Milwaukee Wins 2024 Republican National Convention
It's official. GOP will pick its presidential nominee in Milwaukee.
The Republicans are coming.
Milwaukee was formally announced Friday as the host of the 2024 Republican National Convention. The 168 national party members selected the city during its summer meeting in downtown Chicago.
The decision was widely expected, as the party had reduced the field of bidders to two, Milwaukee and Nashville, only to see the Nashville Metro Council reject the necessary host agreement.
Milwaukee successfully courted the national political convention using Wisconsin’s swing state status and the “turnkey” operation the city provided. After securing the 2020 Democratic National Convention and engaging in virtually all of the preparation work to host the event, the COVID-19 pandemic rendered the convention a largely virtual event.
In a press conference announcing the selection, McDaniel was first to thank Mayor Cavalier Johnson. Joining Johnson on stage were host committee chair and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, VISIT CEO Peggy Williams-Smith, Fire Chief Aaron Lipski, Police Chief Jeffrey Norman, Sheriff Earnell Lucas, Wisconsin Center District CEO Marty Brooks, state party chair Paul Farrow, host committee secretary Gerard Randall and County Executive David Crowley.
“We are committed to using vendors and being part of this community in a positive way that will benefit everyone,” said McDaniel.
She praised Johnson, then joked he should cover his ears when she said the convention would serve as the launchpad for the next president. Johnson, a Democrat, has long said he favors the event for the business impact, not the political impact.
“The entire world should be in shock because there is a bipartisan moment happening,” said McDaniel.
“I look forward to presenting my city,” said Johnson. “You will find that Milwaukee is full of unexpected gems… I want you to take all of your money to Milwaukee, spend it in that week and leave it there in our economy.”
He pivoted his speech to calling other conventions and major events to come to Milwaukee. “We want you in Milwaukee,” said the mayor. “Milwaukee is open for business.”
Priebus said raising the estimated $75 million necessary to host the convention wouldn’t be an issue. Randall previously told Urban Milwaukee that approximately one-third had been raised, but that the city emerging as the front-runner would make raising the rest easy. In addition to Priebus and Randall, Kathryn Burke and Ted Kellner serve on the host committee as vice chair and treasurer.
“This will be the first convention in person since Cleveland [in 2016],” said Priebus. “Milwaukee is the perfect place to go. It’s a battleground state. It matters.”
Similar to the DNC, the RNC is expected to bring 45,000 visitors to the area.
The brief press conference was followed by a ceremonial signing of the host agreement by Johnson, McDaniel and Priebus. It spells out the responsibilities for each entity and is required to access a federal security grant.
Locally, the state’s tax structure has been an issue and almost derailed the Common Council’s approval of a host agreement. A federal grant of approximately $50 million is expected to offset the security costs, but there is no expected financial windfall for the city government.
The city does not have its own sales, hotel or income tax, an issue raised by multiple council members during the approval process. The agreement the city ultimately approved, a three-party agreement between the host city, host committee and national party calls for a good faith effort to provide some benefit to the city, but excess revenue has historically been given to local nonprofits.
The announcement comes the same day as former president Donald Trump is hosting a rally in Waukesha County to endorse Tim Michels in the GOP gubernatorial race. Trump continues to advance a theory that the election was stolen from him.
The potential for violence and Republican political stances also were an issue during the approval process.
“The Republican Party, both nationally and in Wisconsin, has become an organization that supports White Supremacists, the violent attempted coup at the US Capitol to overthrow a democratic election, and continues to engineer new ways to undermine fair and democratic elections,” said a coalition led by Voces de la Frontera Action in May.
In anticipation of Milwaukee’s selection as the convention host, the newly-formed “Coalition to March on the RNC” announced it would discuss its protest plans later Friday afternoon.
“We welcome the opportunity to rally the masses of people across the country in opposition to the Republicans and their racist, sexist, bigoted, anti-worker agenda,” said Omar Flores, a spokesperson for the coalition, in a statement. “We’ll bring the fight right to their doorstep at their national convention in 2024.”
The convention, for which an official date remains to be announced, would be the first political convention in Milwaukee for either of the major political parties.
The multi-day event will be held at Fiserv Forum and the expanded Wisconsin Center. The city leveraged what was then a brand-new arena to woo Democrats in 2018. The $420 million Wisconsin Center expansion, to be completed in early 2024, was a key piece of landing the bid this time. Also key factors were the perceived compact footprint of the convention center and arena and the previously established security plan.
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Read more about 2024 RNC here