The Republican National Committee announced Friday that it will hold its 2020 convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, making official a decision that had long been expected by party insiders.
The RNC’s announcement puts the city back in the national spotlight eight years after it hosted the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
“I am thrilled to announce Charlotte as the official host city for the 2020 Republican National Convention,” RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing the Queen City take center stage as the Republican Party re-nominates President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to continue fighting for the American people.”
Ron Kaufman, the RNC’s site selection chairman, described Charlotte as “a city that has demonstrated its southern hospitality, showcased its vibrant energy and proven that possibilities are endless.”
The decision was made in a unanimous vote at the RNC’s summer meeting in Austin. The expected dates of the convention were not immediately known.
Unlike past convention announcements, there was little suspense surrounding Friday’s news, with Charlotte long considered the front-runner.
In January, the RNC held an “interested cities day” gathering. Representatives from seven cities – Charlotte, Dallas, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Nashville, Phoenix and St. Louis – showed up.
But in the end, only Charlotte continued to bid seriously to host the quadrennial GOP confab. One other city, Las Vegas, was also in the running, but the bid was pushed mainly by the Nevada Republican Party; the Las Vegas government and local tourism authority stayed on the sidelines.
On the local level, however, the fierce debate over whether deep-blue Charlotte should host the GOP convention – and with it, presumably, President Donald Trump – reflected the rift that has developed nationally between the Democratic establishment and progressives who have urged their party to take a harder line against the president.
Trump bested Hillary Clinton to win North Carolina by more than three percentage points in 2016. But Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is located, voted heavily for Clinton, 63 percent to 33 percent.
On Monday, the Charlotte city council narrowly voted 6 to 5 to give the convention the green light. That was followed by a unanimous vote in favor of Charlotte by the RNC’s site selection committee Wednesday.
Charlotte’s Democratic mayor, Vi Lyles, wrote this month in a Charlotte Observer op-ed that she would welcome the GOP convention to her city – both for its economic impact as well as to send a message of inclusivity at a time when national partisan tensions are running high.
“If our city were selected to host the 2020 RNC, we would plan for an inclusive experience representative of what we know and love about Charlotte,” Lyles wrote. “While our country is at a tipping point of incivility, Charlotte is a place where we value diverse experiences and inclusive dialogue.”
There has been strong pushback, however, among some local Democrats who argue that the city should not play host to Trump. The president has not formally announced a reelection bid but has suggested that he plans to run.
In an interview, Charlotte city council member Braxton Winston said that he views Trump not as a Republican but as “a demagogue of hate.”
“If this were John McCain or Mitt Romney, I don’t think we’d be having the same debate” over whether to host the convention, he said.
Winston was among the council members who voted “no” Monday. Now, he said, the priority is to make sure that the convention is a success and that the economic gains it brings to the city are felt as much by service industry workers as they are by those at the upper rungs of the socioeconomic ladder.
North Carolina’s largest city is in the midst of a growth spurt. Central Charlotte’s population has increased by more than 50 percent since 2012, the local transportation infrastructure has rapidly expanded, and a host of new hotels and businesses are under construction, according to the Observer.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Felicia Sonmez, David Weigel