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Texas GOP sues Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner over canceling in-person convention

Texas Republican Convention in Fort Worth in 2014. Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

The Republican Party of Texas is suing Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and others involved with the canceling of the party's in-person convention, which was scheduled to happen next week.

On Wednesday, Houston First Corporation, the operator of the George R. Brown Convention Center, sent a letter to party officials informing them that the event had been canceled. That cancelation happened after Turner announced he was directing the city's legal department to work with Houston First to review the contract for the event.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Harris County, argues that the gathering is protected under both the Texas and U.S. Constitutions and should be allowed to continue as planned.

"Mayor Turner may not treat the [Republican Party of Texas] convention differently from that of the recent public protests that the Mayor supported," the petition reads. "Political viewpoint cannot be the basis for unequal treatment."

The party's biennial convention was expected to draw roughly 6,000 people to a city that is a hotspot for the coronavirus. Republican leaders had planned to deliver their speeches via video, which the party's executive director said would enable them to "get everybody in and out of here as quickly and as safely as possible."

A spokesperson for Turner told the Houston Chronicle that the mayor would address the lawsuit at a previously-scheduled 3 p.m. news conference.