Southern Democrats rally for Atlanta 2024 convention

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Southern Democrats are banding together to urge President Joe Biden to select Atlanta for the 2024 Democratic National Convention, according to a letter obtained by NBC News, arguing the choice would solidify the party's gains in Georgia and demonstrate commitment to the entire region.

Atlanta is one of the three finalists to host the convention, along with New York City and Chicago. Houston was also in the running until recently; its mayor has now joined Atlanta’s bid, adding his name to the letter.

The letter, sent Monday to Biden and Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison, is signed by more than 65 current and former Democratic senators, congressmen, governors, mayors and legislators from a dozen Southern states.

Notable names include Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, along with top Biden allies like South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn and former Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is now a top DNC official and Biden political adviser.

“Democratic turnout in the state of Georgia is the single greatest reason that you and Vice President Harris are in the White House today instead of Donald Trump,” the officials wrote, referring to Biden's 2020 victory in the historically red state.

And they noted that the elections of Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in January 2021 gave Democrats control of the Senate, arguing, “Everything we have accomplished as a party since ... can be traced back to Georgia.”

Former Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones helped organize the letter and is leading Atlanta’s efforts to win support from Democrats across the South, who often feel written off by the national party.

“Selecting Atlanta will inspire Democrats in other competitive Southern states to run, to organize, to fundraise, and to volunteer in what is now truly fertile Democratic territory,” the letter added.

All three finalist cities have been ramping up their lobbying effort ahead of a decision expected sometime this spring.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens — who last year replaced Keisha Lance Bottoms after Biden tapped her to lead the White House Office of Public Engagement — personally lobbied Biden when he visited Atlanta on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

That day, Dickens and several of his predecessors took out a full-page ad in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reading, “President Biden, cement your legacy, choose Atlanta.”

Behind the scenes, Jones, Dickens and others like Ossoff and Warnock have been working the phones, focused especially on Biden’s inner circle, such as confidante Anita Dunn, chief of staff Ron Klain, and political adviser Jen O'Malley Dillon, according to a source familiar with the effort.

Still, Atlanta’s rivals have plenty of boldfaced names supporting their bids.

New York is home to both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has offered to tap his vast personal wealth to help raise the massive sums necessary to run such a large event.

And proponents of both New York and Chicago have argued their cities and states better reflect Democratic values, especially when it comes to organized labor, with union leaders from both pointedly noting that Georgia is a right-to-work state where Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and the GOP state Legislature ultimately hold more power than Atlanta’s municipal leaders.

The targets of the lobbying blitz make it clear whom most Democrats believe will make the decision on the 2024 convention site: Biden.

While the decision is technically up to the DNC, the party’s apparatus is entirely reoriented around supporting the president’s re-election, so decisions on the convention and primary calendar are ultimately up to the White House.

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