Jacksonville will host President Trump’s GOP renomination convention

Most of Republican National Convention moved out of Charlotte, official business will still continue there

FILE - In this July 21, 2016, file photo Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, center left, walks with vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana as confetti and balloons fall during celebrations after Trump's acceptance speech on the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The coronavirus pandemic is forcing Democrats and Republicans to take a close look at whether they'll be able to move forward as planned this summer with conventions that typically kick off the general election season. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Donald Trump will accept the nomination of the Republican Party for a second term as president in Jacksonville, the Republican National Committee Chair announced Thursday night in a news release.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this momentous occasion in the great city of Jacksonville,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in the news release. “We look forward to bringing this great celebration and economic boom to the Sunshine State in just a few short months.”

Trump’s re-nomination celebration will take place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Area. Additional details surrounding the event were said to be forthcoming.

The RNC voted Wednesday night to allow the party’s more mundane business to be held in Charlotte, N.C. because of contractual obligations. According to the news release, the celebration will be moved to Jacksonville.

“This is a big moment for Jacksonville,” said News4Jax political analyst Rick Mullaney. “The eyes of the nation will be turning to our city. We’ve got to make sure we make the most of that moment.”

Sen. Rick Scott tweeted:

Reports had been swirling for more than a week that Jacksonville was the front runner to host the Republican National Convention that Trump wanted moved out of Charlotte after North Carolina’s governor told the party it could not host a full-scale convention free from social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

The RNC has spent the last week scouting locations after Gov. Roy Cooper, D-N.C., rejected Trump’s demand that the convention be allowed to take place Aug. 24-27 without social distancing measures.

“I’ve known for a little bit of time but really nothing’s been official because they really wanted to keep it in Charlotte, but I will tell you this is huge for Florida. It’s even bigger news for Jacksonville,” said Joe Gruters, Chair of the Republican Party of Florida.

The Duval GOP tweeted that it was looking for volunteers for the event:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Mayor Lenny Curry welcomed the idea of hosting the convention here. After the announcement, the Jacksonville mayor released a video on Twitter.

“Jacksonville, I know what you’re thinking. Are we big enough, bold enough to host the RNC?” Curry says in the video. “What city would take on the Republican National Convention with just 75 days to pull it off? Probably not many, but Jacksonville isn’t just any city. Here in the River City, we do things big and bold, and we’ll be ready.”

“All those people who are concerned about this need to resolve themselves right now that we are all citizens of the same city,” said Dean Black, Chair of the Republican Party of Duval County. “We are brothers, and they should resolve it. They need to protest by all means. They should do that respectfully, peacefully. But this should never be a divisive thing.”

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When it comes to the time frame to prepare, City Council President-elect Tommy Hazouri weighed in.

“This is a hurry up process. You are not taking a year to get this thing done. You are taking two months to make it happen, and I think that’s what all of us need to be concerned about,” Hazouri said. “That could have a chilling effect on all the expectations we expect from an economy standpoint and economic standpoint as well as a prestigious standpoint.”

Curry said he’s received a number of letters and emails asking him not to bring the convention to town. Among those opposed -- Isaiah Rumlin, the head of the Jacksonville NAACP.

“Because of what is happening in this city at this particular time, they should encourage the president not to come here,” Rumlin said.

On Wednesday, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel made clear that Jacksonville was the favorite. Officials had also considered Nashville, Las Vegas, Orlando and Savannah, Georgia.

There were indications that plans were moving forward in Jacksonville. Hotel rooms were blocked off for the last week of August -- one week after the state’s Aug. 18 primary -- intensifying speculation.

The Jacksonville area has a population of about 1.5 million. Curry is a former chairperson of the state Republican Party, and the area is the home base of GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, a key Trump ally.

That celebration could generate at least $100 million in revenues for the host city, perhaps more.

Florida's prize of 29 electoral votes is considered crucial to Trump's bid for a second term, which could factor into the party's calculations.

Associated Press writers contributed to this report.

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