Houston officials on Wednesday canceled the Texas Republican Party's in-person convention, saying the spread of the coronavirus made it impossible to hold the event as scheduled. Mayor Sylvester Turner said that the city's lawyers exercised provisions in the contract that the Texas GOP signed to rent the downtown convention center for a three-day event to have started July 16, with committee meetings earlier in the week. "The public health concerns outweighed anything else," he said. The fight over whether thousands of Republican supporters will converge on downtown Houston as the city's hospitals are overwhelmed is a snapshot of the broader political tensions that have underscored Texas' handling of the pandemic, the AP reports.
Turner, a Democrat, previously resisted calls to cancel the convention. Gov. Greg Abbott, the state's top Republican, had publicly deferred to state party leaders who last week voted by a 2-to-1 margin to go forward with an in-person event. Last week, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he was through listening to the nation's top infectious disease expert, saying Dr. Anthony Fauci "doesn’t know what he's talking about" over comments that some states reopened too fast. But even Patrick, who is chairman of Trump’s reelection campaign in Texas, expressed misgivings about his party pressing forward with the convention. State GOP chair James Dickey criticized the mayor's decision and said the party is weighing its legal options. (Texas recorded more than 10,000 new coronavirus infections Tuesday.)