JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s expected the world will find out next week if Jacksonville will host all or part of the Republican National Convention.
Republican leaders were meeting Monday and will make a final decision on the convention that was slated for August in Charlotte.
As reported last week, Jacksonville is on the shortlist and several sources told News4Jax that the city is at the top.
It would be a first, a political convention held in different cities. News4Jax Political Analyst Rick Mullaney of JU’s Public Policy Institute said that would be historic.
“President Trump could give his acceptance speech in one city, maybe Jacksonville, and some of the preliminary events, some of the nominating speeches, could be in other cities, in one or more cities, and that might be a model for the future,” he said.
News4Jax has been told there has been a discussion with Mayor Lenny Curry’s staff and others about that possibility. For some, like a group of Jacksonville pastors who discussed the recent protests in Jacksonville during a Monday press conference, the fact that moving the RNC to Jacksonville has been discussed and not made public is bothersome to them.
“To have conversations with the powers that be and not have a conversation with the people that be, that is not right,” said Dr. Gary Williams, Pastor at Hopewell Baptist Church.
And it’s the possibility of protests that have some concerned.
News4Jax Crime and Safety expert Ken Jefferson, who was a police officer for more than 20 years, said the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office would get help, both local and national.
“These conventions always draw protesters,” Jefferson said. “Most of the time they are peaceful protesters with signs and chanting and cheering and things like that. For this particular type of protest, there’s not very much marching going on, so they can contain it a little bit better but JSO is going to have a lot of help with that.”
But the overall picture — the convention could mean a lot for Jacksonville, both pro and con.
“Many positives for Jacksonville. It’s a chance to profile and showcase the city, but make no mistake, the unique circumstances has made it possible for Jacksonville also carry with unique challenges,” Mullaney said. “There are two big challenges, one is COVID-19, making sure that we are safe, the other is the protest because the conventions this year are likely sites for protest.”
VisitJax had no comment on Monday and News4Jax has not heard back from the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce or the RNC.
News4Jax expects an announcement from city leaders next week on the RNC’s potential move to Jacksonville.