CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The 2020 Republican National Convention will be held in Charlotte, according to Nevada GOP Chair Michael McDonald.
At the summer Republican meetings in Austin, Texas, the RNC Site Selection Committee voted in closed session Wednesday morning to officially select the Queen City to host the convention in 2020.
The 12-member selection committee voted unanimously in favor of Charlotte.
The entire 168-member RNC delegation will vote Friday morning, but Channel 9 was told that is just a formality.
Committee member Jonathan Barnett from Arkansas said there were seven cities that applied to host the 2020 convention and the committee narrowed it down to Charlotte and Las Vegas. He said the heated debate at the City Council meeting didn't hurt Charlotte's chances.
“Everybody has to express themselves, and there are two political parties. It is just human nature,” Barnett said.
Committee member Ada Fisher from Charlotte said the 2020 convention will be a good opportunity to show the world what Charlotte is about.
“We are a very diverse community with all kinds of opportunities for all kinds of people regardless of age sex or color,” Fisher said.
Sarah Reidy-Jones, vice chair of the Mecklenburg County GOP, said her team will hit the ground running trying to recruit about 5,000 volunteers for the convention.
“It will be a great show,” Reidy-Jones said.
The vote follows Charlotte City Council’s 6-5 approval Monday of a framework to host Republican leaders.
Representatives from the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority flew to Austin while Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and four members of city council plan to be in Austin on Thursday.
CRVA representative Laura White said they are anticipating the Republican National Convention in Charlotte will have an economic impact compared to about three or four CIAA Tournaments. She also said the publicity from television and online publications will be priceless.
“Anytime you have 15,000 journalists reporting in your city, you have so many eyeballs and so many impressions being made about Charlotte, that we wouldn't be able to do through a traditional marketing process,” White said.
Once in Texas, they are expected to have informal meetings with national Republican leaders.
Sources told Channel 9 reporter Joe Bruno that Lyles will be accompanied to Austin by Republican councilmembers Ed Driggs and Tariq Bokhari as well as Democratic members James Mitchell and Julie Eiselt.
North Carolina GOP Chairman Robin Hayes credits Lyles for helping ensure the city was selected.
“The mayor has been superb,” Hayes said. “I know she has caught some flack, which is unfortunate because her attitude has been great for Charlotte.”
President Donald Trump wasn't directly involved in the selection, but Nevada GOP chairman Michael McDonald told Channel 9 that Charlotte's selection shows the president has confidence in the city.
The choices to host the RNC came down to Charlotte and Las Vegas. McDonald said what hurt his bid is the fact their new football stadium won't be finished until June 2020.
NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse spoke to Channel 9 Tuesday ahead of Wednesday’s vote. He anticipates the 2020 convention will be the best in Republican history.
“People will talk about the state of North Carolina and its barbecue, its culture, its basketball, its people and its rich traditions,” Woodhouse said. “Those are the things you just can't buy unless you land a historic event like this.”
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles was happy about the bid but said it was premature for her to comment before the official announcement.
Other city leaders at the Government Center agreed to speak on the issue.
“We now know there was a unanimous vote by the site selection committee selecting Charlotte. This is a big day?” Channel 9 reporter Paul Boyd asked.
“That's what the information that's been leaked has said, and if that's the case, let me tell ya, let's shake hands because that's a really big milestone on our way to Friday at 11 a.m. when that recommendation will be considered by the complete body,” council member Tariq Bokhari said.
On the other side of the debate, Democrats who voted against hosting the RNC, including LaWana Mayfield, said they were focused on moving forward.
“My vote is my vote, but if we are selected, the reality is we're going to highlight the beauty of our city and we're going to ensure that we move forward,” Mayfield said. “We're going to welcome those that are going to come and support and those who are going to come in opposition because that is democracy.”
Mayfield added that it’s time to get back to work on other city priorities, including affordable housing.
As the news of Charlotte's 2020 RNC selection settles in, the effort to unify and find common ground continues among city leaders.
“At the end of the day, we're a very diverse community,” Mayfield said. “We're going to have differing opinions.”
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