Milwaukee Formally Submits Bid to Host Republican National Convention

Mayor Tom Barrett hopes Milwaukee will land both the Republican and Democratic conventions in 2024.

Milwaukee has officially thrown its hat into the ring to host the 2024 Republican National Convention.

“Milwaukee is ready, eager and more than willing to host a world-class event for the Republicans,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett stated in a letter to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

Barrett drafted the letter to reiterate what he previously expressed in a face-to-face meeting with McDaniel.

“As a lifelong advocate for our city, I can say that Milwaukee is known for the character of its residents — hardworking, honest, respectful, inclusive, and diverse,” Barrett wrote. “We care about our neighbors and we welcome visitors. Our state is neither Red, nor Blue; we reflect the nation. And it is likely, again, that Wisconsin will be important in determining our country’s political future.”

The city has submitted a formal application to host the convention. In October, Barrett and officials from Visit Milwaukee, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, made a push for the city to host the convention, appearing before the Republican National Committee’s site-selection panel.


 

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Milwaukee is very familiar with the work necessary to prepare for a national political convention, Barrett stressed.

“Our robust business and strong hospitality communities are ready with facilities and hotel accommodations to fully meet the convention’s needs,” he stated in the letter.

The city will be especially well suited to host the convention in 2024 with a newly expanded Wisconsin Center convention space, located close to the Fiserv Forum, where the Republic National Convention’s main event would take place, Barrett noted.

“We invite you to select Milwaukee as the host for the 2024 Republican National Convention and allow our great city to showcase the globally important event with operational excellence and top-notch service that I guarantee,” he wrote.

In a media briefing with reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Barrett said Wisconsin’s role as an expected swing state in the 2024 presidential election bolsters its effort to host the convention.

Milwaukee’s robust roster of warm-weather activities is a benefit, too, he said.

“We are a very wonderful place to visit, I think all 12 months, but it doesn’t get much better than Wisconsin and Milwaukee in the summertime,” Barrett said. “We’re great hosts. I think it would be a great spot.”

Barrett added that he would like to see Milwaukee “run the table” and land the Republican and Democratic conventions in 2024.

“That’s going to take a lot of work, but I think it’d be great for our community,” Barrett said.

Milwaukee has been invited to submit a bid to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention. The city officially served as host of the 2020 DNC, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to shift to a mostly virtual format due to public health concerns. The shift in focus cheated the city out of a rare opportunity to showcase itself on a national stage and likely to an international audience. 

Aside from a few short speeches delivered each night at the Wisconsin Center by the state’s political leaders, an almost entirely virtual Democratic National Convention took place over four days in August 2020

The convention attracted few people and delivered little economic gain for the city, with Downtown nearly devoid of visitors and media. A full-fledged DNC had been projected to attract 50,000 people to Milwaukee and generate an economic impact of about $200 million.

The watered-down convention in Milwaukee brought in an estimated $3 million to the area economy.

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Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.