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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Democrats Have Postponed Their Convention. What Does That Mean For Charlotte's RNC?

Steve Harrison/WFAE
The Republican National Committee is planning to hold its convention in Charlotte, as scheduled, on Aug. 24.

The Democratic National Committee said Thursday that it has postponed its national convention in Milwaukee by a month until August 17 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Democratic National Convention was originally scheduled for July 13-16.

What does that mean for the Republican National Convention in Charlotte?

Here are some scenarios as to what might happen this spring and summer – and what that means for the city and the RNC.

National Republicans are still planning to hold their convention in Charlotte Aug. 24-27 at the Spectrum Center, and no final decision is expected until early July.

As of today, the RNC couldn’t be held if nothing changes because of orders by Mecklenburg Health Director Gibbie Harris and Gov. Roy Cooper that limit the size gatherings to 10 people.

Assuming The Stay-At-Home Orders Are Lifted, Will The RNC Be Held?

If the Democrats have their convention on Aug. 17, then it’s almost a sure thing that the RNC will come to Charlotte. 

The City Council might have concerns about bringing tens of thousands of people to the city, but the city’s contract with the Republican National Committee doesn’t allow it to back out of hosting – even if there is a pandemic.

What Happens If The Democrats Cancel Their Convention?

If the Democrats cancel the DNC – even after moving it back a month – there would be tremendous political pressure for President Trump to do the same. But if there is no stay-at-home order and limit on the size of gatherings, the RNC can still come.

Can The GOP Ask For A Delay, Like The Democrats Did?

Republicans can – but the City Council has to agree. The contract is to hold the convention from Aug. 24-27 – and there are no backup dates.

“We’ll have to see how everything plays out, but I don’t believe that’s something that could be unilaterally be done,” Charlotte city attorney Patrick Baker said. “And for no other reason than for contractual arrangements that some of these other facilities may have going on as well.”

Because the Hornets don’t begin play until October under their current schedule, there would likely be time for a mid-September RNC. But the current NBA season has been suspended amid the pandemic, and that schedule could change if the league attempts to squeeze in a shortened version of season in the summer.

And the City Council almost rejected hosting the RNC in a 6-5 vote in 2018.

Council member Julie Eiselt, who voted to host, said it would be a hard decision to agree to a delay.

“So the first question would be for the host committee – what’s the latest date that you can make up your mind?” Eiselt said. “And then, I think it just depends on where we are at that point and if we are where we are now, then you have to say, is that worth the risk?”

Baker said he expects the RNC to make a decision by early July.

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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.