Gov. Pritzker tells Biden: Democratic convention in Chicago will be ‘huge party’

After Mayor Lori Lightfoot was told by DNC Chair Jaime Harrison Chicago won the convention, the mayor, defeated for reelection, said ‘I told him he made my day, week, and year.’

SHARE Gov. Pritzker tells Biden: Democratic convention in Chicago will be ‘huge party’
Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a news conference on the Near West Side July 26, 2022 to urge that Chicago be picked to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention

Last July, Gov. J.B. Pritzker was joined by other elected officials and representatives from the Democratic National Committee to advocate for Chicago being picked to host the 2024 convention. On Tuesday, he got his wish.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

When President Joe Biden called Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday morning to tell him Chicago landed the 2024 convention, the governor vowed the city would “throw a huge party” to celebrate his successes.

The call came more than a year after Pritzker first pitched Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison on hosting the convention. Biden called Pritzker with the DNC news just before boarding Air Force One for Ireland.

Biden thanked Pritzker for “all of his support,” and told him, “I just want you to know we’re planning on having the Democratic convention in Chicago,” according to a source.

Pritzker said, “You know that Chicago is your kind of town. We’re going to throw a huge party, and it’s going to be a real big celebration of all of your successes.”

Since that call — and his arrival home to Chicago after attending events at Harvard — Pritzker has been glued to his phone. Traveling with Pritzker was Anne Caprara, his chief of staff, who used her own extensive contacts in the Biden orbit to lobby for Chicago to be the host city in 2024.

Pritzker told the Sun-Times he had spoken with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to thank them for their “representation” of the “Blue Wall” of the Midwest.

Chicago beat bids from Atlanta and New York.

Tammy Duckworth

More than 18 months ago, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a DNC co-chair, thought Chicago should pursue a 2024 presidential convention bid. “I got the ball rolling,” she told the Sun-Times. Once Duckworth decided Chicago should bid, she went to Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and some business leaders. They “thought it was great. And then I asked them for money,” to put together a bid.

Said Duckworth, who has keynoted at three Democratic conventions, “It’s really been a team effort to get to this place where we got this successful announcement.”

Lori Lightfoot

When Harrison phoned Lightfoot — defeated for re-election on Feb. 28 — with the news about Chicago’s win, “I told him he made my day, week and year,” Lightfoot told the Sun-Times.

“Look, this is something that we’ve been working on for quite a long time. We tried to take advantage of every opportunity to really showcase our city and demonstrate why Chicago should be the choice for the convention. Lightfoot gave a hat tip to Duckworth because “she’s the person who brought this notion to all of us and lit the spark.”

Landing the Democratic convention while mayor is part of Lightfoot’s legacy.

Brandon Johnson

Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson learned Chicago would host the convention when he got a call from someone at the White House on Tuesday morning.

Johnson, who will be sworn in as mayor on May 15, said he was so excited to get a call from the White House that he saved the voicemail “to make sure that my grandchildren hear it one day.”

Johnson, still absorbing the enormity of becoming mayor, reacted to Chicago landing the convention in personal terms.

“This is an exciting time. I mean, I was teaching middle school, you know, just a handful of years ago. I’m Mayor-elect and I’m getting a phone call from the White House — and that one of the most dynamic conventions known to humankind is coming to the city which just elected me,” he said.

“So I’m very, very excited, thrilled, humbled. It’s been a great ... team effort,” Johnson added.

Barack Obama

Said former President Barack Obama in a tweet, “There’s no place like Chicago! Michelle and I are thrilled to have the Democratic National Convention return to our hometown next year.”

GOP slams Chicago choice

As Chicago convention boosters were highlighting the logistical and political advantages of Chicago, national and state Republicans seized on the city’s crime woes.

Tommy Pigott, rapid response director for the Republican National Committee, said in a statement that, “Democrats just chose one of the worst-run cities in America for their convention: Chicago. Illinois.” Republican Party Chair Don Tracy said it’s no surprise the DNC chose Chicago, “where they can put the city’s failed far-left policies on display for the world to see.”

Asked whether the DNC questioned Chicago’s crime rate when considering the city as a convention site, Pritzker said, “They never challenged Chicago on that basis.” He said every major city saw a rise in crime during the pandemic — and cited improvements.

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