Democrats awarded their 2024 presidential nominating convention to Chicago on Tuesday, opting for the largest city in the Midwest over the southern metropolis of Atlanta, party officials announced.
The event — which has been blessed by President Biden, who is expected to run for reelection — will be held Aug. 19-22, 2024, at the United Center, an arena with a capacity of nearly 21,000 that is home to the Chicago Bulls basketball team and the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team.
Democratic leaders have opted for a solid-blue city in a Democratic-controlled state late in the summer. But by choosing the nation’s third largest city, Democrats hope to highlight the importance of the Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania in their electoral coalition. Biden won all four states in 2020, and his advisers see a repeat victory as key to their success in 2024.
“Chicago is a great choice to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention,” Biden said in a statement. “Democrats will gather to showcase our historic progress including building an economy from the middle out and bottom up, not from the top down.”
Party officials had waited until the April 4 Chicago mayoral election to make a decision. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), who has positioned himself as a potential presidential contender if Biden did not run, had lobbied heavily for the event and promised to fundraise for its costs. The other finalists were Atlanta, the largest city in an increasingly competitive state with a Republican-controlled state government, and New York City, which was considered a distant third.
“Our great global city and its diverse communities, unparalleled hospitality, and world renowned venues shows off the best of America and its people represent the heart of our country,” Pritzker said in a statement. His family has long controlled the Hyatt Hotel network, and his sister, Penny Pritzker, served as commerce secretary under President Barack Obama.
Republicans, who are also focused on the Upper Midwest in 2024, have previously announced their nominating convention for July 15-18 of that year in Milwaukee. The earlier date will allow the GOP nominee earlier access to national party resources under campaign finance rules. The 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris are scheduled to take place from July 26 to Aug. 11, between the two major party nominating conventions.
Democratic officials traveled to Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and New York to scout convention locations. Chicago and Atlanta were considered the leading finalists, though some in the labor movement raised concerns about holding the event in Georgia, where most of the hotels do not have organized unions.
“We look forward to welcoming allies of labor from across the country to show how the skilled trade show workers and folks in the hospitality industry deliver every day,” said Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, in a statement.
Other Democrats viewed Atlanta as the smarter political choice given Georgia’s electoral importance and its razor-thin margin for Biden in the 2020 election. There were also concerns that Chicago’s crime issues could play into Republicans’ criticism of Democratic-led cities.
But in Chicago, Pritzker assured national Democrats that the host committee would not have any issues raising money for the convention, which can cost up to $100 million.
“Chicago is a world-class city that looks like America and demonstrates the values of the Democratic Party,” Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson said upon the announcement of the convention location, which was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Tyler Pager and Kim Bellware contributed to this report.