Organizers of Chicago’s bid to host the 2024 Democratic convention are shifting into high gear, sparked by the Democratic National Committee’s release of the document detailing the mammoth pledge of money, union hotel rooms and related venues necessary to organize the event.
Chicago and seven other cities — including Atlanta and Houston — were invited by the DNC to submit a bid by May 27, sending out a “request for proposal” on Friday. The convention is set to be held in the summer of 2024, though exact dates have yet to be decided.
The organizers have been preparing the ground to submit a bid for months. The directors of Magnify Strategies, the company supporting the effort, including the massive fundraising needed, are closely tied to Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., DNC vice chair.
Company founder Kaitlin Fahey has been associated with Duckworth for years. Magnify’s Leah Israel was the main fundraiser for the 2020 Democratic Convention in Milwaukee, raising some $45 million for the rally, which ended up being mostly virtual because of COVID. Paul Kohnstamm, also a member of the company, held meetings with potential convention stakeholders, including Chicago’s labor and hospitality communities.
The Sun-Times has learned that the tender wanted information on hotel rooms, potential venues, the city’s ability to handle the number of people expected, as well as transportation options and access. from any potential convention center site.
The DNC also requires a significant financial envelope from the host city, in cash or in kind, to cover a variety of costs – from festivities related to a political convention to payment for the venue itself, likely the United Center, which hosted the 1996 Democratic convention.
Chicago has several selling points that meet the demands of the DNC: A large number of union hotel rooms; a large union workforce; a commitment of all local leaders for diversity in contracts and a large number of locations for related activities.
There’s also an intangible that’s much appreciated by delegates, donors and other convention attendees: everything in Chicago is close. Although COVID meant Milwaukee had never hosted an in-person Democratic convention, the city was so short of hotel rooms that some large state delegations were going to be accommodated in hotels near O’Hare.
Michael Jacobson, president and CEO of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association, told the Sun-Times that there are about 50,000 hotel rooms in Chicago and some 83,000 rooms if you include all the Cook County – which sweeps the accommodation corridors around Midway and O’Hare Airports.
“We’ll be able to accommodate everyone in very close quarters, all in the central business district, and that matters when planning an event like this,” Jacobson told the Sun-Times.
Even though the Democratic convention is obviously a political event, the business it brings to the region — and the chance for a city to present itself on the world stage — means the host committee, now in formation, has the ability to attract major contributions from corporate and Republican donors.
Organizers are set to announce the first members of the Chicago 2024 host committee. A source told the Sun-Times that attendees will read like a “who’s who of Chicago.” Organizers are also seeking support from former President Barack Obama, whose top donors to the foundation include a variety of Chicago-based companies that should be courted for the organizing committee.
Chicago’s bid is also expected to be backed by billionaire Governor JB Pritzker, who has the ability to donate and raise some of the millions the DNC will demand to be put on the table.
Milwaukee is a frontrunner for the 2024 Republican convention, and according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, organizers are budgeting $65 million to stage the convention.
DNC OFFICIALS HIT CHICAGO
DNC executive director Sam Cornale will be in Chicago for a series of events on April 28, the Sun-Times has learned, some hosted by DNC Midwest chief financial officer Michael Woicekowski.
Pritzker’s team has been in “constant contact” with the DNC and plans to meet with Cornale when he is in Chicago.
At some point, an official DNC Site Selection Committee will travel to Chicago.
ILLINOIS DEMOCRATS MIX UP EARLY PRIMARY OFFER
Seeking to hold primaries in more diverse states, the DNC is expected in 2024 to break Iowa and New Hampshire’s hold on early presidential votes. Illinois Democrats are considering whether to make a formal bid to be one of the first states.