Democrats’ first big virtual convention kicks off in Texas

Joe Biden. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Democrats will try their first large-scale virtual convention starting Monday in Texas as plans for a traditional national convention this summer remain unsettled because of the coronavirus.

Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are among the scheduled speakers in Texas. Democrats in Minnesota had also planned on holding their state convention online this weekend but postponed amid unrest over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck down for several minutes as Floyd pleaded for air and eventually stopped moving.

Texas Democrats scrapped plans for an in-person convention in San Antonio because of the pandemic. Regardless, they hope the virtual gathering will serve as a springboard toward November, when Democrats have a rare shot at reclaiming power in Texas. Big gains in 2018 have put them within nine seats of flipping the Texas House for the first time in two decades.

The two Democrats in a July primary runoff to challenge Republican Sen. John Cornyn — Air Force veteran M.J. Hegar and state Sen. Royce West — will also debate Saturday.

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The Democratic National Convention has delayed their convention from July until August but are open to the idea of it unfolding virtually.

Meanwhile, Texas Republicans are still planning to hold their state convention in-person in July.