RNC 'tentatively settled’ on Jacksonville, Washington Post reports

Staff Writer
Walton Sun
Walton Sun

At least some of this year’s Republican National Convention will take place in Jacksonville, sources told The Washington Post.

The news came late Tuesday night, following a historic day where Mayor Lenny Curry announced confederate statues were coming down and led a protest alongside Jacksonville Jaguars’ Leonard Fournette and JSO Sheriff Mike Williams.

According to The Washington Post, details are still being nailed down but Republicans “tentatively settled” on Jacksonville to house the convention’s premier festivities.

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The newspaper added that aides are “scrambling” to figure out if the city has enough hotel rooms to accommodate the event and that Republican officials were in Jacksonville Monday looking at the area. As of Tuesday, all of the city’s prominent hotels had RNC dates blocked out, First Coast News, our news partner, reported.

As rumors of the RNC coming to Jacksonville loomed over the First Coast, critics asked the mayor to avert.

“NO RNC,” was a chant that made regular rotations during Tuesday’s protest.

In an interview Tuesday with the Times-Union, Jacksonville NAACP Branch President Isaiah Rumlin warned that the RNC coming to Jacksonville would discredit the progress Curry’s administration made just that day.

“Trump doesn’t need to come to Jacksonville. We don’t need him here,” Rumlin said. “Although the statues are gone, that’s just symbolic. Racism is still going on.”

As noted by the Times-Union, the convention will fall on the 60th anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday — where more than 200 Ku Klux Klan and White Citizens Council members attacked black people participating in lunch counter sit-in demonstrations.

According to the Washington Post, the convention’s routine meeting portions would take place in Charlotte, North Carolina. But the move to seek a second location for the higher profile events — including President Donald Trump’s speech — is driven by Trump’s desire to address a large crowd.

North Carolina declined to pack its arena for the convention, citing coronavirus concerns.

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The unusual decision to seek an alternative location for the convention’s marquee events — including speeches by President Trump and others — stems from Trump’s desire to accept his party’s nomination before an enormous crowd.

"You're bringing 20,000 to 50,000 additional people to your city in [from] areas where they may have been not as successful as Jacksonville has been in flattening the curve,“ Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told First Coast News on Tuesday when asked about the convention coming to Jacksonville.

Tampa hosted the RNC in 2012. Buckhorn called the RNC coming to Jacksonville a “formula for disaster.”

“You are bringing folks with this virus, some of whom don't even know they're carriers of this virus, and putting them inside an indoor arena,” he added. “Heck, they don't want people singing in church for fear the virus will spread. What do you think a convention is going to do with all the yelling and all the contact?"

Mayor Curry — a former Florida Republican Party Chairman — last tweeted about the RNC on June 2, adding that Jacksonville “welcomes the opportunity.”

Dean Black, the Duval County Republican chairman, told the Washington Post that Curry “has been actively and energetically pursuing this convention.”

Still, this news comes amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in Florida with Duval County up to 1,824 confirmed cases and 54 deaths related to the virus.

The city is still under an emergency order where businesses are limited in how they can operate.

Rumlin said the convention coming here with Curry’s encouragement would undermine the message the mayor gave on Tuesday — that he’s listening to his constituents.

“We know how divisive the president is,” Rumlin said. “And should he come here, we’re going to condemn that. We have too many problems in this city we’re trying to resolve to be confronted with the president coming here.”

Emily Bloch: (904) 359-4083