Trump Surrenders on Convention in Florida
after Taking Cue from Houston Dem Mayor
By Mike Hailey Capitol Inside Editor July 23, 2020
President Donald Trump followed the lead of Democratic Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner when he cancelled the GOP's national in-person convention that had moved from Charlotte to Jacksonvile before its shuffling to the Internet on Thursday.
After refusing for five months to recognize the severity of the coronavirus that's killed more than 144,000 constituents, Trump conceded defeat on the in-person confab plan amid the admission that it would be major threat to the public health in Florida and beyond.
But the president proved Governor Greg Abbott and former state GOP leader James Dickey to be prophets when they promised him that the Texas Republican Convention would be a model for the way to stage massive public gatherings during the worst public health crisis in more than a century.
The state party had shifted its biennial gathering from May to July with no plans of calling off the event in the face of a record-breaking second COVID-19 surge that had turned Houston and the rest of Texas into a major national hot spot. The Republicans refused to take the responsibility to shut the event down themselves despite repeated opportunities before Turner was forced to make the call himself as a last resort.
The Texas GOP's model convention was an unprecedented catastrophe after a last-minute shift to Zoom where it collapsed before some of the state party's most important business has been completed. The activists who'd cast votes from virtual chat rooms agreed to resume the debate on a new state party platform, legislative priorities and rules at a second convention at an unknown location at a time that has yet to be determined.
The second half convention will give newly-elected Chairman Allen West the opportunity to demonstrate his creative acumen and leadership at an event that would be the first of its kind in modern Texas history in an election season that's shaping up to be a disaster for the state's ruling Republican Party. West ousted Dickey from the partisan post in a chair's election that had been delayed for two days in the hopeless technical quagmire that the GOP convention turned out to be.
The Republicans here can take some solace in the fact that they backed up the pledge to show the president how to stage a major political convention during a pandemic - online. But Trump owes a more significant debt of gratitude to Turner for showing him how to protect the public with a deference to doctors whose pleas went ignored in the run up to the in-person Houston convention that never materialized.
Trump's retreat on the in-person event in Florida gave Democrats yet another weapon to use against him and down-ballot Republicans this fall.
"We wish them the best at their virtual Republican National Convention." Texas Democratic Party official Brittany Switcher said. "They are going to need it after the unmitigated disaster that was the Texas Republican Convention: Delays, technical glitches, accusations of rigging, and technical incompetence only seen in the caveman era. They weren’t even able to finish their convention. Bless their hearts.”
Texas Major Counties
COVID-19 Cases Per 100,000
Population on May 29 & July 23