Every four years, the nation’s two political parties host their national convention. During the week-long events, the parties present their platforms and ultimately nominate their presidential candidate after a grueling primary season. Still, it’s questionable in the modern era how much influence the conventions have on the voting public just three to four months ahead of a November general election. Instead, they tend to be rallying cries for the base and an economic boom in cities that host them.
It appears that the Republican National Committee (RNC) is preparing to award its 2024 convention to Milwaukee. On Friday, July 15, the GOP site selection panel made its recommendation to the full committee. The panel cited the Milwaukee city leaders’ professionalism. Still, there is some debate and controversy surrounding the decision.
Controversy Shrouds the Decision
The selection committee had chosen four Democratic-run cities for consideration. Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City pulled out late in the winter. Just days ahead of the panel recommending Milwaukee, Nashville also backed out of the race to host. At the last moment, two city council members pulled the draft agreement for consideration to allow time to address numerous concerns and objections.
Nashville officials said they backed out of consideration for several reasons. Among them were security concerns and hosting. Second, some council members said the RNC didn’t represent their values. Others said they didn’t support the RNC after the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) overturned Roe v. Wade. So, it appears that city Democrats are willing to buck the widely conservative state to make a point and cost themselves millions in tourism revenue.
That left Milwaukee as the only viable option for the RNC.
Due to the size of the political events and security issues, the RNC must secure an agreement with a city to secure a $50 million federal security grant to host the event.
Wisconsin Lobbies for RNC Convention
In 2016, Wisconsin voted for former President Donald Trump, helping him win the rust belt states that swung the election. In 2020, then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden won the state by a razor-slim half a percent. So, it’s entirely possible that the GOP presidential candidate could once again win the bellwether state in light of President Biden’s collapsing poll numbers.
With tens of millions or more of tourism dollars on the line, Wisconsin media and businesses lobbied hard for the convention over concerns by some in the community that it could attract protestors and rioters.
VISIT Milwaukee President & CEO Peggy Williams-Smith said the RNC decision isn’t surprising considering the city’s world-class venues and hospitality options. The full committee hasn’t formalized the decision yet. The RNC will vote on the Milwaukee recommendation in August.