and restrict their ability to make their voices heard. Houston’s Mark Ramsey and Arlington’s Warren Norred argued that the technology simply isn’t adequate to empower everyone like an in-person meeting.
“I’ve been doing Zoom calls for three months now, and I still have trouble finding some of the buttons,” said Norred.
“We’ve been doing some of our committee work virtually, and I have to tell you, I just don’t think it’s going to work with thousands of people,” argued Ramsey.
One member even said that abandoning plans to host the convention in person would disappoint President Donald Trump and energize the radical left.
“This is a convention that Trump wants,” said Leslie Thomas of Dallas. “Like it or not, Texas is the Republican state. We bear that, so we need to stand our ground.”
Opponents to the measure included Williamson County’s Mike McCloskey, who spoke in favor of moving to a virtual convention. Following the 40-20 vote against doing so, McCloskey posted on Facebook that he was frustrated with the outcome.
“I have listened to and respected the wishes of so many of our folks to present an alternative that would meet the needs of more delegates, but it is apparent there was not the will to hear different ideas,” wrote McCloskey. “I am concerned about serving in the interests of Senate District 5, but once again I am disappointed in the operations of the State Party.”
But though McCloskey was disappointed, many seemed excited to attend the convention. North Texas activist Kelly Canon said on Facebook that the action was in defiance of Abbott’s mask order, and she looks forward to seeing her fellow Republicans in Houston.
“The State Republican Executive Committee members met tonight (on Zoom) and just voted to thumb their collective noses at Gov. Abbott’s latest stupid mask order,” wrote Canon. “Our GOP convention (in 2 weeks) is a Go! Very good job! See y’all in Houston!”
State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) agreed. In a tweet, Stickland said the SREC’s decision went against the governor’s wishes and predicted that, should Abbott attend the convention, he would be met with boos.
More than fair to say the SREC just voted against the will of @GovAbbott to keep the convention going in Houston. I maintain my prediction that unless he gets someone else to shut it down ( @SylvesterTurner ) , Abbott will be booed relentlessly or doesn't show up at all. #txlege
— Jonathan Stickland (@RepStickland) July 3, 2020
The Texas GOP convention is slated to run from July 13 through July 18 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.