MILWAUKEE (CN) — The chair of the Republican National Committee announced Friday the party had selected Milwaukee to host its 2024 convention, making Wisconsin’s largest city the site of a national party convention for the second time in four years, and for only the second time ever.
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted Friday that, after months of speculation, the committee voted unanimously to bring the Republicans' 2024 nominating convention to Milwaukee, a city of around 600,000 on the shores of Lake Michigan and a dyed-in-the-wool liberal stronghold that has had one Republican mayor—and three Socialists—since 1900. The announcement arrived on the final day of the RNC’s final summer meeting from Aug. 2-5 in Chicago.
“Milwaukee is a world-class city, and we are eager to see it shine in the spotlight come 2024,” McDaniel said.
Democrats held their national convention and nominated Joe Biden for president in Milwaukee in 2020, though they were forced to scale back almost all in-person activities because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Biden went on to win the Badger State in a close contest four years after Donald Trump flipped it from blue to red in 2016.
The Republicans’ choice all but proclaims their resolve to reverse Trump’s fortunes in Wisconsin and take back a purple battleground coveted by both parties. Wisconsin’s relatively modest 10 electoral votes can prove consequential in presidential elections, as they did in 2020 when Biden secured key states like Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona from Republicans as late linchpins on his way to the White House.
The short list of possible host cities for the GOP’s convention whittled down to Milwaukee and Nashville earlier this year, but Milwaukee’s chances went from probability to shoe-in over the last three weeks when a GOP site selection committee gave the Cream City its unanimous recommendation in mid-July and Nashville’s Metro Council voted down hosting the convention on Tuesday.
The idea of Milwaukee—a firmly left-leaning region in local, state and national elections—hosting the Republicans’ convention has caused some tension in the city.
Liberal community advocacy and labor groups like Voces de la Frontera Action and SEIU Wisconsin in June slammed Mayor Cavalier Johnson and other city leaders for unanimously approving a draft agreement to host the convention, expressing outrage at hosting a GOP that has become “a modern-day neo-fascist party inspired by Donald Trump’s unapologetic allegiance to white supremacist ideas.”
The groups also questioned the purported boons to employment, income and revenues for the construction and hospitality industries the convention would bring to Milwaukee, which elected officials and business leaders have said could be around $200 million.
In March, Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg said in a now-deleted tweet that, should Milwaukee host the RNC, she would leave town “lest I be hung in the town square like some have threatened.” She later clarified the tweet was a misguided attempt at dark humor playing off death threats she has received in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, which Trump and many Republicans still insist without evidence was marred by widespread fraud, including in Wisconsin and particularly in liberal areas like Milwaukee.
But among the powers that be in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, there’s been reliable bipartisan support for hosting the convention as a sound business decision regardless of politics since rumblings about it first emerged after the city’s shot at the Democrats’ 2020 convention was compromised by the coronavirus.
The RNC’s selection comes amid a closely watched handful of midterm elections in Wisconsin with broad implications for both parties, primaries for which are on Tuesday.
Republican voters next week will decide between Rebecca Kleefisch, a former lieutenant governor, and local construction magnate Tim Michels to see who will get a chance to unseat Democratic Governor Tony Evers this fall. Trump has endorsed Michels and will stump for him in Waukesha on Friday. Kleefisch is backed by former Vice President Mike Pence, who rallied for her in Waukesha on Wednesday, as well as important figures in the state’s GOP establishment.
Tuesday’s primary is also likely to result in current Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes emerging as the Democrats’ candidate to run for U.S. Senate in a race against two-term Republican incumbent Ron Johnson. Three other primary contenders dropped out and endorsed Barnes within five days of each other in late July as Democrats closed ranks around the candidate they feel has the best shot at beating Johnson and perhaps adding to their razor-thin advantage in the Senate.Follow @cnsjkelly
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.