A group of Illinois lawmakers, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, put on a full-court press for Democratic National Committee officials on Tuesday as they work to win the hosting duties for the party’s 2024 convention.
Chicago, which is going up against Atlanta, Houston and New York in their effort to host the convention for the first time since 1996, welcomed in several officials from the DNC on Tuesday, including party Chairman Jaime Harrison.
“We’re ready for our closeup. This is a great global city. This is a real opportunity to go right at the heartland, and you know my view is if you win the heartland, you win the election, and we’re ready,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot says that the DNC typically generates between $150-200 million in economic impact for its host city, and says that the last convention to be held in Chicago helped to speed development in the West Loop and the Fulton Market District.
“We’ve been building the future of our country every single day by creating an equitable recovery economy, by making sure our social safety net is responsive to the lived experience of our most vulnerable residents, points for everything that the Biden/Harris administration stands for,” she said.
While Georgia will likely be a key battleground state for Democrats in the coming presidential election, Harrison says that the party is more focused on putting on a quality show for the voting public than on emphasizing tightly-contested states in their decision-making process.
“Bottom line, it’s about the show. It’s about putting on the best show possible on the ground, but also on television, painting the picture and demonstrating why it’s about the story and why Democrats need to be in leadership,” he said.
Harrison pointed out that Democrats lost in Pennsylvania in 2012 when the convention was held in Philadelphia, and followed that up by losing North Carolina in 2016 when it was held in Charlotte.
President Joe Biden did narrowly edge former President Donald Trump in Wisconsin in 2020 when parts of the convention were held in Milwaukee.
Even amid the intrigue surrounding that decision, there is also an undercurrent of discontent among Illinois Democrats, as the party is getting set to choose its leader for the next four years.
Rep. Robin Kelly, who was at Tuesday’s event, is aiming to remain in her position for another four years after she replaced former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been pushing the candidacy of State Rep. Lisa Hernandez for the position.
Despite the contentious disagreement over the next chair of the party, Pritzker and Kelly were both cordial during Tuesday’s event, speaking on themes of uniting behind the bid to land the DNC in Chicago and in winning elections for Democrats statewide.
“We’re all rallying around the Democratic Party of Illinois, for the next four years around that chair to make sure that we get done what we need to do, which is elect Democrats up and down the ballot,” Pritzker said.
While Pritzker’s heavy financial clout looms as a powerful weapon in the battle for the chairmanship, Kelly has her own high-profile supporters, including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Lightfoot.
The vote to determine the party’s next leader will come on Saturday in Springfield. It is not known when a final decision will be made on the site of the 2024 DNC, nor is there a date to determine where Illinois will fall in the 2024 presidential primary calendar.