Salt Lake City is among four cities in the running to host the 2024 Republican National Convention.
Politico reported Friday the other finalists are Milwaukee, Nashville, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh. Party officials intend to visit each of the cities in the coming months before making a decision in the spring.
“It’s a great opportunity. It’s a really exciting thing for the state. It’s a really exciting thing for Republicans, and for me that’s a good thing,” said Utah Republican Party Chairman Carson Jorgensen.
Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, supports the city hosting the national convention in 2024 or at another time in the future.
“I think we’ve got a great story to tell. I’d love for the rest of the country and the world to see how a well-run, conservative state prospers,” he said.
Wilson said he doesn’t know much about the details about the effort to bring the event to Salt Lake City or the selection process.
Visit Salt Lake is organizing the bid and made a presentation in Washington, D.C., to the Republican National Committee last year, said Jorgensen, who made the trip.
“They have our unprecedented support,” he said.
Jorgensen said the convention, which requires some 18,000 hotel rooms, would be a boon to the state’s travel industry.
The 2024 presidential nominating convention could be an explosive one if former President Donald Trump decides to run again. The eyes of the country and the world would most certainly be focused on the state for that time.
Wilson didn’t want to speculate on Salt Lake City being the stage for a Trump comeback. “I think we’ll just kind of let that play out and see,” he said.
Jorgensen said if Trump is a candidate, “obviously it’s going to bring some contention but it’s also going to bring some support. ... He’s kind of the catalyst for both sides.”
Trump won Utah in 2020 with 58% of the vote.
The site deliberations come as the GOP begins its early preparations for the next presidential election.
Jorgensen said he anticipates the selection committee to visit Salt Lake City and the other cities before Republican National Committee members gather in Salt Lake City next month for their annual winter meeting. They are expected to discuss a range of 2024-related issues, including the primary calendar, primary and general election debates and the convention search, according to Politico.
Representatives for the cities under consideration are expected to be present at the winter meeting.
“I’m sure if they haven’t made their mind up by the time winter meetings come around, we’re definitely going to schmooze them some more,” he said.
The choice of a convention host city has taken on an important symbolic role in recent years, with both parties using them to deliver statements of intent about competing for important swing states, according to Politico. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have gone outside potential battleground states for a convention city since 2004.
Utah and Tennessee are solid red states, while Democrats have carried Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in three of the last four presidential elections.
This is not the first time Salt Lake City has bid for the GOP national convention.
The Salt Lake Chamber headed up an effort to bring the 2012 Republican National Convention to Utah. The event eventually went to Tampa, Florida, where delegates nominated now Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney to run for president.
The University of Utah hosted the 2020 vice presidential debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence.