Dem-Friendly Charlotte’s 2020 RNC Bid Ignites Heated Local Debate

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call Group

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Business leaders lined up Monday to urge a North Carolina city council to vote to host the 2020 Republican National Convention, while opponents of the idea cited everything from Trump administration policies to the possibility of violence if the convention is invited.

The Charlotte City Council heard from more than 100 speakers in slightly more than two hours in council chambers. The council was slated to hear from 132 speakers, but some didn’t appear when called.

Some opponents of the bid carried green-and-white signs into council chambers which read “No RNC In CLT. #defendcharlotte”.

Published reports suggest Charlotte is favored to land the convention.

Many pro-convention speakers represented the hotel industry, among them Dan Hooks, who said the council should look past political rhetoric and see what’s good for the city.

Hooks said to reject the RNC would be to reverse the good done by hosting the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

Other businesspeople said hosting the convention would mean jobs and paychecks for residents who would work extra hours during the week of the convention. Some mentioned that the city would be showcased to the nation by hosting the convention.

Brenda Jackson-Little said the RNC would be “a tremendous economic boon for the region.”

Former city councilman Kenny Smith urged support for the bid.

“A “no” vote only hurts the city you have sworn to represent,” Smith said. “Cast aside politics.”

Some supporters held white sheets of paper with the words “2020 RNC Supporter” printer on them.

One man stood outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center holding a big white flag with the red, white and blue GOP logo on it.

Opponents of the bid were more passionate in their remarks to the council.

Local resident Ray McKinnon contrasted Trump to former President Barack Obama in voicing opposition.

“President Obama did not speak about people the way this president does,” McKinnon said. “Please vote no.”

A woman who followed McKinnon to the podium urged the council to reject the convention because Trump criticized NBA star and Charlotte native Steph Curry.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles has championed the bid, saying in a recent newspaper column that it’s a chance for the city to show its inclusiveness at a time when the nation is at “a tipping point of incivility.”

Lyles is the city’s first black female mayor.

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