Republican leaders officially name Charlotte as host city for 2020 RNC

AUSTIN, Texas — Charlotte City Council Member-at-Large James Mitchell raised his fist in the air, and then hugged Councilman Ed Driggs.

The crowd rose to its feet.

The Republican National Committee, on Friday, officially named Charlotte as the host city for the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Charlotte leaders arrived in Austin, Texas, on Thursday in anticipation of officially being selected.

"I am thrilled to announce Charlotte as the official host city for the 2020 Republican National Convention," said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. "We look forward to seeing the Queen City take center stage as the Republican Party renominates President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to continue fighting for the American people."

John Lassister, the CEO of the host committee, is tasked with raising $70 million, and he said 10 percent has already been committed.

The acceptance news conference came roughly an hour after McDaniel lambasted national Democrats for refusing to work with Republicans.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and two Democratic council members were in the audience listening to the speech.

Before the event, Lyles and Driggs had expressed hope that Charlotte could be an example of how the two parties could work together.

“I believe our democratic process has served our city well and it can serve our country as a model,” Lyles said.

“We don't want to make exceptions,” Driggs said. “We don't want to be a part of the political divide.”

President Donald Trump’s campaign manager praised the selection and said Charlotte's economy is a prime example of how the president’s agenda is improving lives.

“What we can showcase in Charlotte is the kind of open discussion we are willing to have,” Lyles said. “Most of our votes are not by party. I think most of us vote by what makes Charlotte a great city for everyone. We feel we can be a great example for this country.”

“People constantly say, 'Take politics out of it. Do what's right for the city,'” Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt said. “I think in this case we've done that.”

Councilwoman Dimple Ajmera, who voted no for the RNC coming to Charlotte, released this statement:

“There are three components to the business case: City, community and the overall brand.

"1. Let's start with the city: In 2012, we received $50M in federal grant to host the DNC and we used almost all of $50M.

“Now let’s compare it to 2020 RNC, 8 years later – we’ll get the same amount of federal grant with much higher risk and no additional money to account for an inflation.

“Also, keep in mind the other liabilities that we’re incurring, such as security assets over $50M that we decide to keep and potential liability over the first amendment issues.

“2. Now, let’s look at the second component, which is the community.

“The economic impact is based on the trickle-down theory, which doesn’t really work

"To see the real impact, we have to break it down in jobs, businesses and neighborhoods.

“With jobs – How many new lasting and good paying jobs are created? None. It’s a temporary situation.

"With businesses – It's a short term spike for hospitality and retail businesses. It's not sustainable and it doesn't solve our economic mobility crisis.

“With neighborhoods – Once the convention’s lights and sounds are gone, what will be the lasting impact for our residents off of Thomasboro, West to Albemarle?

“3. Now, let’s look at the final component and that is our brand and goodwill.

“If we’re able to pull this off successfully, Charlotte brand will be known for hosting one of the most toxic conventions in the history.

“Is this something we really want to be known for?

“And if we’re not able to pull this off successfully, bless our hearts!

“As I mentioned in my speech, this doesn’t pass the business case.”

On Wednesday morning, at a closed at the summer Republican meetings in Austin, the RNC Site Selection Committee voted unanimously to select the Queen City to host the convention.

The entire 168-member RNC delegation made it official with a vote Friday morning.

"We are incredibly proud to have helped shepherd this opportunity on behalf of our great city," said Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray. "Charlotte has the collaboration, infrastructure and hospitality that will make the 2020 RNC an unforgettable experience for its attendees. We recognize and are prepared for the tremendous responsibility of welcoming 35,000 visitors to our community for this event and can’t wait to get started."

Center City (uptown, South End, Midtown) Stats:

  • In 2012, there were 17,695 residents, compared to 27,200 now.
  • In 2012, there were 103,000 workers, compared to 125,000 now.
  • In 2012, there was 25.5 million square feet of office space, compared to 28 million now – and more under construction.
  • In 2012, there were 178 restaurants and bars in Uptown and South End, compared to 276+ now.
  • In 2012, there were 4,400 hotel rooms in Center City, compared to 5,300 now and 7,300+ that will be complete in 2020. (A 66% increase from 2012 to 2020.)

[RELATED: Charlotte leaders vote 6-5 to endorse hosting RNC in 2020]

[RELATED: Charlotte one final vote away from being official host of 2020 RNC]

In a candid question-and-answer segment organized by Charlotte City Councilman Tariq Bokhari, Site Selection Chairman Ron Kaufman went into great detail about how the vote for Charlotte on Friday came to be.

Kaufman said he sent letters to 30 cities and seven expressed interest.

Of those seven, Charlotte and Las Vegas stood out.


What Kaufman loved about Charlotte, he said, was that, from elected officials to Uber drivers, everyone seemed to be passionate about the city.

He admitted he kept a close eye on Monday's Charlotte City Council meeting when city leaders approved the framework to host Republican leaders.

Reporter Joe Bruno is in Austin and will tweet breaking updates on today's vote as they happen. Download the WSOC-TV app to receive breaking alerts on your mobile device.

Kaufman said he was surprised that most of the speakers were in favor.

He added that he loved the diversity of speakers and said he is confident Charlotte will pull together and host a great convention.

When asked about security and protests, Kaufman said that is the least of his worries.

He said Cleveland was a more partisan city than Charlotte and there were only 27 arrests.

“There is so much time and effort being put in to make sure Charlotte will be the safest city in America that week,” Kaufman said.

Doug Lebda, the CEO of LendingTree, an online lending exchange company based in Charlotte, was also in Texas, and said every major convention and trade show will be looking at Charlotte since the city will have landed both the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

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