The site selection committee for the Republican National Committee has chosen Charlotte as its host city for its 2020 national convention, according to multiple media reports.
One source familiar with the deliberations tells WFAE the decision was unanimous. The selection is an informal decision — hinting that Charlotte will most likely beat out a competing bid from Las Vegas. The RNC is expected to formally approve the Queen City this week at its summer meetings in Austin, Texas.
There has been no official comment from the City of Charlotte.
Charlotte’s bid has been a controversial topic among city leadership. After more than two hours of heated public comment and a debate that Mayor Vi Lyles called one of the most difficult of her career, the council voted 6-5 Monday in support of the bid.
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 before the vote.
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.
Bokhari said the convention contract was too good to turn down. He said it even had an exit clause, the first ever offered to a host city.
“On the city side, it's the best deal that's ever been crafted. On the community side, the jobs, the business and the neighborhoods are going to get the influx of economic investment and the conversations to move our city forward,” Bokhari said.
Mayor 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 the vote, Lyles 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. 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,” Lyles said.
Members of the city’s hospitality industry spoke out in support of the bid during the public comments section. President of the Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance Mohammad Jenatian agreed with the Mayor, and said the convention will bring economic benefits similar to those gained when Charlotte hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2012.
“The DNC validated our city as a major convention destination, and we're still benefiting from those conventions,” Jenatian said.
Lyles will be headed to Austin tomorrow with fellow council members Bokhari, Driggs, Mitchell and Eiselt.