Source: Charlotte named finalist to host GOP convention in 2020

Charlotte names as 2020 RNC finalist
Published: May. 4, 2018 at 3:59 PM EDT|Updated: May. 4, 2018 at 6:17 PM EDT
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North Carolina native Laura Trump speaks with Chair of RNC site selection committee Ron Kaufman...
North Carolina native Laura Trump speaks with Chair of RNC site selection committee Ron Kaufman before a closed session meeting of the site selection committee this week in Miami.
Photo of Dr. Ada Fisher talking up Charlotte RNC 2020 bid today in Miami.
Photo of Dr. Ada Fisher talking up Charlotte RNC 2020 bid today in Miami.

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The city of Charlotte has been named a finalist to host the Republican National Convention in 2020, WBTV has learned from RNC sources.

Charlotte was reportedly one of seven cities to submit a formal bid to host the event or take some part in the bid process.

Members of the 2020 site selection committee announced to hundreds of RNC activists at the spring meeting in Miami that the seven original cities had been whittled down to "about three"  strong contenders.

Charlotte is one of those cities.

The other cities are reportedly Las Vegas and another unnamed city in Texas, which sources at the meeting said were likely either Dallas or San Antonio.

According to WBTV sources, the site selection committee announced it could make a recommendation to President Donald Trump late this summer after formal site visits to the finalist cities.

Officials with the city of Charlotte and Mayor Vi Lyles declined to comment on the news, pointing WBTV to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) since the CRVA was the lead on the city's bid.

"This information hasn't been communicated via the RNC to us just yet," officials with the CRVA said Friday. "And we respect the process the RNC is going through as they make this important decision."

Charlotte's bid for the convention

Charlotte officially submitted a bid to host the 2020 Republican National Convention in early April after months of preparing the bid. City leaders announced in mid-February that Charlotte was asked in December to submit for the convention.

NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes previously told WBTV the proposal would highlight some strengths which he says are unique to Charlotte, including strong community support from both sides of the aisle, an easy access airport and a strong base of Republican volunteers within two hours of Charlotte, including South Carolina.

The proposal was expected to also highlight the city's improving infrastructure with new hotels since the city hosted the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Last week, a delegation of city officials and Charlotte civic leaders made a formal presentation to the committee planning the 2020 Republican National Convention. Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney, NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes and longtime Charlotte businessman and civic leader Ned Curran were reportedly a part of the delegation.

What about the other cities

Las Vegas, Dallas and San Antonio were named as the possible other finalists competing with Charlotte to land the convention. But the others don't seem to have the joint support from the city, tourism and the state Republican party.

City officials told WBTV they were not aware of a bid to host the convention. Las Vegas tourism officials said Thursday night that the Republican Party had reached out about a bid.

"The RNC did reach out to us. Unfortunately, we do not have availability in the facilities based on the criteria for the event so we had to decline the opportunity to bid," Jeremy Handel with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said.

But according to CNN, the Nevada State Chairman of the Republican Party, Michael McDonald, pitched Las Vegas to the selection committee on Wednesday at the Trump National Doral Miami. WBTV has reached out to the NVGOP, but our messages have not been returned.

Las Vegas was one of the 8 finalists to host the 2016 Republican National Convention but withdrew the bid during the selection process.

According to source, the third choice would likely be Dallas or San Antonio but both cities have told WBTV they did not place bids to host the convention.

San Antonio's city council met Thursday afternoon and reportedly came to a consensus not to pursue the convention. There was not a formal vote.

"The City Council received a complete briefing on the requirements to host the Republican National Convention. I will share that the City Council, as a whole, doesn't feel that a bid for the RNC is worth it," mayor Ron Nirenberg said Thursday. "There's a reason that San Antonio has not pursued a political convention for the past 20 years and why so few cities seem interested in this convention."

An official with the San Antonio Mayor's Office said the city received an initial request to submit a bid in February, but the mayor didn't learn about the request until late March during a meeting of business and civic leaders.

"At that time, I was informed that the Republican National Committee was interested in San Antonio as a possible location for its 2020 convention," Mayor Ron Nirenberg wrote to the council. "I was prepared to inform City Council about this opportunity during its executive session on March 28. However, prior to that date, I was informed that the GOP opted not to pursue a bid from San Antonio."

He learned last week that the GOP "has renewed its interest in San Antonio, and is now actively seeking a convention bid." The council later voted not to pursue.

President Donald Trump's re-election campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has been pushing for the city to host the event.

San Antonio has previously bid to host a convention but has never been selected.

Dallas tourism officials said they were asked to submit a bid to host the 2020 convention and looked over the request multiple times.

"Dallas took a hard look at hosting the RNC – twice – but we eventually determined that we could not meet all of the requirements, Stephanie Faulk with told WBTV Friday morning. "So we did not place a bid."

WBTV has reached out to the Texas Republican Party to see if the state party spoke to the site selection committee about Dallas or San Antonio hosting the convention.?

The push for Charlotte

WBTV reached out to North Carolina Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse, who is part of the meetings in Miami, who says he and Chairman Robin Hayes spoke informally with individual members of the 2020 RNC site selection committee.

North Carolina National Committeewoman, Dr. Ada Fisher, was also at the meeting and informally pitched Trump's growing support in the African American community as a reason to come to North Carolina.

Chairman Hayes and Woodhouse confirmed that the feedback on the Charlotte bid was very strong and all positive.

Site selection committee members said that the Charlotte bid was extremely competitive and several members noted the strong bipartisan community support of Charlotte's bid "spoke volumes."

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, a Democrat, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney were given kudos by site selection committee members, saying they were impressed with the pitch from Charlotte's city leadership, according to Woodhouse.

Chairman Hayes is working to put together more than $50 million in private financing for the convention from business and community leaders. According to the NCGOP, the effort is off to a promising start, but much more work needs to be done. ?

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