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After Greenville, City Council Members Grapple With Decision To Host Trump's Convention

City Council
Justin Harlow, who voted against hosting the 2020 RNC, said he wants the City Council to pass a resolution Monday rebuking President Trump for the Greenville rally.

A year ago, the Charlotte City Council voted 6-5 to host the 2020 Republican National Convention – as liberal activists implored them to reject it.

The controversial vote had mostly died down until Wednesday night in Greenville, when some in the crowd chanted "Send her back! Send her back!"

City Council member Justin Harlow – who voted against the RNC last year – says he will be working this weekend to prepare a resolution condemning the president’s attacks on U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and her three colleagues known as the Squad – as well as the crowd’s chant.

"We don’t do a lot of these resolutions, a lot of these official statements," Harlow said. "But in this type of scenario I think it’s very warranted. We’ve got to talk about what our values are, what we believe, and how we are totally and unequivocally against what this president has been spewing out."

Last year, Democrats Julie Eiselt, Larken Egleston, James Mitchell and Greg Phipps voted in favor of the RNC contract, along with the council’s two Republicans.

Democrat Braxton Winston, who opposed the RNC, said his feelings about hosting haven’t changed. As he did in 2018, Winston on Thursday called Trump "an avatar of white supremacy."

"And this is not about politics ,this is about doing what’s right versus wrong," he said.

But Winston isn’t sure the majority of council members will pass a resolution rebuking the president.

"I don’t think there is the political will," he said. "I haven’t heard from any of my colleagues who voted in the majority that they would do anything to change that. There was too much influence by business."

One of those yes votes – Phipps – said Thursday his vote a year ago was based on the money that the convention would bring the city. He said he might not vote for the convention if the council had a second vote now.

"If we had to do a vote over today … it’s not just in Greenville," Phipps said. "I think it could very well be a different outcome."

Eiselt, another yes vote last year, said in a statement that Charlotte is a "city that is inclusive, accepting and welcoming to all people, even to those with whom we disagree."

She then said, "However, the behavior of the president, and his supporters who chanted 'Send Her Back' ... was quite simply reprehensible. I hope members of the Republican Party who cherish the values that this county was founded upon will not remain silent."

Mayor Vi Lyles, who has championed brining the convention to Charlotte, has previously said she will not give a welcoming address.

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.