Democrats have chosen Chicago to host their 2024 national convention, trying to keep the party’s momentum going after last fall’s midterm election success in the critical Midwest. The decision, confirmed by a Democratic official who spoke on Tuesday on the condition of anonymity before an official announcement, comes after President Joe Biden chose Chicago over finalists that also included Atlanta and New York.
Chicago is solidly Democratic, as is Illinois. But holding the party’s presidential nominating gathering in such a pro-union city again demonstrates Biden’s commitment to organized labor — which will be critical to his bid to win a second term in the White House.
The move also could counter Republicans, who last summer decided to hold their 2024 convention in Milwaukee in another critical Midwestern battleground state, Wisconsin.
The 2020 Democratic convention was supposed to be held in Milwaukee but unfolded virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic. Biden delivered a speech accepting his party’s nomination that year at a nearly empty convention center in Wilmington, Delaware, where he has a home and often spends weekends away from the White House.
Milwaukee, however, used its 2020 convention preparations to argue to Republicans that it had a “turnkey” operation ready for next year.
Chicago hosted the infamous 1968 Democratic convention that is best remembered for a brutal clash between police and protesters opposing the Vietnam War. The last Democratic National Convention in the city was in 1996, when President Bill Clinton won a second term.
Illinois Democratic Gov. J. B. Pritzker was a key voice in lobbying for Chicago. He pointed to Democratic desires to expand their electoral gains in the Midwest, particularly in Michigan, where the party held the governorship and won control of both chambers of the Legislature during last fall’s midterms.
That Chicago beat out Atlanta was nonetheless a surprise given Georgia’s strategic importance as a swing state. Biden won Georgia two years ago, becoming the first Democrat to do so in a presidential election since Clinton in 1992, and his party now controls both of its Senate seats after wins that drew national attention the last two cycles.
Though Atlanta is as thoroughly Democratic as Chicago and New York, Georgia could very well be a major deciding factor in the 2024 presidential race.
Still, some top Democrats worried about its Republican-controlled Legislature and state laws discouraging union membership and LGBTQ rights. There were also concerns about Georgia’s relaxed firearms laws, especially given the rash of school shootings around the country — despite gun violence being a persistent problem in Chicago.
But shunning Atlanta for the convention could serve as a double blow to Georgia, which may also eventually lose its early place in a new Democratic primary calendar.
Biden endorsed moving Georgia to the No. 4 position in a revamped Democratic primary calendar for 2024 — changes meant to better empower the party’s deeply diverse voter base than the old system, which led off with overwhelmingly white Iowa.
Under a new primary order approved by the Democratic National Committee in March, Georgia would have gone after leadoff South Carolina, and following Nevada and New Hampshire, which were set to go second simultaneously. It was slated ahead of Michigan, a new early Democratic primary state at No. 5.
That top five would have the chance to vote before much of the rest of the country on Super Tuesday in early March.
Georgia, though, could be stripped of the fourth spot since Republican state officials have refused to move to an earlier date that wouldn’t coincide with the GOP’s presidential primary next year. Securing the convention might have softened the blow of being forced out of the primary’s early lineup — but wasn’t to be.
As he seeks reelection, the president is already focused on 2024′s general election, rather than the primary, facing only token opposition from Democratic challenger, Marianne Williamson, a spiritual adviser and author, and anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
New York City and state are also deeply blue in presidential races. But choosing it for the convention might have helped Democrats in other parts of the state, its advocates said. That included Long Island, where Republican gains in key congressional districts helped the party flip the House last year.
Supporters of Atlanta’s bid had argued that the city and the rest of Georgia could help lead a resurgence of Democrats in the South, which remains largely steadfastly Republican.
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