After Democrat Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner moved to cancel the upcoming Republican Party of Texas convention, citing public health concerns over the coronavirus, the party is fighting back, filing a lawsuit claiming a breach of contract over the cancellation and attempting to force the city into honoring its agreement.
The lawsuit was filed against Turner, the City of Houston, and Houston First—the local government corporation that operates the George R. Brown Convention Center, where the event was to be held next week.
On Wednesday afternoon, however, the contract was canceled at Turner’s insistence, with Houston First claiming that an uptick in coronavirus cases was an act of God that allowed the city to cancel the convention under the contract’s Force Majeure clause.
The Texas GOP, however, disagrees.
“Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s use of the Force Majeure clause is just a pretext to his intent to treat the Republican Party of Texas differently than other groups, such as those we have seen from recent protests in the city of Houston,” said RPT Chairman James Dickey. “It should go without saying that a political viewpoint cannot be the basis for unequal treatment. Mayor Turner publicly stated his intention to interrupt the convention process and disenfranchise Republicans around the state, and yesterday he put his scheme into action.”
“Mayor Turner canceled the convention because he wanted to, not due to any ‘act of God’ – only due to his desire to do so and to hold the Republican Party of Texas to a different standard than other entities. Further, Mayor Turner’s mandate far exceeded the requirements in the Governor’s Executive Order.”
Dickey added that the party’s objective is to get the courts to rule in their favor ahead of Monday morning, when committees are scheduled to begin meeting.
The RPT convention is one of the world’s largest political events, with thousands of delegates expected to attend.
On Wednesday evening, ahead of the lawsuit, Dickey stated that the convention would continue “unimpeded,” using online technology if necessary.