JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It almost happened in the summer of 2020 — and, once again, Jacksonville could be the site of the Republican National Convention. Local and national leaders are tiptoeing around the topic, but it seems the River City is under consideration as the host of the event in 2028.
A surge in COVID-19 cases led then-President Donald Trump to cancel the previous convention in Jacksonville. This time, it wouldn’t be a shock or an emergency change like it was in 2020.
“Completely different,” said political analyst Rick Mullaney. “The mayor’s office, the chamber of commerce, economic development, downtown, all of them would love to host a convention, whether Republican or Democratic, in Jacksonville.”
Mullaney believes a convention from either party would be a boon for the city.
While 2024 has been announced — it will take place in Milwaukee — the RNC doesn’t usually decide on a location this far out.
A senior advisor sad in a statement to News4JAX:
“This is the early stages, very preliminary, getting some basic information on doing a site visit, gathering as much — doing as much due diligence as they can on Jacksonville,” Mullaney said. “But in the end, as it was in 2020, that was really much driven by the mayor’s office. If a Democratic or Republican convention were to come to Jacksonville, the mayor’s office would play a very important role.”
No one was willing to confirm the RNC visit, with the city of Jacksonville pointing us to Visit Jacksonville.
Visit Jacksonville CEO Michael Corridan said, “I do not have any information that I can share regarding an RNC visit to Jacksonville.”
While a site visit in 2023 could make an impression, Mullaney says visitors have to use their imagination too.
“Jacksonville in 2028. Downtown will look very different than it does today,” Mullaney said. “A lot of development on the drawing board, much of it hotels and of course on the river. And so, I think Jacksonville would be a very positive choice, although this will be a very competitive process,”
Because the process is so competitive, RNC leaders I spoke with Tuesday would not say how many cities they may consider. They did not name other cities they looked at before announcing Milwaukee as their site for the convention next year.