Duval GOP chair expects Jacksonville RNC announcement soon

Dean Black said President Trump or the national committee chair will release the news.

Republican Party of Duval County Chair Dean Black
Republican Party of Duval County Chair Dean Black
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Republican Party of Duval County Chair Dean Black said June 11 the national GOP could announce as early as Thursday afternoon if Jacksonville will be the host for the Aug. 24-27 Republican National Convention.

That announcement will come from President Donald Trump or Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, Black said.

“An announcement is definitely forthcoming that will come from higher command,” he said.

Although the party’s national and local leaders will not say Jacksonville will host the 2020 presidential nominating convention, local Republicans officials have been pushing the idea for weeks. 

Black said Mayor Lenny Curry and administration officials made “direct contact” with national party leaders in their bid to bring the RNC to Jacksonville, while the Duval GOP focused on drawing attention to what Black called “enthusiastic support” of local Republicans to make the case for hosting the RNC.

Black said when it became apparent that the original host, Charlotte, North Carolina, was not likely to be the RNC’s 2020 venue, the Duval GOP created the social media #rnctojax campaign.

Curry tweeted his support for the idea May 26, offering Downtown’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena as a site. Curry and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have been voicing their support to bring the convention to Florida. 

“We believed, and believe now, that Jacksonville is the single best city in the entire country to host the RNC convention,” Black said. “We began making that case so that everybody understood why Jacksonville is so important and so well suited to this.”

Jacksonville and other U.S. cities including Phoenix, Nashville, Tennessee, and Savannah, Georgia, started vying to be an alternative site for the convention after Trump publicly expressed disapproval with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat. 

Cooper said the Republican National Committee would need to scale back the presidential nominating convention to allow for social distancing because of COVID-19.

Part of the Duval GOP’s pitch to the national committee is Northeast Florida’s low rate of coronavirus transmission, Black said.

The city reports 2.8% of COVID-19 tests in Duval County returned positive as of June 8. With 65,029 tests administered, the city has one of the lowest positive test rates in Florida.

As of 11 a.m. June 11, Duval County had a cumulative 1,848 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 55 deaths related to the virus with 24 new cases from the previous day, according to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine tracker. That compares with 69,069 cases statewide.

“We have a very low COVID-19 transmission rate and a demonstrated record of being able to handle it well,” Black said. 

The local GOP chair acknowledged, if selected, local party leaders will have about 75 days to help the national committee plan an event that typically takes two years to organize.

Black lauded the city’s handling of recent public protests and “a history of being able to deal with major events on short notice,” pointing to Jacksonville’s emergency response to hurricanes Irma and Michael as examples.

He also called the city’s majority Republican-led government “unified,” which the local party saw as a possible draw for the RNC.

A Duval GOP spokesperson said June 10 that the business portion of the convention, including the party delegates’ official vote on Trump’s nomination, will remain in Charlotte. 

The spokesperson said Jacksonville would host Trump’s acceptance speech and likely Vice President Mike Pence’s speech the night before.

Black said June 11 that it “would be customary” for more party attendees to hear from multiple speakers during the portion of the convention that would come to Jacksonville. 

“The grand public spectacle, what most of America perceives as the convention, would be held in the city that it is moved to,” Black said. “As for the exact agenda, that is a question for the committee on arrangements. 

“But, absolutely, there would be more than one speaker.”



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