It has been a crazy political time recently as the Nov. 3 election nears.
In Texas, there developed a political and legal battle over whether the Republicans can carry through with their in-person state convention, scheduled in Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center for Thursday through Saturday (July 16-18).
Amid concerns about Houston spiking as a very hot spot for spreading COVID-19, the Texas Medical Association, a convention sponsor, said the party should cancel the in-person convention and hold it on-line.
The State Republican Executive Committee met – virtually – to discuss the situation. They voted 40-20 to hold the in-person convention.
The TMA quickly dropped its sponsorship.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner waited to see if the GOP would come to its senses, or Texas Gov. Greg Abbott might cancel it. Neither happened.
Finally, Turner, a Democrat, decided it was too big a risk to endanger so many lives.
Those included the 6,000 GOP attendees from all over the state, plus the inhabitants of the towns to which most of them would probably return – and spread the virus further.
But also at risk were the Houston workers and custodians and others who would have to staff the conventions – and then mingle among their families and friends in Houston.
So Turner got the Houston First Corp., the city non-profit that manages the convention center, to cancel the event.
The Republicans immediately sued Turner, and Houston First. But Harris County state district judge Larry Weiman quickly denied the party’s request for a temporary restraining order to block the cancellation.
The Houston First Corp. contract with the GOP has a clause that says a political convention could be canceled in the event of a pandemic.
State GOP Chairman James Dickey blamed the closing, and the judge’s decision, on a bunch of Houston liberal Democrats.
The GOP quickly appealed to the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court to order Turner and the Houston First Corp. to allow the convention to proceed.
Their petition noted Turner had encouraged people to attend a June 2 “Black Lives Matter” protest in downtown Houston, closed off the downtown area, and spoke at the event.
Asked at a news conference about the difference between that and the GOP convention, Turner noted the differences.
“You don’t need a permit from me, and you can march,” said Turner. “That’s an outdoor event. Go for it.
“But it’s a different thing when you’re talking about an indoor convention, two to three days, where people are in close proximity every single day, most of the day. That is a different deal.”
The Texas Democratic Party called for four of the Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves, since they had also been financial sponsors of the convention.
The Texas Attorney General’s office backed Turner and the Houston First Corps., because the convention was being held under a contract, not a law.
Then, the Supreme Court on Monday also turned down the Republicans, on a 7-1 vote. So the GOP will probably have an online convention.
Rest a little easier, Houston.
# # #
Nationally, Republican President Donald Trump was on the loose again.
In recent days and weeks, he has:
• Said he will issue an executive order to revive and extend DACA – The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program. Trump said he would include a path to citizenship for people known “Dreamers,” who were brought to the US as children.
It had been put in place in an executive order by former President Barack Obama.
Trump has opposed DACA for most of his presidency.
Some observers view Trump’s turnaround as a last-minute try to bolster his sagging standing with Latinos, many of whom he has sought to deport.
• Called for all public school students to return to in-person classes this fall. This is read as an attempt to help further re-open and improve the economy, by allowing parents to go back to work, rather than home-school their children or watch over them while they take on-line classes.
• Ordered White House staffers to perform the equivalent of political opposition research on Dr. Anthony Fauci, acknowledged for decades as probably the most knowledgeable and experienced expert on infectious diseases and epidemics.
Once a member of Trump’s pandemic team, Fauci has continued to speak his seasoned opinion about combatting the virus, even when it differs with Trump’s.
As Fauci’s trust level was polled at triple the President’s – a June poll Trump showed that 67 percent of Americans trusted Fauci on the virus, compared to 26 percent for Trump – the President has sidelined him.
The White House has gathered and recently passed on to the press examples of his mistaken predictions. Fauci hasn’t been to the White House since early June.
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