Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner urges Texas GOP to cancel its convention

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Texas Republican Convention attendees stood for the Pledge of Allegiance in Fort Worth in 2012. Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Monday encouraged the Republican Party of Texas to cancel its in-person convention in Houston next week and warned that should the event continue, health inspectors would have the authority to shut down the gathering if certain guidelines are not followed.

Turner said that he planned to send a letter to members of the State Republican Executive Committee, the state party’s governing board, outlining conditions the party must follow in order to hold the convention.

“I do not think it is wise or prudent to hold a convention of 6,000 or more,” the Houston mayor’s office tweeted. “I am asking them to have a virtual event.”

A spokesperson for the state party did not immediately respond to a request for comment. And a copy of Turner's letter to the SREC was not immediately available.

"Health inspectors will be on-site for the entire convention to ensure all guidelines are being followed," Turner's office tweeted. "If they are not, the inspectors have the authority to shut down the convention."

Last week, the SREC voted 40-20 to proceed with the in-person convention July 16 to 18 at Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center.

Thursday's vote came on the heels of Gov. Greg Abbott issuing a statewide mask mandate in an attempt to curb the surge of coronavirus cases, which state party chair James Dickey said meant that masks would be required for most of the convention, though they were not previously. The SREC met again virtually on Sunday and tweaked the party's rules to allow for what Dickey has described as an "ultimate contingency plan" to host the convention online if circumstances require it.