Milwaukee will officially be the site of the 2024 Republican National Convention, hosting an event that could draw 50,000 visitors and millions of dollars to the city.
It’s a move by Republicans to try to retake Wisconsin after Democratic President Joe Biden narrowly defeated Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Wisconsin has been a crucial swing state in recent races national.
Republicans will nominate their next candidate for President of the United States in a city that has been a Democratic stronghold for years, as conservative leaders will likely host and hold events near monuments named after former socialist mayors who have formerly served the city.
The choice was made official Friday morning at the JW Marriott Hotel in Chicago, as Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel joined Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Milwaukee Host Committee Chair Reince Priebus to sign the agreement.
From now on, the organizers have two years to prepare the event.
“Over the next two years, we look forward to working with the Mayor and all members of the community to make this an event that not only highlights the RNC and our candidate for 2024, but highlights the great city. what is Milwaukee,” McDaniel said at the event.
Johnson is optimistic the event would bring long-term benefits to the city.
“We look forward to not only hosting a great convention in 2024 for Republicans, but we look forward to hosting a number of world-class events with eyes and attention on our city in the years to come” , Johnson said. .
“There are a wide range of very positive signs for Milwaukee and its future and the possibility of hosting a major political convention is just one of those positive signs,” he said.
Milwaukee was also selected to host the Democratic National Convention in 2020. Several months of planning went into this event as the city prepared to be in the national spotlight. But the event was moved remotely after the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to shut down all in-person events. It was a blow for a city that was already reeling from the adverse effects of the pandemic on the local economy.
Now the city will once again have its chance in the spotlight. But the entire Greater Milwaukee area could also benefit from the convention, as the hospitality industry will see a surge in visitor numbers.
“It’s great for the state, it’s great for the city of Milwaukee, but it’s also great for Waukesha County,” said Paul Farrow, Waukesha County Executive and Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman. .
“We are going to benefit from the hotel rooms, the places that we have to offer,” he added.
Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the Center for Election Research, said bringing the convention to Milwaukee is a strategic move by Republicans to take back the state.
“It has a lot of political value to be in a key battleground state and in the Midwest, where there are other states to be won,” Burden said of the pick.
Burden also said it was not unusual for Republicans to pick a city that had been a stronghold for Democrats for so long.
“They (Milwaukee) welcome the business,” he said. “Parties have to hold their conventions somewhere and there aren’t really any major cities in the United States today that are Republican-friendly in terms of voting patterns.”
The Fiserv Forum has confirmed that the event will be held in their arena in 2024.
“The RNC will be a great symbol of Milwaukee’s future growth and will continue to be a compelling example that our city and our arena can expertly and successfully host premier events,” said Fiserv Forum President Peter Feigin.
Biden returned Wisconsin blue after Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
Democrats have historically performed very well in Milwaukee County. In 2020, Biden won nearly 70% of the popular vote in the county.
But Republicans have been increasingly dominant in the state’s smaller, more rural communities.
Ben Wikler, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, released a statement after the news.
“We commend Mayor Johnson and the Crowley County Executive for their leadership in a move to bring major economic stimulus to Milwaukee. In the meantime, we look forward to countering the GOP’s message of radicalism and divisiveness and ensuring until the Republican Party nominee loses Wisconsin again in 2024,” Wikler said in the statement.
The Republicans held their 2020 convention with limited in-person events in Charlotte, North Carolina. But in 2016, Cleveland hosted the convention.
A 2017 report from Cleveland State University found that the economic impact of the 2016 convention was $142.2 million. Prior to the event, many supporters also said the convention would generate approximately $200 million in economic activity.
The report also revealed that the RNC supported a total of 1,348 jobs during the four-day event.
VISIT Milwaukee has also been pushing for the event to come to Milwaukee since the city requested it.
“We look forward to hosting the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in 2024 to show its attendees and the world Milwaukee’s world-class locations, attractions, restaurants, hotels and all the other amenities that make our city such a great place. on a Great Lake,” Peggy Williams-Smith, President and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee, said in a statement. “We are excited to be working with members of the Republican National Committee, Milwaukee Host Committee and the city of Milwaukee to host what we know will be the best Republican National Convention yet.”
Community groups denounce the decision
But a coalition of community and labor organizations called on the city to reject the convention.
Following the approval, Voces de la Frontera Action, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities, Never Again is Now, Service Employees International Union Wisconsin State Council and Freedom Action Now issued a joint statement, calling the approval an “alarming decision”.
“Hosting the RNC in Milwaukee rejects the voices and concerns of Milwaukee’s black, brown, and immigrant communities and members of the LGBTQ+ community, people who value free and fair elections, and organizations that have publicly opposed the adoption by the RNC of racist and xenophobic policies, anti-working class policies and attacks on women’s rights and LGBTQ rights,” the statement read.
How did it get here
In 2019, Milwaukee beat Houston and Miami to host the DNC.
This time around, the city beat out Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City and Nashville to get the RNC. The city has been working to host the event since last fall, officially submitting a bid in December.
Milwaukee quickly became a top contender for the event. A month after submitting its bid, Politico announced that Milwaukee had become a finalist in the process.
The Republican National Convention Site Selection Committee traveled to Milwaukee in February, visiting several important Milwaukee sites, including American Family Field, Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro, Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, State Fair Park and 3rd St. Market Lobby in the former Grand Avenue Mall, among other sites. They also visited the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office and the city’s police and fire departments to review safety plans.
Wisconsin Public Radio reported that Milwaukee and Nashville were convention favorites in March.
And in June, the Milwaukee City Council approved a framework agreement for the convention, laying the groundwork for the event to come to the city.
Earlier this week, the Nashville Tennessean reported that Nashville council members rejected a draft agreement to host the convention, effectively knocking Nashville out of the running.