Viewpoint

Charlotte should make the Republican National Convention an offer it can't refuse

Some Democratic City Council members are questioning whether Charlotte should host the 2020 Republican National Convention.
Some Democratic City Council members are questioning whether Charlotte should host the 2020 Republican National Convention. AP

In response to "RNC 2020: The risks aren't worth it" (May 6 editorial):

Now is the time to bid for the Republican National Convention. The best time to get a deal is when there is no competition. In Las Vegas, local Republican party leaders are trying to make a bid without the support of their Convention and Visitors Authority. Good luck. How is Las Vegas going to come up with thousands of discounted hotel rooms if the hotel industry isn’t on board? And why would they set aside thousands of rooms for the RNC when they can sell them for full price to other tourists and business meetings?

And why would the Republicans want it there? Las Vegas withdrew its bid for the 2016 RNC after evangelicals documented 64 pages of escort services in its phone book. Granted, the Republican party seems less buttoned-down these days, but do they really want to give even more coverage to Stormy Daniels and peeing Russian prostitutes? If the RNC is in Las Vegas, the media coverage will be GOP delegates cavorting with the local exotics. What happens in Vegas may usually stay in Vegas, but not with 15,000 national and international reporters there.

For the sake of the RNC, Charlotte needs to embrace being boring. If the RNC is here, delegates will go to their caucus meetings, convention events and scheduled receptions. The media will cover the speakers on the platform, how beautiful uptown Charlotte is, and how friendly the residents are who continually bless their hearts (OK, they’ll really cover President Trump’s tweets). The RNC needs a partner who can pull off a convention to make them look good. We’ve proven that we can do it.

The Observer is correct that the Republicans need us more than we need them, and we need to use it to our advantage. Charlotte tends to give away the store when seeking suitors. But if Charlotte is the only city that has a bipartisan and public-private coalition from here to Raleigh and Columbia to back it, we have the leverage to get the RNC to accept terms that are favorable to us. Do they really need us to spend $70 million for their convention?

We did the 2012 DNC for half that — even including the generous assistance from Duke Energy. Since then, Congress gave the parties greater capacity to raise money for their conventions. If the RNC really thinks it needs $70 million, it has the ability to raise a chunk of it. Historically, the parties mostly paid for their own conventions. Charlotte has the opportunity to reset the balance of commitment between the cities and the national parties.

Much of the money raised by host committees comes from outside the city anyway and that’s good for us. Outside money pays our construction crews to renovate the arena, pays our hoteliers and caterers and pays gobs of overtime to our police force.

Charlotte is a city of business. So let’s make a business proposition to the RNC and get a good deal for Charlotte.

Heberlig and Leland are professors of political science and public administration at UNC Charlotte and co-authors of "American Cities and the Politics of Party Conventions." Email: Eric.S.Heberlig@uncc.edu and smleland@uncc.edu
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