In DC, Pritzker, Lightfoot pitch DNC on Chicago bid to host 2024 Democratic convention

Top DNC officials also met on Friday with representatives from New York, Houston and Atlanta, the other cities bidding for the convention.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot pitched DNC officials on Chicago’s convention bid on Friday. Arriving at the DNC briefing and stopping for a photo were, from left, deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar; World Business Chicago CEO Michael Fassnacht; Lightfoot and deputy chief of staff Kelsey Nulph.

Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON - Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot pitched top Democratic National Committee officials on Friday about Chicago’s bid to host the 2024 Democratic convention, bringing boxes of Chicago goodies and - in a show of how serious this bid is - themselves.

In separate presentations, the DNC officials - including DNC Chair Jamie Harrison, who attended via video, and new DNC senior adviser Cedric Richmond, a former top official in the Biden White House - Chicago, New York, Houston and Atlanta representatives made their cases to host the 2024 convention.

The DNC will want to know that a city can make good on its promises - and a point of the joint Pritzker/Lightfoot sales job was to underscore they can deliver on the bid. The mayor and governor of New York, both Democrats, did not attend; New York Mayor Eric Adams’ chief of staff, Frank Carone, was one of the presenters.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner led his team, and the Atlanta bid was briefed by officials from its tourism and convention agency.

WHERE: The DNC team hearing the pitches used the offices of the Democratic consulting company, Bully Pulpit Interactive, a few blocks from the White House.

A NEXT STEP FOR CHICAGO: A DNC site selection delegation will visit Chicago, likely later this summer. A date for the 2024 Democratic convention has not been set.

WHO CAME FROM CHICAGO: The group briefing the DNC about city’s bid included Pritzker; Lightfoot; Lightfoot deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar; deputy chief of staff Kelsey Nulph; Pritzker chief of staff Anne Caprara; deputy Govs. Christian Mitchell and Andy Manar; President and CEO of World Business Chicago Michael Fassnacht; Choose Chicago CEO Lynn Ormond; United Center COO Terry Savarise; and from Magnify Strategies, the company overseeing coordinating the bid, CEO Kaitlin Fahey and founding partner Leah Israel.

THE CHICAGO PITCH: Lightfoot and Pritzker gave opening remarks, with DNC staffers going through detailed power points with other members from the Chicago delegation. Chicago last hosted a convention in 1996, when the Democrats met at the United Center.

Lightfoot told me the city, with its abundance of hotel rooms, restaurants, venues and people experienced in staging large-scale events has a “compelling case” that should make selecting Chicago a “no-brainer. We know how to put on large scale events. We do it every year, multiple times a year.”

Lightfoot added, “The biggest sell I think is, we are in the Heartland. We are in the epicenter of the states they want to activate for Biden-Harris in 2024.”

THAT GOODIE BOX: Things from Chicago vendors, including Chicagwa water from Lake Michigan in cans featuring the artwork of Chicago artists. D.C. water pales in contrast to the great drink that comes out of Chicago’s faucets.

HOUSTON MAYOR: “Big events is what we do in Houston,” Mayor Sylvester Turner told me, before a bus arrived full of Houston officials who run Houston’s police, fire and public transit systems, plus labor and business leaders.

“From an infrastructure point of view, we are quite prepared.”

Houston is a Democratic city in a red state with a governor, Gregg Abbott, who has overseen state efforts to, among other items at odds with the Democratic agenda, lead the nation in restricting abortion rights.

Turner noted that Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin are run by Democratic mayors.

I asked if Abbott was an obstacle they would have to work around.

“No, in fact I think it’s an opportunity for Democrats. You got to expand the map, and you got to sow seeds in areas where you can reap a future crop.”

NEW YORK TEAM: New York is Chicago’s biggest rival in this competition. Both cities are diverse, have Democratic leadership, have an abundance of union hotel rooms, event venues, great restaurants and are transit hubs.

Among the leaders of New York’s delegation were Frank Carone, the chief of staff for Mayor Adams, and also from NYC’s City Hall, deputy Mayor Sheena Wright and Tiffany Raspberry, a senior adviser for external affairs.

“The mayor has given us clear instructions,” Carone told me. “This is a priority that we have to put all of our best foot forward” and to make sure that the DNC knows “the depth of our proposal.”

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In DC, Gov. Pritzker arriving at the DNC meeting to pitch Chicago’s 2024 convention bid.

Photo by Lynn Sweet

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