CHARLOTTE – With eyes on August 2020, this coming year will be a busy one for local Republicans as the party prepares to host the 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte.
Charlotte was awarded the 2020 RNC last summer. The Republican National Committee announced back in October that the convention will be held Aug. 24 to 27, when the party is expected to nominate President Donald Trump for a second term.
The convention is expected to have a huge economic impact on Charlotte and the surrounding counties, as nearly 50,000 visitors could attend the convention. It is expected that many events will be held outside of Uptown, including at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Charlotte hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and is now one of 10 cities to host both conventions.
“This is an exciting time for the region,” said N.C. Sen. Todd Johnson, a Republican elected to represent most of Union County. “The economic impact is going to be monumental.”
The Mecklenburg County Republican Party has been tasked with finding around 8,000 volunteers to help staff the convention and the hundreds of events that will surround the convention.
Mecklenburg County Republican Party vice-chair Sarah Reidy-Jones said the party has already started signing up volunteers but that effort will pick up steam next month.
Several top positions for the RNC have been filled but the party is waiting until Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is re-elected head of the party later this month. That vote is basically a formality as President Trump has asked McDaniel to stay on as head of the party through 2020.
“We are kind of in a holding pattern until Ronna McDaniel is re-elected as chairman of the RNC,” Reidy-Jones said. “At that point, they will start staffing up and making more plans. That is when the RNC will make its committee appointments as well. They have hired the COO and a couple of other positions.”
Reidy-Jones said the Mecklenburg County Republicans are working with local GOP organizations throughout the region to find volunteers.
“Our sole job for the convention is getting the volunteers,” Reidy-Jones said. “The RNC does the actual operations of the actual convention. We have a lot of volunteers right now. We have volunteers from all over North Carolina and South Carolina and the whole region. We are collecting that information but we are putting them to work with other projects for the party.”
While the official convention is just four days, events surrounding it will begin as early as the week before the convention as people, including media members from around the world, start flocking to the Queen City.
The host committee, which is made up of local business and civic leaders, expects to raise $70 million to fund the convention and Charlotte 2020 Host Committee CEO John Lassiter said the convention will be good for Charlotte and the region.
Update on congressional race
Local Republicans may also have to gear up for a special congressional election if the state orders a new election for the 9th Congressional District, which stretches from southern Mecklenburg County to Fayetteville.
Mark Harris defeated Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the November election but the state refused to certify the results after alleged irregularities in absentee voting in two counties in the district surfaced.
The North Carolina Board of Elections will hold a public hearing on Jan. 11 regarding the board’s investigation into absentee ballot irregularities in the district.
The board initially announced during a meeting in November that they would hold the public hearing prior to Dec. 21. The new date means that Harris will not be seated when Congress reconvened on Jan. 3. McCready withdrew his concession speech he gave the day after the election after the alleged irregularities surfaced.
Reidy-Jones said that if the board goes as far to order a new election, she expects that the general election would be held sometime in August.
“It could be pushed to August, which is crazy,” Reidy-Jones said. “That’s a darn shame for the residents of District 9.”