‘It Was a Bit of a Miracle’: How Milwaukee Won the 2024 Republican National Convention


The 2024 Republican National Convention will be officially held in Milwaukee after a unanimous vote by the Republican National Committee, committee chairperson Ronna McDaniel announced on Friday.

“Milwaukee is a world-class city and we look forward to seeing it in the spotlight in 2024,” McDaniel wrote on Twitter.

The decision comes weeks after a GOP site selection panel unofficially chose the city of Wisconsin as the host city for the 2024 Republican National Convention.

Milwaukee’s roster has been nearly a year in the making. It started 11 months ago with an emailed invitation that landed on the desk of VISIT Milwaukee president and chief executive Peggy Williams-Smith.

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Williams-Smith checked in with then Milwaukee Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. He was on board. And the race had begun.

On Friday, what once seemed like a ridiculous idea — bringing Republicans to a bright-blue town on Lake Michigan — became a reality when the Republican National Committee officially selected Milwaukee to host the party’s summer 2024 presidential nomination convention.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Reince Priebus, the former White House chief of staff under ex-President Donald Trump, were on hand to sign a framework agreement with RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel.

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How Milwaukee came out of the pack to win the bid is a story of determination, organization and a little bit of luck. With some cheese, sausage and beer.

Milwaukee was the last city left after the other finalist, Nashville could not approve a deal. The Nashville City Council was beset by political disagreements over holding the event.

“We were lucky enough to get support across party lines,” Williams-Smith said.

And the city somehow got it all done in the wake of a political hangover: the bygone dreams surrounding the 2020 Democratic Convention, which became a largely virtual event due to the pandemic.

“A lot of people were excited about the Democrats coming to Milwaukee for the opportunity to be on the international stage and build business for the future for the hospitality industry,” said Gerard Randall, who has led the effort. of Milwaukee to host the event in 2024. .

“And when it didn’t, for the reasons it didn’t, I think people were a little skeptical that the Republicans could make a successful effort here as well,” he said. “But you know, that went away pretty quickly. What we found is that almost all the big corporations that went out of their way to bring the Democrats here in 2020 certainly made a similar commitment to us.”

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There were a number of key moments along the way. Milwaukee put its best foot forward at the RNC Winter Meetings in Salt Lake City in early February, with a huge party celebrating the city’s cuisine and hospitality.

“We’ve gotten some real support,” Randall said.

A few weeks later, the RNC location selection committee toured the city. Milwaukee touted itself as a “turnkey operation” for all the work that went into preparing the Democratic Convention.

From the security footprint to key locations, Fiserv Forum and Wisconsin Center, to transportation and hotels, everything was there. It is noteworthy that local organizers claimed that delegates and their guests will be accommodated within 30 minutes of Fiserv Forum.

During the site selection visit, Johnson, a Democrat, stepped forward with an impassioned address to the selection committee members over dinner at Lake Park Bistro.

Williams-Smith said some members of the venue selection she was dining with picked up their phones “and called mayors across the country saying, ‘You need to meet this man.'”

While touring the Fiserv Forum, Priebus helped push the bid along with former state governor Scott Walker.

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Milwaukee had made it to the final round along with Nashville.

A final presentation at RNC offices in Washington, DC, in March, emphasized the dual nature of Milwaukee’s offer. Johnson and Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley were there. So was Republican US Senator Ron Johnson. And Priebus sent a recorded message.

“I never questioned my belief that we would make it to the convention once it was limited to two cities,” Randall said.

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Milwaukee was on the way.

The two-year countdown to the convention has now begun.

Final dates have not yet been set, but there are three possible windows in July and August 2024.

Funds must be raised by local organizers. Randall said the final bill could be between $70 and $75 million. For its part, the city must apply for a $50 million federal grant for security.

The local organizing committee is on the hook for any cost overruns.

For Milwaukee, the payout is up to 50,000 attendees, with local organizers claiming the event could bring in $200 million in economic benefits.

Contributions: Ella Lee

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: RNC 2024: How Milwaukee Won the 2024 Republican National Convention


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