(Source: Washington Examiner)
Top Republicans in a half-dozen states are scrambling to land the August convention to renominate President Trump after party officials abruptly pulled out of North Carolina because Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper insisted on limiting festivities due to the coronavirus.
Hoping to capitalize on Charlotte’s loss, Republican leaders in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas were furiously working the phones Wednesday, competing to convince the Republican National Committee they are best equipped to host a quadrennial presidential nominating convention that meets Trump’s standards. In-person and virtual site visits by RNC officials are underway and expected to continue next week.
“I would like Arizona to be a possibility,” Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko told the Washington Examiner. “It’s a swing state. I think it would be a logical place to come.”
Late Tuesday, the RNC announced it would abandon Charlotte after two years of planning because of a dispute with Cooper over the size and scope of the convention. Claiming concern the gathering would spark a resurgence of coronavirus infections, the governor declined to guarantee the RNC that it would be permitted to fill the Spectrum Center arena to capacity or take full advantage of hospitality venues, such as restaurants and meeting space.
Lesko has since been in contact with White House and RNC officials, pitching Glendale, Arizona. The community, adjacent to Phoenix, is in her district, run by a Republican mayor, and home to a football stadium and hockey arena. Lesko also enlisted Rep. Andy Biggs, another Arizona Republican, to reach out to Trump directly. Deciding where to move the convention appears to be a joint project among the Trump campaign, the RNC, and senior convention staff.
“It’s a three-headed monster,” Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden said. “The convention team is the one that is sort of on ground trying to figure out what the options are.”
Tennessee Republicans, led by Gov. Bill Lee, are pitching Nashville, highlighting the state’s central location and “top-flight” airport. In Texas, Republicans are advertising their July state convention, which typically draws as many people as a national convention, as proof they are best positioned. Some Republicans are privately floating New Orleans, given its wealth of hospitality venues. Meanwhile, Florida Republicans Sen. Rick Scott and Gov. Ron DeSantis are urging the White House to pick Jacksonville, Orlando, or Tampa.
Jacksonville has a Republican mayor and is emerging as a top alternative if the city can solve one problem: a lack of hotel space. “I’m hearing we are getting the convention,” said a Republican official in northeast Florida. “City officials are in talks with the RNC as we speak.”
Presidential conventions are major undertakings that draw tens of thousands of people and take years to map out.
Although fears of COVID-19 could curtail the Democratic convention in Milwaukee in mid-August, Republicans led by Trump are committed to holding a traditional nominating celebration despite the health risks. That requires quick action to find a state that is far enough along in its transition back to a normal economic footing and then reserve thousands of hotel rooms, meeting space, and a venue big enough to house the proceedings.
Republican organizers also must satisfy Secret Service security requirements that might be even more stringent following days of civil unrest across the United States. To mitigate all of these challenges, the RNC is considering multiple options.
The party could remain in Charlotte for the summer business meeting scheduled for the week leading up to the convention, after which delegates would travel to the new site for the four-day celebration to nominate Trump. The RNC could spread aspects of the convention across multiple cities. Republican insiders say there is little chance Trump would accept the nomination in Charlotte, although there is a scenario in which early portions of the convention are kept in the Southern city.
“Should [Cooper] allow more than 10 people in a room, we still hope to conduct the official business of the convention in Charlotte,” an RNC official said in a statement.