Texas GOP votes to hold online state convention after court defeat

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This story has been updated throughout. The video in this article was broadcast before the vote to official move the convention online.

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Republican Party of Texas will move its state convention online, after an ongoing legal battle over the cancellation of its in-person convention in Houston.

On Monday night, the State Republican Executive Committee voted 53-4 to switch the convention to online.

“We look forward to continuing our important work this week in an online convention, including adopting our Platform, electing our Party officers, electing our National Delegates and Alternates and the pinnacle moment of electing the Presidential Electors who will proudly cast Texas’ 38 electoral votes for President Donald J. Trump!” party chairman James Dickey said in a Monday night statement.

“We thank our incredible team of attorneys for their valiant work exhausting all legal remedies fighting the partisan Democrat shutdown of our in-person Convention over the last several days,” Dickey said.

The Texas Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the Republican Party of Texas which tried to force Houston to honor its contract for an in-person convention. The court also denied a petition from Republican leaders in Harris County asking for the same.

The all-Republican court ruled 7-1 that the party’s claim of constitutional rights to hold a convention is “unquestionably true,” but those rights “do not allow it to simply commandeer use of the Center.”

Justice Jeff Boyd did not participate in the decision. Justice John Devine delivered a dissenting opinion.

A state district judge in Harris County denied a temporary injunction Monday afternoon.

Last week, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner cancelled the in-person convention over mounting public health concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone is having to change course and pivot,” Turner said in a Monday press conference. “That’s just the mode that we’re in.”

Texas GOP officials had asked the court to allow for the meeting to go on as planned from July 16-18, in-person at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, which is operated by Houston First.

“…the duty the Party seeks to compel Houston First to perform is imposed by contract, not imposed by law,” the court said.

Dickey said after the court’s ruling Monday he believed Turner played politics.

“We believe that Mayor Turner used his control of city-owned property to disenfranchise Republicans and attempt to deny them the opportunity to cast their votes for national delegates and electors in-person in Houston,” Dickey said in a statement.

Dickey said “regardless” of the Texas Supreme Court and Harris County District Court rulings, “we will have our Convention on time as scheduled.” Temporary Committee meetings started in-person on Monday, at a different Houston location after the State Republican Executive Committee voted not to allow the party’s temporary meetings to be held online.

Dickey said close to 5,000 people registered to attend the convention.

“There will be a call for a meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee to finalize our path forward when we have rulings on both of our cases,” Dickey said. “In spite of the obvious politically-motivated efforts of the Mayor to disrupt our convention, we will duly elect our national delegates and the Presidential Electors for our President Donald J. Trump on time as planned.”

Dickey said over the weekend the party was working on a contingency plan to conduct the convention virtually. He also said the party removed “some of our beloved pageantry,” which included planned in-person speeches from elected officials and “fun interludes,” in order to focus on “critical business,” such as choosing the electors. Some elected officials have opted for virtual speeches, Dickey said Saturday.

Asked on Monday what the nation’s republicans could learn from the Texas GOP convention situation, as they plan for the Republican National Convention, which will take place in late August, Dickey said to be wary of democrats.

“The lesson every voter needs to take away from this and needs to remember very well in November, is that democrat elected officials, whether it be city council and Mayor or governor will absolutely take every opportunity they have to infringe on the rights of their political opponents and to suppress the ability of their citizens to earn a living or try to restart the economy or anything positive,” Dickey said. “Every voter needs to remember the democrat tyranny that has been revealed as their preferred stance on everything.”

Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa released a statement Monday afternoon.

“The Texas Democratic Party applauds Mayor Turner for standing firm and ensuring that common-sense and advice from science and medical professionals take precedence over the whims of a declining party that lacks technical competence,” Hinojosa stated. “Texas Republicans are finally forced to do what they should have made the decision to do months ago.”

“It’s abhorrent they were willing to risk Texas lives to hold this convention in-person until a Democratic mayor and court order stepped in and saved them from themselves,” Hinojosa said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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