Chicago will host 2024 Democratic convention

Chicago stood out, party leaders said, because of its diversity and strength in the labor movement. Although Democratic Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson ran to the left of Biden on policing, he was backed by the powerful Chicago Teachers Union.

Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who is a co-chair of the DNC, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and outgoing Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot made a concerted lobbying campaign with the White House for the city. Pritzker and Duckworth organized an effort among Midwestern governors and senators and others to also lean on Biden.

“The Midwest is key to a victory in 2024, and there is no city better positioned to reach those voters than Chicago,” Duckworth said in the statement.

Many party leaders point to recent Democratic victories in Michigan and Wisconsin as proof of the Midwest’s strength for Democrats.

Last week, Wisconsin voters elected a liberal majority to its state Supreme Court, which will likely affect an upcoming court case challenging a ban on abortion.

Chicago and Atlanta have been the frontrunners among the three finalists for weeks. A convention in Atlanta would have highlighted the importance of Georgia, where Democrats have seen recent success in Senate and presidential elections.

But Chicago, a city split nearly evenly between Black, Latino and white residents, is also a union town, where Georgia is a right-to-work state.

After last week’s mayoral runoff in Chicago, Pritzker said he “absolutely” saw Johnson’s victory as enhancing the city’s chance of securing the convention. “Look, he brings a real excitement to the job, I think to the people of Chicago. And I think that’s being felt in Washington, D.C.”

The 2024 Democratic convention will be the city’s 12th time hosting the event. The first was in 1864 and the most recent was 1996. The most memorable, however, was the 1968 convention, which was marked by unrest.

The ’68 convention was held on the heels of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., who had lived in Chicago with his family for a time to highlight the disparities of the city.

Chicago is a city well-versed in hosting big conventions.

It has 132 hotels and 43,462 hotel rooms in the business district and hundreds more hotels in the greater metropolitan area. It has a solid transportation system. And Pritzker has also pledged to make sure the DNC can walk away debt-free from a convention held in Chicago.

Pritzker, who self-funded his two gubernatorial campaigns, has enlisted numerous Illinois business executives to help fund the convention, which is expected to cost between $80 million to $100 million.

The major convention events will be held in the United Center, where the Chicago Bulls play. It’s the largest arena in North America, with 1.7 million square feet of arena and convention venue space, according to organizers. There’s also more than 26,000 square feet of hospitality space, which has been a draw for conventions in the past.

Other events would be held at McCormick Place, which has hosted nearly every American president since President John F. Kennedy at various events. McCormick Place also hosted more than 60 world leaders and heads of state as part of the 2012 NATO Summit.

As an example of how important the Midwest is for 2024, Republicans are set to gather in Milwaukee, Wis., an hour away from Chicago, from July 15-18, 2024.

The 2020 Democratic Convention held some events in Milwaukee but was largely virtual because of the pandemic.

Additional reporting from Christopher Cadelago and Sally Goldenberg.