JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s clear that prominent Republicans and many in Jacksonville’s business and hospitality industry are excited by the prospect that the Republican National Convention could be moved here. News4Jax has been told Jacksonville is the front-runner to at least host President Donald Trump’s acceptance speech.
Late Thursday, the I-TEAM found documents that 2020 Jacksonville Host Committee Inc. filed with Florida’s secretary of state two days ago. Its directors are Daniel Davis, head of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Michael Corrigan, head of Visit Jacksonville and Republican U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, who represents much of St. Johns, Flagler, Volusia and other counties North Central Florida counties.
But not everyone thinks thousand of people from all around the country coming to Jacksonville the last week of August is a good idea. It’s not just the crowds while coronavirus is still spreading, major political conventions often attract massive protests.
Mayor Lenny Curry has received calls, letters and emails expressing concern about the event being held in Jacksonville.
The head of the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP said the convention will tear the city apart
“Because of what is happening in this city at this particular time, they should encourage the president not to come here," NAACP President Isaiah Rumlin said Thursday. "With all of the rhetoric that he is going to bring especially as it relates to the protesting that has been going on here COVID-19 is going to be a problem for us.”
Republican City Councilman Sam Newby, who will be the next vice president of the council, said that is not the case. Newby believes the convention will bring millions of dollars into the city and he believes Jacksonville can handle the public health threat and the protests that will come with a convention
“Most of the people in Jacksonville nave done a peaceful protest," Newby said. "People coming outside of the city -- I am concerned about it -- but I have confidence in the sheriff’s department and the outside agencies that are going to come in.”
The chairman of the Duval County Republican Party, Dean Black, said this should not divide us and believes hosting the convention would unite the city.
“Let us all behave as a great city that I know we are. That includes the NAACP. That includes the Democrats. That includes Republicans and independents," Black said. "Every resident of the city gathers together, represents your country, your nation, and your world and show them what makes America great.”