The Democratic Party has chosen Chicago to host its 2024 national convention, where they will gather to nominate their presidential candidate.
The event is scheduled to take place from 19th August to 22nd August 2024 at the United Center and McCormick Place Convention Center.
Chicago came out on top in the competition against Atlanta and New York City, giving Illinois politicians a huge win. This was largely attributed to the city’s roots in progressive politics and its strategic positioning as a Midwestern hub for political battlegrounds.
“It’s a testament to Chicago and Illinois’s priorities aligning with Joe Biden and the Democratic Party the past several decades. Abortion is legal and protected, assault weapons were recently banned, and Chicago is one of the strongest union towns in the country. We’re the complete package,” said Illinois Democratic strategist Tom Bowen.
Multiple Democrats who conversed with ABC News stated that Chicago fits the party’s main criteria in terms of policy, politics, and logistics.
The city — home to 2.7 million people — is a travel hub and, having already hosted nominating conventions for both parties, has the existing infrastructure to absorb the tsunami of attendees.
Illinois is situated in an important region in terms of Democratic politics, as the state is situated near Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin – states which are at the core of Biden’s re-election plans. Furthermore, it’s also a modern and progressive city located in a blue state. Indeed, it will be critical to Biden’s path to victory.
“Illinois is the anchor of the blue wall states in the Midwest and the perfect place to springboard the reelection campaign’s work in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan,” Bowen said.
The publicity from the convention could extend to neighboring states and target swing voters who don’t reside in Illinois. This could expand the reach and impact of the event.
Last week’s election of Brandon Johnson as mayor-elect of Chicago highlighted the city’s progressive leanings against a more moderate Democratic contender with ties to conservative groups. The ballot results underlined the friendly politics of the Windy City.
The Democratic Party’s choice to hold their policy powwow in Illinois was a smart one as it enabled them to avoid any clashes with a state’s conservative government. Plus, Biden and Illinois Governor Pritzker largely share the same views and stand united on economic and social topics such as abortion. Unlike Atlanta, the city has a substantial union presence in hotels, providing its employees with much-needed benefits and protections.
Apart from his immense wealth and extensive fundraising network, Gov. Pritzker also pledged to national Democrats that there would be no financial liabilities incurred if the convention were to take place in Chicago. This provided the cherry on top of a very tempting proposition.
“It’s no secret that the Midwest is key to holding the White House and electing Democrats up and down the ticket in 2024. Now, after all, Chicago and the entire Midwest looks like America and is the capitol at the heart of the nation,” Pritzker said in a victory lap on Tuesday.
“Illinois is home to a bustling metropolis, a strong rural tradition, thriving suburbs, not to mention a long-standing history rooted in civil rights and workers’ rights and reproductive rights,” he added.
Despite the fact that picking Chicago didn’t ignite any feuds between New York and Atlanta, people from both cities were taken aback by the decision. If either of them had been chosen instead, both would have gained significantly in terms of attention and economy.
“The city [New York City] would have received a significant benefit from the convention monetarily, from a tax perspective and from an image perspective,” said New York City-based Democratic Hank Sheinkopf, referencing ongoing concerns about crime. “The best cure for crime is people walking around, people believing there is no crime, that it’s overrated, [and] it’s not as bad as people think.”
Democrats in Atlanta argued that the city’s integral role in helping the party win majorities in both Houses of Congress and eventually the White House should have been enough to outweigh any concerns about labor unions’ smaller presence compared to Chicago.
“Name the state that gave you the Senate, and a margin this time: Georgia. Name the state that put 2020 out of reach for Trump: Georgia. Shouldn’t the Democrats in those states see the Democratic convention in their state? We can’t always say we can only have conventions in states that only have x-number of labor hotels,” said Jarrod Loadholt, a partner in the Ice Miller law firm’s public affairs branch who lives in Georgia.
“We couldn’t compete financially. There’s no shame in that,” said one Georgia Democratic strategist, referencing Pritzker’s financial assurances.
“We made a very good presentation. They took us seriously. And the Biden administration has someone in Georgia every week, so they are certainly not ignoring us. We are grateful to them. We look forward to continue working for them and reelecting them. There is zero anger and zero bitterness,” the strategist added.
Although President Biden has yet to declare his intent to run for re-election, his team has been traveling around the nation to highlight his two-year accomplishments, such as the bipartisan infrastructure bill and plans for strengthening the semiconductor industry within the U.S.
“The period leading up to and through the convention also creates a unique opportunity to engage people throughout the region and to highlight the positive impact of Biden-Harris economic policies like the Infrastructure Act,” said Karen Finney, a former DNC official and a Democratic strategist with ties to the White House.
Other than Joe Biden, Marianne Williamson and Robert F. Kennedy Jr are the two other contenders for the presidential seat. While Williamson is an author, Kennedy is a well-known attorney and anti-vaccine activist. He plans to declare his candidacy on April 19th.
Although money and logistics favored Chicago, I think Atlanta would have been a better pick. It would have given Democrats a chance to strengthen their brand among Southerners and give them a boost in a swing state.
It’s no surprise the 2024 Republican National Convention will be held in Milwaukee – a blue-collar city in a swing state that could prove vital in a close presidential election. In fact, Wisconsin might be the most competitive state in the country for presidential elections. In 2016, Republican Donald Trump carried the state by 0.77 percent (22,748 votes) before losing the state to Democrat Joe Biden in 2020 by just 0.63 percent (20,682 votes).
The attention Republicans will give to Wisconsin via its convention will likely give its candidate a boost there. How much, we don’t know. However, given Biden’s thin margin of victory there in 2020 it could be enough to carry the state.
Why didn’t Democrats think more strategically?
Atlanta, Pheonix, or Charlotte, from a purely strategic election standpoint, may have made more sense.