Updated July 10, 2020:
A judge in Houston has denied the party’s request to reinstate the convention. The party is now heading directly to the Texas Supreme Court. The convention was slated to begin Thursday.
The Republican Party of Texas is suing Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston First Corporation over cancellation of the party’s in-person state convention at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center.
“Turner ignored the stringent safety measures put in place by the RPT while allowing other public events that were conducted unsafely,” the filing reads. “Mayor Turner’s crocodile tears reek of ideological viewpoint discrimination.”
The RPT wants the city forced to hold the convention. The lawsuit seeks $1 million in damages if the event remains cancelled.
RPT was actually the second to sue following Turner’s decision. Guess who was first? It was Steve Hotze, who has become a prolific litigant since the pandemic began.
The ultraconservative kingmaker’s lawsuit claims that cancellation of the event violates the state convention’s right to freedom of expression and freedom of association.
“If we tolerate unconstitutional government orders during an emergency, whether out of expediency or fear, we abandon the Constitution at the moment we need it most,” the lawsuit reads.
Houston First relied on a force majeure clause in the contract that allows for cancellation due to unforeseen circumstances such as the pandemic.
Gov. Greg Abbott hasn’t commented on cancellation of the convention, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called it nothing but a “political hack job by Mayor Turner.”
“We’ll have our convention either in person somewhere else or online, but we’ll get the job done that the constitution requires,” he told Fox News.
Patrick had previously said he didn’t think an in-person convention was a good idea.
U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston) offered an opposing view to Patrick, saying he thought Turner made a prudent move.
“I’m glad Mayor Turner finally stepped in to make this call, which also means the TX GOP will not be on the hook for half a million dollars for cancelling the event — as they would have been if asked to cancel it themselves,” Crenshaw said in a tweet Wednesday.
Texas GOP Chair James Dickey has also threatened to sue over the cancellation.