Illinois’ top Democrats have put together an organized effort to consider pitching Chicago to national party leaders as the site for the 2024 Democratic presidential nominating convention, officials said Wednesday.
The effort is being led by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who is a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. The potential bid is also backed by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and state Democratic Chair and U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly as part of a coalition with Chicago business, civic and labor leaders.
The coalition has retained Rise Strategy Group to work on the potential bid. Tarrah Cooper Wright, a press secretary to former Mayor Rahm Emanuel who also worked on the 2012 NATO Summit and other high-profile city events, is founder and CEO of the firm and confirmed Chicago’s efforts to be host city.
“From previous Democratic conventions to the NATO Summit and annual large-scale events like the Air & Water Show, Chicago has a track record of successfully hosting large-scale events and has the leadership required to make a convention a success,” Wright said in a statement.
“Our city and state — a vibrant and diverse metropolis, thriving suburbs and strong rural communities — offer proof that our party’s policies deliver for American families, and a convention would provide a boost to the local economy,” she said.
Wright said a decision on whether to make a formal response to the DNC’s request for proposals from host cities will be made “in the near future.”
Chicago last hosted a national political convention in 1996, using the United Center as the base for a Democratic gathering that nominated Bill Clinton for a second presidential term. Before the 1996 convention, the 1968 Democratic convention held in Chicago was the last national political convention held in town and it resulted in Chicago police and protesters violently clashing in the streets, dealing a blow to the city’s reputation. Prior to 1968, Chicago had a long history of being a host city.
The news that Chicago was considering a potential bid to host the convention was first reported by NBC News.
But selecting Chicago to hold the 2024 event, with its dominance by Democrats at the city and state level, would run counter to more recent efforts by Democrats and Republicans to host their showcase presidential nominating conventions in cities in swing states that could affect the national election.
The last time the national political conventions were held in nonpresidential battleground states was in 2004 when Republicans met in New York and Democrats gathered in Boston, where they heard a keynote speech delivered by then-U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama. The speech was widely regarded as helping propel the Illinois senator to the presidency.
Democrats have given cities until October to express whether they will submit a bid to host their convention, with Las Vegas and Nashville also under consideration. Republicans, who have moved more quickly on the selection process, have reportedly settled on Milwaukee and Nashville as convention finalists.
Milwaukee was the host of the 2020 Democratic convention that was drastically scaled back due to the pandemic. Party officials are looking at the chance to return to a more traditional convention in 2024, though they may borrow elements from two years ago, such as satellite convention events in other cities, DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison has said.
Pritzker touted Chicago’s potential as a host city to Harrison during a visit last fall. And a convention could provide major economic benefits to a host city, with Harrison noting in the past that economic activity of between $150 million and $200 million during non-pandemic times.
But as much as Democrats in Illinois want to showcase Chicago as an example of Democratic leadership, the city also will have to overcome national perceptions of crime and violence. Republicans locally and nationally have used the issue of outbreaks of violent crime to accuse Democrats of adopting a soft-on-crime posture.
©2022 Chicago Tribune. Visit chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.