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Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson on Friday called a proposal to require payment to the city to hold the 2024 Republican National Convention a "poison pill" even as he expressed optimism that the Common Council would ultimately throw its support behind the event.
Johnson declined to answer whether he would veto any legislation that required a payment to the city, saying he would have to see what comes out of the council.
However, he said he was certain requiring such a payment would not bode well for Milwaukee's effort to beat out Nashville in the bid to host the RNC.
“I think it amounts basically to a poison pill that could kill the deal,” Johnson said Friday. “Inserting a dollar amount into this agreement — knowing full well that it would kill the deal — is a nonstarter for me.”
His comments come after three council members on Wednesday put forward a proposal to require the RNC host committee to provide the city $6 million to address housing, higher education and workforce development if the convention were to come to Milwaukee.
Ald. JoCasta Zamarripa, the amendment's lead sponsor, briefly discussed the proposal at the close of a key council committee meeting Wednesday. The measure did not receive a vote by the Steering and Rules Committee, which for now has also delayed a vote on the framework agreement to bring the convention to the city.
The delay was a result of a surprise deadline, political tensions and a push for Milwaukee's cash-strapped city government to benefit financially from the potential event.
The agreement could still get a vote at the council meeting Wednesday.
Mayor Cavalier Johnson optimistic about Republican National Convention in Milwaukee
Johnson on Friday said while it remains his expectation that the council will approve the contract, "Obviously, there is work to be done."
As he has before, Johnson touted the opportunity the RNC presents for the city's businesses and overall economy during the time the convention would be in town and as other conventions seek to locate here.
He said he had spoken with members of the Republican National Committee and the host committee since the council committee vote.
"All of us are going to continue to do the work that's necessary in order for us to make sure that there's the outcome that all of us want to see, which is acceptance of the contract so that the city of Milwaukee will host the Republican National Convention in 2024," he said.
He also said outreach from his administration to the council would continue to try to ensure support for the agreement.
As for the 2024 Democratic National Convention, Johnson said Milwaukee was not to his knowledge in the running for that event. .
After a successful bid for the 2020 DNC, Milwaukee was set to take center stage in national politics, but with on-going concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the convention became a mostly virtual event.
Chicago, Atlanta and New York City have all made official bids to host the DNC.
Contact Vanessa Swales at 414-308-5881 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Vanessa_Swales.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Cavalier Johnson expects common council support for RNC in Milwaukee