Politics & Government

As Charlotte debates RNC, Nevada GOP chair says, 'I know Vegas could do it better'

Charlotte's only competition for the Republican National Convention is Las Vegas.
Charlotte's only competition for the Republican National Convention is Las Vegas. AP FILE PHOTO

As a second Charlotte council member said he would not support the city hosting the 2020 Republican National Convention, the leader of the Las Vegas bid said that city and state both back bringing the GOP to the gambling mecca.

Las Vegas and Charlotte are the only cities bidding to host the convention, and insiders believe the Republican National Committee will make a decision at its summer meeting in Austin next week.

"I have the biggest Democrat in the world in my state — former Senator Harry Reid — and he has not made a comment about it," said Michael McDonald, the chair of the Nevada GOP. "(Democrats) have not mentioned anything about it. They realize what this would mean for the city and the state."

McDonald has been leading the Las Vegas bid this spring and summer.

Though Democrats haven't been vocal in opposing the Nevada bid, Democrats and independents haven't been fully supportive either. The city of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority are not part of the bid. The authority said its convention center is already booked for the time of the convention, likely July or August 2020.

In Charlotte, Democratic Mayor Vi Lyles and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority support hosting the RNC.

McDonald said he doesn't have a site lined up for the convention, but he said Monday he believes a new football stadium under construction for the Oakland Raiders — who are moving to Las Vegas — is the best venue. That stadium is expected to be finished in the summer of 2020, around the time of the convention.

"It will be finished ahead of schedule," McDonald said.

Charlotte would hold the convention in the Spectrum Center, which also hosted the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

A group of Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority officials will attend the RNC's meeting next week in Austin. CRVA spokesperson Laura White said the tourism officials will be there to answer any questions the GOP's site selection committee might have.

The city of Charlotte has also been planning to send a delegation, including Lyles.

Charlotte officials believe privately that they are the front-runner for the convention, but some Democrats have been complaining about the city hosting the convention, which is expected to nominate Donald Trump for a second term.

Democratic council member LaWana Mayfield has said she would vote against the convention. Over the weekend, Democrat Justin Harlow said he would also be a "no" vote.

‪"I will not support the bid for the #RNC2020 in CLT," Harlow wrote on Facebook. "The only thing there is to be gained is money (economic impact) and too much to possibly be lost. I value differences in thought, but I’m not going to ignore the fact that this would not be a 'convention as usual.' "

Democratic council member Braxton Winston has questioned whether the city should host the RNC and said last week the city needs more discussion with residents about hosting the GOP.

The Young Democrats of North Carolina and Young Democrats of Mecklenburg County also said the city should reject the convention. Democratic state Rep. John Autry, a former Charlotte council member, said the city should "heavily consider the implications and unintended consequences of hosting the RNC."

McDonald said Las Vegas would be the best choice for the GOP but did not criticize Charlotte officials for their concerns.

"I get it," he said. "We have seen the division throughout the county. It's something we have seen here and there."

McDonald said he will attend the GOP's meeting in Austin.

"I visited Charlotte last month, and I love Charlotte," he said. "But I know Vegas could do it better. "

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs