When Republicans officially name their next candidate for president of the United States, it appears likely they will do it in Milwaukee.
The site selection committee for the Republican National Committee is recommending Milwaukee as the site for its 2024 national convention. The full committee is expected to make a final decision on the host site in early August.
Richard Waters, senior advisor to the RNC, issued a statement saying the site selection committee voted on their recommendation on July 15.
“It is a testament to the forthright and professional behavior embraced by Milwaukee’s city leadership throughout the process,” Waters stated. “A final decision will be made by Chairman (Ronna) McDaniel and the full RNC in the coming weeks.”
Milwaukee is a finalist for the convention along with Nashville. If the GOP ultimately decides to come to Wisconsin for its convention, it will bring the party’s focus to what has been a critical swing state in recent national elections.
The city has been working to host the event since last fall, and officially put in an application in December. Tourism officials led by VISIT Milwaukee have estimated the event would have an economic impact of between $180 and $210 million.
On July 15, city leaders — and Wisconsin Republicans — celebrated the news.
Paul Farrow, county executive of Waukesha County and state chairman of the Republican Party, said he believed the national party’s desire to come to Milwaukee showed the centrality of Wisconsin voters in the next national election cycle.
“We see that the national party realizes the importance of Wisconsin in the elections that are coming up,” Farrow said. “We know that we have the linchpin. We know that we are swing state that is going to be integral to getting a Republican president back in the White House.”
Mayor Cavalier Johnson, a Democrat, said he welcomed the news that the city would likely host the convention, while acknowledging his own political desires are opposed to the party he has been working hard to attract.
“This is about future conventions and future business,” Johnson said. “When we show how Milwaukee hosts a big national political convention we are inviting other convention planners to take notice and to bring those activities and importantly those spending dollars right here to the city of Milwaukee and right here to the state of Wisconsin.”
Johnson said the economic interests of the city outweigh the political calculations.
“I disagree with the party’s political stance on a huge range of issues,” he said. “That being said, the Republicans will host their convention somewhere in the United States in two years. I want the economic benefits. I want the convention. I want the visors. I want the attention of the world to be right here on Milwaukee. That’s what the RNC will bring to this city, to this state.”
Efforts to bring the convention to the city have not been without controversy. Community groups called on the city to reject the convention, saying in a series of open letters that Republican priorities don’t align with the priorities of most Milwaukee residents. They also cast doubt on boosters’ financial projections.
If Milwaukee secures the convention, it will be something of a do-over.
In 2020, the city was host to the Democratic National Convention, and local leaders looked forward to showcasing Milwaukee to a national audience. But those plans were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced Democrats to shut down in-person events and shift the convention largely online.
Originally published on Wisconsin Public Radio as Milwaukee takes another step toward hosting 2024 Republican National Convention