Republicans look toward 2020 convention in Charlotte

U.S. Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump and Vice-Presidential Nominee Indiana Governor Mike Pence wave to supporters at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

Raleigh — Republicans on Friday voted to hold their 2020 presidential nominating convention in Charlotte, making North Carolina the road to President Donald Trump’s re-election.

As a Southern swing state, North Carolina is critical to Trump’s chances of seeing a second term in the White House and has been a highly coveted prize for both the Republican and Democratic parties in recent elections.

Democrat Barack Obama won the state’s 15 electoral votes in 2008, but Republicans have captured the state in the last two presidential elections. Charlotte hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2012, the same year that Obama lost the state to Republican Mitt Romney. Trump won here in 2016.

The Republican National Committee, which has been holding its summer meeting in Austin, Texas, unanimously approved Charlotte’s bid on Friday.

“We’re going to Charlotte,” RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said after the vote, adding that she expects Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to be formally nominated for a second term at the convention.

Trump has already formed a re-election campaign committee, which as of June 30 had $33 million in its coffers, according to federal election records. Trump held a campaign fundraiser in October at the Greensboro home of donor Louis DeJoy, the former CEO of New Breed Logistics.

The party’s 2016 nominating convention in Cleveland was estimated to have generated $188 million in economic benefit, according to the event host committee.

But Trump may also bring Charlotte hordes of protesters. Charlotte’s city council narrowly voted to approve the convention bid by a single vote after a public meeting in which about 100 residents testified.

“It’s a big day for our city,” said Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, who attended the vote. Lyles, a Democrat, faced opposition from her own party in trying to secure the convention for Charlotte.

“Gov. (Roy) Cooper just came out of his cave and showed some support but was remaining silent for the past several weeks while the poor democratic mayor Vi Lyles, who I like an awful lot, was kinda all by herself trying to get six votes out of 11 votes to get approval from the Democratic city council for this convention,” said former Gov. Pat McCrory this week on WPTF.

During last week’s debate, some of the more left-leaning members of the Charlotte City Council alluded to plans to protest during the RNC gathering.

“We are going to do everything we can to make sure we have a good constructive dialogue in North Carolina,” said NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse on WPTF radio this week. “Security is something that the professionals have to deal with and are very, very good at dealing with it when it comes to such planned events — I am not overly concerned about it at all.”

The 2020 convention is expected to bring more than $100 million in economic impact to the Queen City.

“The convention will be special in North Carolina,” said Woodhouse.

“I’ll be telling the delegates sort of informally, ‘Go ahead and start thinking about extending your vacation. Once you’re done with the convention, go to Asheville and visit the Biltmore House, go to Pinehurst and play golf, go to the coast, spend a few more days with us.’ We want to really foster this important economic opportunity,” Woodhouse added.

The Democrats have not picked a city for their 2020 convention yet, but the party has narrowed the field to Houston, Milwaukee or Miami Beach, Fla. ]

Reuters News Service contributed to this report.