Escalating his push for the Texas GOP to hold its convention virtually, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner had said earlier in the day that he had asked the city's legal department to review the contract between the State Republican Executive Committee and the convention venue's operator, Houston First Corporation.
Turner announced later that he had officially instructed Houston First Corporation to cancel its contract with the state GOP.
"A letter has been sent to the (executive committee) of the state Republican Party by Houston First signed by the president and the chairman canceling this convention," the mayor said at a press conference.
"These are some very serious times and the public safety of the people attending the convention, the employees, their family members, the people in the city of Houston -- the public health concerns are first and foremost, paramount," Turner added.
Turner, who is Black, spoke in personal terms at one point during the presser, invoking the memory of his late mother as he explained the reasoning behind his decision.
"The linchpin for me (was) when one of the people on my staff, combined with my sister, who said to me, 'mayor, brother, your mom was a maid working at these hotels. And if your mom was alive today working at one of these hotels (would) you as the mayor still allow this convention to go forth and run the risk of infecting your mom?' " he said. "And the answer is no."
Turner continued: "So you don't have to be my mom, OK? But I am the mayor of every single person in this city. And if you're not willing to step up and do the right thing, I am not going to divorce my responsibility and my job."
The Texas Democratic Party applauded Turner's move in a statement later Wednesday, saying that without it, hospitality workers in the city "would have been forced to go through with this convention at clear risk to their health and livelihood."
The mayor had said during a City Council meeting earlier Wednesday that the city would exercise any provisions it finds that would allow it to cancel the contract and not allow the GOP convention to go forward.
"Where there are provisions that would allow us to cancel this convention, we will exercise those provisions," Turner said. "The plan is to exercise those provisions, to cancel this agreement, this contract, today, to not go forward with this convention."
The Texas GOP convention was set to be held indoors at the George R. Brown Convention Center from July 16-18 and was expected to draw thousands to downtown Houston. Committee meetings were set to begin on July 13.
Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey said in a statement earlier Wednesday that the party's legal team is "assessing the ability of the City to act at this time in this manner and weighing our legal options."
"We are prepared to take all necessary steps to proceed in the peaceable exercise of our constitutionally protected rights," Dickey said.
The Texas Republican Party had previously announced that t