By JONATHAN MATTISE – Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — The Nashville metro council has likely dealt a final blow to proponents of bringing the 2024 Republican National Convention to the city, leaving Milwaukee the almost certain winner to host the GOP’s biggest party.
The council of the trusty Democratic city in a Republican southern state voted Tuesday night to pass a bill that would have drafted a draft agreement to host the event. In the 40-member council, 10 members voted in favor of the convention and 22 against.
The RNC’s roster panel last month recommended that Milwaukee host the event after the Nashville City Council rescinded its proposed agreement to host the presidential nomination convention. A revived push for Nashville fared no better.
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Milwaukee is also a Democratic stronghold, but despite some mixed feelings, it approved a similar framework in June that is going through the logistics of hosting it there.
Whether and how Tennessee’s Republican lawmakers are targeting Nashville in response to the RNC’s rejection remains to be seen.
GOP House Speaker Cameron Sexton on Wednesday dismissed the city’s leadership as “the most progressive, liberal council in America” for voting down the convention, but said any “decisions on metro Nashville” could wait until the next legislative session begins in January. . He said he “will be sure that there will be sufficient discussions on this matter.”
Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally said the vote shows Nashville’s leaders “don’t want to serve as ambassadors for our state.” Republican government spokesman Bill Lee Casey Black said the council vote was a “real shame” and called the convention a “great economic opportunity.”
Nashville Mayor John Cooper and others expressed concerns about security, the economic consideration of having to close the bustling downtown area for the most part except for convention activities, and the implications of tying up city resources for the event.
Some progressive leaders went further, arguing that hosting the mass Republican rally would be contrary to the city’s values. Several councilors wrote an open letter to GOP Chairman Scott Golden in June asking whether Tennessee Republicans intend to remain “outwardly hostile” to Nashville’s efforts to be a welcoming economic engine for the state and simultaneously manage the enormous growth of the city.
Republicans divided the city into three districts that transitioned into rural areas in hopes of turning what was a Democratic seat; passed a near-complete ban that forced the city’s Planned Parenthood clinic to stop offering abortions; and imposed many laws targeting the city, including a school voucher program that applies in only two areas that are both Democratic, Nashville and Memphis’ Shelby County.
Councilor Robert Swope, who sponsored the GOP convention’s proposal, asked Tuesday which groups the city might be able to reject next.
“The real and current danger of not supporting this regulation is the international damage that saying ‘no’ will do to Nashville’s great, welcoming and inclusive reputation,” Swope said.
For two decades, Republicans have placed their nominating convention in the swing states – North Carolina, Ohio and Florida. Trump won his presidential election decisively in Tennessee. He narrowly won Wisconsin in 2016, but lost by an almost identical margin to Biden in 2020.
Milwaukee hosted the Democrats’ 2020 convention, but the coronavirus pandemic forced that meeting to be held almost entirely online, and Joe Biden accepted the nomination in Delaware.
Wisconsin could determine who wins in 2024, while Tennessee has not supported a Democrat for president since 1996.
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