The RNC Convention Leaves (and Returns to) Charlotte

The RNC Convention Leaves (and Returns to) Charlotte

The Republican National Convention (RNC) will take place in Charlotte from Monday, Aug. 24, to Thursday, Aug. 27. According to Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump will be accepting the RNC’s re-nomination from Charlotte. That’s where the RNC scheduled the convention more than two years ago. But the road from Charlotte to, well, Charlotte hasn’t been a straight one.

July 2018: the Convention Chooses Charlotte

On July 18, 2018, the RNC voted unanimously to host the 2020 convention in the Queen City. At the time, Republican Party leaders anticipated their time in Charlotte. “I am thrilled to announce Charlotte as the official host city for the 2020 Republican National Convention,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said at the time. “We look forward to seeing the Queen City take center stage….”

May 2020: the RNC Hesitates

Fast forward 22 months, and the Republican Party started singing a different tune. On May 25, 2020, Memorial Day, President Trump tweeted that, although he “love[s] the Great State of North Carolina,” he would pull the RNC convention from Charlotte unless Governor Roy Cooper“allowed full attendance in the Arena” where he would give his acceptance speech. For context, the CDC had reported nearly 25,000 new COVID-19 cases that day.

June 2020: the Convention Leaves Charlotte

A week later, on June 2, 2020, President Trump moved the convention from Charlotte. In another tweet he announced that, without a full-arena promise from Gov. Cooper, he was pulling the RNC convention—and “hundreds of millions of dollars, and jobs”—from North Carolina. At that point, the CDC still reported less than a third of the COVID-19 cases it’s reporting now.

Several days later, on June 11, 2020, the RNC identified Jacksonville, Florida, as the host city instead. RNC Chairwoman McDaniel—previously “thrilled” to announce Charlotte as the host city—was also “thrilled to celebrate this momentous occasion in the great city of Jacksonville,” she said. “We look forward to bringing this great celebration and economic boon to the Sunshine State in just a few short months,” she said.

July 2020: the RNC Returns

A month later, on July 16, 2020, reports started surfacing that the Jacksonville convention would give only a scaled-back version. Nevertheless, McDaniel emphasized that Floridians had nothing to worry about. “I want to make clear that we still intend to host a fantastic convention celebration in Jacksonville,” she said. “We can gather and put on a top-notch event … while also doing so in a safe and responsible manner.” Yet, just one week later on July 23, 2020, President Trump announced that the Republican Party would be pulling the convention from Florida altogether.

Earlier this week, Vice President Pence completed the circle-back to Charlotte when he confirmed to reporters that the RNC will, in fact, take place in Charlotte. “It’s just one more way that we can express our gratitude to the great people of this state,” he told reporters.

The Queen City will need to wait on the convention’s impact.

Republicans say their decision to return to Charlotte is a way they “can express [their] gratitude to” North Carolina. For now, we can’t yet measure their gratitude in terms of jobs in Charlotte and visibility in the state. Though the president initially tweeted about an influx of convention-related jobs, exactly what Charlotte should expect for any job-seekers will depend on the scale of the convention.

How many people will attend? How regularly will convention staff clean the arena’s seating? Answers to these questions, likely incoming from the RNC or Charlotte officials, should determine how many hired hands will join the event, and which positions (whether planners, organizers or sanitation workers) will become the most-needed roles.