GOP convention in the balance? Lawsuit filed in Jacksonville against RNC and Trump campaign

A lawsuit has been filed against the RNC and President Trump’s campaign in hopes of stopping the national convention in Jacksonville in August. Several business owners brought the lawsuit, reasoning that the convention will be detrimental to the health of the community.


Some of the wording here is sounding pretty familiar, especially if you have watched the drama with the Republican Party of Texas’ state convention in Houston. Yesterday I updated my latest post on it to include the news that Mayor Sylvester has, in fact, canceled the convention. He cites a “clear and present danger to the health and well-being of convention attendees, workers, local hotel and restaurant owners and Houstonians”. The term “force majeure” is used. A clause in the contract allows one side to cancel for an occurrence out of its control. The definition included “epidemics in the City of Houston.” The lawsuit in Jacksonville states the convention will “constitute a nuisance.”

On Wednesday, attorney W.C. Gentry argued the RNC “may cause COVID-19 to spread beyond anything experience in the world to date,” during a court hearing, reports The Florida Times-Union.

“Unless restricted by the court, the congregation of thousands of people in close proximity for extended periods will constitute a nuisance and result in massive spread of COVID-19,” the suit read.

A Jacksonville attorney asked a judge Wednesday to require the GOP convention shrink to a smaller size with face masks and social distancing in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The convention is planned for Aug. 24-27 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. The arena holds 15,000 people though that amount of people are not expected to attend the convention. The lawsuit was filed in circuit court. Also cited is the fact that the arena is near a neighborhood with Black and older residents – those most at risk for the coronavirus.


“We received the lawsuit late this afternoon and our legal team is currently reviewing the documents,” city spokeswoman Nikki Kimbleton said.

The suit cites a 1917 state law letting citizens go to court to get relief from nuisances that affect the public in general and sue in the name of the state, which is also listed as a plaintiff.

The other plaintiffs are attorneys Dexter Davis and Tad Delegal; Curtis L. Booker, pastor of God’s Way of Living International Church; Duval schools employee Albert L. Buckner III; civic figure and certified pubic accountant Jack Meeks; and Dana Miller and Robin Wallace, owners of hair care businesses near the arena that the suit says will have to close during the convention.

The suit notes that Black and elderly people are statistically more likely to be harmed by the coronavirus. It adds that the arena is next to a neighborhood with a lot of Black and older residents.

The lawsuit wants the convention to be canceled. If not canceled, then the convention should not be bigger than 2,500 people. During a news conference on Tuesday, Mayor Lenny Curry told reporters that Gov. Ron DeSantis’s executive orders limit all venues like the arena to 50 percent occupancy limit. It is not clear if that restriction will be in place in August. As in Texas, the coronavirus is spiking in Florida right now.

Many lawmakers, including Senators Grassley, Mitt Romney, Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski have already declared they will not attend the convention, most due to health concerns. President Trump, during an interview with Greta Van Susteren, said he would consider a smaller convention as an acceptable compromise for holding the convention in Florida. He acknowledged it depends on the status of the coronavirus outbreak. Trump is expected to accept the party’s nomination in Jacksonville. He said the GOP is “flexible”


“Well, we’re always looking at different things. When we signed in Jacksonville, we wanted to be in North Carolina. That almost worked out, but the governor didn’t want to have people use the arena, essentially. And so I said, ‘Too bad for North Carolina,’ “ Trump told Van Susteren on her show, “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren,” which will air Sunday on Gray Television.

“Look, we’re very flexible. We can do a lot of things, but we’re very flexible,” the president added, according to a transcript of the interview provided to the Miami Herald.

Trump said that when the RNC announced it was changing venues from Charlotte to Jacksonville on June 11, Florida “looked good.” And even if cases are spiking up, he expects “that’s going to go down.”

Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican, enacted a mandatory mask requirement for public and indoor spaces in Duval County on June 29. He said he is reminding people that there is time for the situation on the ground to change before it is convention time. He said the convention has to adhere to state orders. “I would just remind people that the convention is many, many weeks away, in late August,” Curry said. “We are currently under a statewide executive order by the governor. Facilities cannot participate in anything over 50% capacity. That’s where we are right now.”

On Monday it was announced that the attendees will be tested daily for the coronavirus. Mayor Curry is a co-chair of the convention’s host committee.

“The RNC is committed to holding a safe convention that fully complies with local health regulations in place at the time,” said Michael Ahrens, a Republican National Committee spokesman. “The event is still almost two months away, and we are planning to offer health precautions including but not limited to temperature checks, available PPE, aggressive sanitizing protocols, and available Covid-19 testing.”


Tuesday, Mayor Curry announced that he is self-quarantining after he came in contact with someone who has the coronavirus. He says he has tested negative for the virus but will continue to work from home and follow guidelines from the CDC.

Will the GOP convention go the way of the Texas state convention? It looks like that will depend on the coronavirus and its severity in Florida as the time grows closer.

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