By Scott Bauer, Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Republicans have unanimously chosen Milwaukee in the swing state of Wisconsin for the 2024 national convention, a victory for the city on the shores of Lake Michigan after its hosting of the Democratic convention in 2020 was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The August 5 decision in favor of Milwaukee over Nashville, announced at the Republican National Committee’s summer meeting in Chicago, was a disappointment after Nashville essentially dropped out of the race when the city council rejected the 2 August a draft agreement for hosting. the event. It came after the Democratic opposition sank that city’s chances and the RNC site selection committee chose Milwaukee in July.
Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson joined Reince Priebus, former chief of staff to then-President Donald Trump, in hailing the decision after it was announced in Chicago. Johnson thanked Priebus for his work in helping clinch the convention and said it was an example of bipartisanship that the country badly needed.
Johnson touted Milwaukee, known for the Brewers baseball team, Bucks basketball team, kids and beer, as a city “full of unexpected gems.” He also explained why he and so many other Democrats were eager to land the convention hosted by their political rivals.
“I want you to bring all your money to Milwaukee, spend it that week, and leave it in Milwaukee,” Johnson said.
While Johnson called for bipartisan support, emphasizing economic stimulus, some liberals lamented the welcoming of Republicans to the city that is home to the largest contingent of Democrats in the state.
Black Leaders Organizing for Communities, a Milwaukee-based liberal group, said having the convention in the city “will make us feel unsafe and unwelcome in our own communities.”
“We call on our elected officials to begin to consider what is best not just from a fiscal perspective, but also what is best for all Milwaukee residents and communities,” BLOC said in a statement. . Other groups expressing their opposition include Voces de la Frontera Action and the SEIU Wisconsin State Council.
Priebus, who served as Wisconsin Republican Party chairman before taking over as RNC leader and then serving under Trump, said Milwaukee’s choice was politically significant and would give Republicans a chance to spend more time in the state.
“It’s a battleground state, it’s important,” Priebus said. “I know sometimes we debate it, but it’s important.”
Wisconsin could determine who wins in 2024, while Tennessee hasn’t endorsed a Democrat for president since 1996. But Milwaukee’s pick is in line with recent Republican picks for the convention. For two decades, Republicans have placed their nominating convention in swing states – North Carolina, Ohio and Florida.
Trump narrowly won Wisconsin in 2016 but lost to President Joe Biden by an almost identical margin in 2020.
Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Paul Farrow, who was in Chicago for the RNC meeting, said holding the convention in Milwaukee will “energize our base even more to realize that we are a very important hinge across the country. “. The Wisconsin winner has been elected president for the past four elections.
Milwaukee, a Democratic stronghold, was selected to host the 2020 Democratic National Committee convention, but that moved almost entirely online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden accepted the nomination in Delaware, not Milwaukee. The city used its preparations for this convention to make the point to Republicans that it had a “turnkey” operation ready to host for real in 2024.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper and others have expressed concerns about safety, the economic trade-off of having to shut down the bustling downtown except for convention business, and the implications of grounding city resources for the event.