Apr 11, 2023 - Politics

What landing the 2024 DNC means for Chicago

Photo of people on stage at a convention

President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore accept their nominations at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, 1996. Photo: Jose More/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Chicago will host the 2024 Democratic National Convention next summer.

Why it matters: The decision, announced Tuesday, gives big political clout to Illinois Democrats, including Gov. JB Pritzker.

  • Plus, 50,000 attendees are expected to come through Chicago, bringing economic benefits for hotels, restaurants and shops.

Context: It will be the 26th time the city has hosted a political convention, the most in the country.

  • The first ever U.S. political convention was held in Chicago in 1860. The last one we held was in 1996 — when the party renominated Bill Clinton for president and Al Gore for VP.
  • Notably, Chicago hosted one of the most tumultuous conventions in 1968 that had "the whole world watching."

The big picture: Chicago beat out New York and Atlanta. Atlanta's recent violent protests over a new police training facility and ongoing labor issues didn't sit well with the party's union supporters.

Zoom in: The 2024 convention will formally be held at the United Center and at McCormick Place. Informally, state delegations will throw parties at Chicago restaurants and bars.

What they're saying: Illinois Democrats, led by Pritzker, pitched President Joe Biden and the party to bring the convention here, pointing to our proximity to battleground states and the so-called "blue wall."

  • In a letter to Biden this year, Pritzker wrote, "When the future of the country hangs in the balance, we cannot afford to overlook the Midwest.”

Between the lines: Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson said he met with Pritzker on this issue and pitched it to Biden in a recent post-election phone call.

  • Yes, but: The victory goes to Mayor Lori Lightfoot. The outgoing mayor was front and center with the delegation during the yearslong pitch process.
  • The convention will join the NASCAR street race and the city casino as projects shepherded by Lightfoot, but all will be completed after her term ends.
  • "I'm proud that we got it done for the people of Chicago," Lightfoot said in a statement.

What's next: The convention is planned for Aug. 19-22, 2024. The Republican National Convention will take place in Milwaukee.

Monica's thought bubble: In 1996, I had such a fun time doing "The Macarena" on the floor of the United Center with Al Gore leading the way. I wonder what the hot dance will be in 2024. Maybe JB Pritzker will lead us in a little "Cha-Cha Slide."

Justin's thought bubble: I'll never forget covering the 1996 convention. Mostly for when the late Dick Kay pushed me out of his live shot, but also for broadcasting live with such a handsome public radio crew!

Photo of four people posing for photo
This is how public radio people dressed in 1996. Top to bottom: Steve Waranauskas, Justin Kaufmann, Johanna Zorn and John Dempsey. Photo courtesy of John Dempsey

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect the Democratic National Committee announcement about Chicago hosting the 2024 convention was made Tuesday, not Monday.


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