The Republican National Committee has officially chosen Charlotte as its host city for its 2020 national convention today in Austin, Texas.
"We could not be more excited," said North Carolina GOP chairman Robin Hayes in a statement. "Today's announcement is a testament to the strong leadership in Charlotte that has followed a long North Carolina tradition of putting the needs and opportunities of our people before politics. We pledge to provide Republicans with the convention they expect, the state with the economic development it needs, the world with a true picture of the greatness of North Carolina, and our citizens with a robust but respectful political debate that shows the goodness of North Carolina."
Charlotte’s successful bid for the 2020 convention followed a contentious public hearing and debate Monday. The city council eventually voted 6-5 in support of the bid. Mayor Vi Lyles struck a bipartisan tone after Friday's announcement.
"I believe this convention conveys a positive message supporting our city’s belief in acceptance and inclusion," Lyles wrote on Twitter. "This is our opportunity to, once again, put Charlotte in the international spotlight to demonstrate the democratic process and two-party system that we deeply value."
Dissenting council members criticized the convention and the prospect of Charlotte being associated with President Donald J. Trump. Democrat Justin Harlow was one of the members who voted against it.
“I’d no sooner bring Donald Trump and the RNC to Charlotte, to the home that I chose, and love, where my wife and I are raising our black son, any sooner than I would support a Klan rally in this city,” Harlow said.
Harlow was joined in his opposition by fellow Democrats LaWana Mayfield, Dimple Ajmera, Braxton Winston and Matt Newton.
But the six yes votes, from Democrats James Mitchell Jr., Greg Phipps, Julie Eiselt and Larken Egleston, and the council's two Republicans — Ed Driggs and Tariq Bokhari, won out.
Lyles was joined by council members Bokhari, Driggs, Mitchell and Eiselt at today’s RNC meetings in Texas. WSOC-TV reported that Mitchell raised his fist in celebration and hugged Driggs after the announcement.
Lyles was a driving force behind the city leadership’s support, a decision she was greatly criticized for by members of her own party. Speaking after Monday’s vote, she said the economic benefits for the city outweighed opposition to the current administration.
“I want you to know that hosting the RNC is not an endorsement of the administration, the current administration,” Lyles said. “I believe that hosting the Republican convention, the RNC, is about what opportunities we can make of it after this very, very difficult time of deliberation.”