Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced on Wednesday that his office is desperately looking for legal means to prevent the Texas Republican party's in-person convention next week, amidst a massive spike in coronavirus cases across the state.
"Where there are provisions that would allow us to cancel this convention, we will exercise those provisions," Turner, a Democrat, said during a teleconferenced city council meeting. "The plan is to exercise those provisions to cancel this agreement, this contract, today. To not go forward with this convention."
Some 5,000 people are expected to mass at Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center between July 16-18, with the state's GOP chairman James Dickey framing the decision to push ahead with exposing his fellow Republicans as a fight between America, and a dystopian future.
"New viruses are going to come and life has to continue," Dickey told Vice News on Wednesday. "We can’t live in a world where there’s never again a live, in-person concert or convention or gathering of people to peaceably assemble and address their grievances with the government. That would be anti-American."
"I am proud and pleased to be part of a group trying to make sure that dystopian future never becomes a reality," Dickey added.
In a separate statement shared by the State GOP itself, Dickey threatened legal action should Turner follow through on his pledge prevent the party from holding its convention.
"Our legal team is assessing the ability of the City to act at this time in this manner and weighing our legal options," Dickey wrote. "We are prepared to take all necessary steps to proceed in the peaceable exercise of our constitutionally protected rights."
Despite Dickey's insistence on holding the convention in person next week, members of Texas' elected Republican leadership, including Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, will reportedly be delivering their scheduled addresses to attendees virtually, rather than in person.
"All the elected officials are switching from a live, in-person speech to videos,” Texas Republican Party Executive Director Kyle Whatley explained on Tuesday. “They’re doing that for us in order to focus all the attention on the business of the meeting and to get everybody in and out of here as quickly and as safely as possible."
Houston Health Department's health authority Dr. David Persse has reportedly pushed for the convention's cancellation, writing in a letter to Turner obtained by CNN that the event presents a "clear and present danger to the health and well-being of convention attendees, workers, local hotel and restaurant owners and Houstonians because of the surging pandemic."
On Tuesday, Texas broke it's single-day record for recorded coronavirus cases with 10,028 new confirmed infections. The previous record was 8,260 on July 4.