MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Milwaukee officials traveled to Washington DC to make their final pitch to host the Republican National Convention.
Top leaders from Milwaukee and Nashville met with the Republican National Committee site selection committee for about an hour on Tuesday, where the two cities touted what they had to offer. The trip comes after the panel and organizers visited each city last month.
The city of cream is fighting for another chance to land the big political event after hosting an almost entirely virtual Democratic National Convention in 2020, largely due to the pandemic.
Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson was part of the Milwaukee delegation that traveled to Washington on Tuesday. He’s confident Milwaukee will win the auction, saying, “We’re really in a great position to win this convention, and I think we will.”
Visit Milwaukee President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith said the meeting went well and was pleased with their presentation.
“We had a great team that was there and I think it went pretty well,” Williams-Smith said. “It’s an overwhelming experience to sit in a room with people who are going to help decide who is going to be the Republican Party’s nominee.”
Visit Milwaukee, members of the Milwaukee delegation, representatives from the city’s police department, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus all had the opportunity to speak.
Security, infrastructure and hotel capacity were among the competing topics discussed, Williams-Smith said.
Acting Mayor Johnson said, “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure they have a successful convention that brings hundreds of millions of dollars of economic impact to Milwaukee.”
Regardless of party, Acting Mayor Johnson said securing the convention will put money in the pockets of local businesses and benefit the entire city. “We have local government commitment, we have county government commitment, we have state government commitment. Everyone is on the same page.”
Milwaukee officials touted their 19,000 hotel rooms, the Fiserv Forum and a new, expanded Wisconsin Center. Nashville has never hosted a major political party convention, but has a popular downtown that draws visitors year-round and more than 15,000 hotel rooms.
Johnson and Priebus, who joined virtually, also spent time trying to convince the panel why Republicans should host in the battleground state against a safe Republican state.
“My job is to sell the city in terms of infrastructure, hotels and to sell what we see every day, but they [Johnson and Priebus] did a very good job of explaining the political reason why he should come to Milwaukee. »
UW-Madison political science professor Mike Wagner said while hospitality and security are big selling points, he thinks Wisconsin’s political landscape tops them all.
“Wisconsin is far more important in the outcome of the next presidential election than Tennessee,” Wagner said. “This is a state that Republicans want to reverse and really need to reverse if they want to be able to take back the White House.”
The stakes are sure to be high as Republicans seek to reclaim Wisconsin after a narrow loss to Joe Biden by an estimated 21,000 votes in 2020. Wisconsin was also the swing state in the 2016 cycle when Donald Trump has become the first Republican candidate to win the state since 1984.
Hosting the convention also brings many benefits to the state party, such as raising funds, resources and volunteers.
“It can really help the state party build and if a safe state is chosen, the benefit of that doesn’t really help,” Wagner said.