Chicago is the front-runner for the 2024 Democratic convention

Democratic gains this week in the swing states of Wisconsin and Michigan bolster the case for Chicago hosting the party’s quadrennial gathering.

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Construction underway for the Democratic National Convention at the United Center in Chicago on Monday, July 29, 1996. Chicago will host the 2024 convention at the United Center.

Construction is underway for the Democratic National Convention at the United Center in Chicago July 29, 1996, the last time the city hosted a national convention.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Chicago is the front-runner for the 2024 Democratic National Convention with Democratic gains this week in the swing states of Wisconsin and Michigan bolstering the case for President Joe Biden launching his bid for a second term from the Midwest.

Chicago’s main rival for the 2024 nominating convention is Atlanta with New York’s prospects faded.

A Democratic National Committee Technical Advisory Group evaluated the bids in order to make a recommendation to Biden and his team. I am told Chicago came up on top based on a variety of items — most likely hotel capacity, transportation, security, financing and overall logistics.

The host city decision is Biden’s to make, and the president and his team have many factors— obviously including politics — to consider.

A host city has to provide free transportation for delegates to the convention venues from their hotels; designate “free speech” areas for demonstrations; provide robust digital capacity in the main venues — think miles of high-capacity fiber-optic and data lines. A host city committee must also have the fundraising heft to raise millions of dollars to cover other convention-related expenses.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker; Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a DNC co-chair; and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have been quarterbacking the city’s bid.

Logistics and technical matters aside, a major argument Chicago convention backers are making to Biden and his team is that the 2024 convention should be seen through the prism of Democrats keeping the White House in 2024 by reinforcing the Midwest “Blue Wall.”

Last month, officials from eight states wrote to Biden and DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison, underscoring the importance of Michigan and Wisconsin in retaining the White House in 2024.

Former President Donald Trump won in 2016 by clinching the White House with slim victories in Michigan and Wisconsin, fueled by fewer than 34,000 votes. The letter said the “Midwest is utterly indispensable to the party’s success and should be the home of its 2024 convention.”

Which brings us to this week.

In Wisconsin’s election on Tuesday, the Supreme Court of that state — for the first time in 15 years — switched to a liberal majority when Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz — a liberal backed by Democrats — beat former Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly — a conservative supported by Republicans. The shift in court control is expected to have a significant impact in a pending case challenging a Wisconsin abortion ban.

And on the abortion front, on Wednesday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation repealing the state’s 1931 abortion ban. The measure came to her desk because Democrats — for the first time in decades — won control of the state House and Senate and kept the governorship last November.

A Thursday letter to Biden and Harrison from the Democratic lieutenant governors of Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — including Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton — said “by choosing to have the convention in Chicago, a proud Midwestern city, we will send a message that the Democratic Party doesn’t overlook the Midwest — and stand on the right side of so many key issues for American families.”

Atlanta’s bid has been slammed by advocates for the Chicago and New York bids because Georgia is a right–to-work state with only two union hotels in the city. Unions and their members are a key part of the Democratic base.

Chicago last hosted a Democratic convention in 1996, with the delegates meeting at the United Center to re-nominate President Bill Clinton for a second term. The United Center would be the main venue if the 2024 convention were held in Chicago.

The Republicans are holding their 2024 convention in Milwaukee. Democrats picked Milwaukee to host their 2020 convention, but almost all of the convention ended up being virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I reported on Feb. 9 that Pritzker, a billionaire, was among those making upfront guarantees to the Democratic National Committee that the party would lose no money if Chicago snagged the convention.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker at Harvard’s Institute of Politics

On Monday, Pritzker has two events at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He’s traveling to Cambridge at the invitation of one of the current IOP fellows, Quentin Fulks, who was Pritzker’s 2018 campaign deputy manager and went on to become the governor’s senior political advisor.

Most recently, Fulks was the campaign manager for the 2022 re-election bid for Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga. and has been mentioned as a possible player in Biden’s re-election bid.

On Monday evening, Pritzker will appear at the John F. Kennedy Forum for a conversation about “his career in business and public service, his priorities as governor and leadership through times of crisis.”

During the day, Pritzker will huddle with students in Fulks’ study group to discuss “Leadership in Tough Times: A State Government Perspective,” where the governor will be joined with his chief of staff, Anne Caprara.

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