Houston, Texas Mayor Sylvester Turner has cancelled the Texas GOP convention, citing coronavirus concerns.
“The public health concerns outweighed anything else," he said in his announcement.
Turner suggested it was a partly personal decision, after his sister and a staff member pointed out that his late mother worked as a maid. That, he said, made him consider how the event would put her in danger if she had been one of the maids working during the convention.
"And if your mom was alive today, working at one of these hotels, would you as the mayor still allow this convention to go forward and run the risk of infecting your mom?" Turner said he was asked. "And the answer was no. So you don't have to be my mom. But I am the mayor of every single person in this city."
SOUND UP: Mayor @SylvesterTurner with an impassioned, emotional explanation about why he made the decision to cancel the @TexasGOP convention in #Houston.— Marcelino Benito (@MarcelinoKHOU) July 8, 2020
"No, this convention is not moving forward & it's b/c of the public health risk that it poses." #khou11 pic.twitter.com/c508SlNg4D
But Texas Republicans sense bias in Turner's decision, considering that he had no problem with the string of recent protests in the city. They are challenging his decision in a new lawsuit.
"Mayor Turner may not treat the [Republican Party of Texas] convention differently from that of the recent public protests that the Mayor supported," their lawsuit reads. "Political viewpoint cannot be the basis for unequal treatment."
The party accused the mayor and the Houston First Corporation of looking for any excuse to cancel their convention.
"The RPT is a week away from holding its quadrennial state convention, the largest single demonstration of political speech and exercise of the freedom of assembly in the world. Mayor Turner stated publicly that he had tasked his legal team to find an excuse to cancel the convention, and then HFC’s President Bazan sent notice of cancellation based on force majeure. Turner ignored the stringent safety measures put in place by the RPT while allowing other public events that were conducted unsafely. Mayor Turner’s crocodile tears reek of ideological viewpoint discrimination."
The GOP is asking the court to force the officials to hold the convention, because it's their right "protected by the Texas and U.S. Constitutions."
The Republican National Committee (RNC) also had its schedule upended recently after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) decided to nix the large-scale convention in Charlotte. The RNC decided to hold their actual party in Jacksonville, Florida instead. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel wasn't surprised by the governor's decision because she figured all along that he was going to "hoodwink" them.
"He made a decision politically to not help us...shame on him," she said.