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Charlotte, N.C., Signals That It Wants To Host GOP Convention


The Republican National Committee is meeting this week in Austin, Texas, where it's expected to pick a city for its 2020 convention. The choice is reportedly down to two cities right now - Las Vegas and Charlotte, N.C., where the city council voted narrowly yesterday in favor of the idea. David Boraks, from member station WFAE in Charlotte, has more.

DAVID BORAKS, BYLINE: City leaders said Monday's 6 to 5 vote was an important signal to the Republican National Committee that Charlotte actually wants the event. It came after two weeks of intense public debate among citizens and city council members. The debate was led by several young council Democrats elected only last fall. One of them is Justin Harlow, who said he didn't want to endorse what he called President Trump's divisive statements about minorities, women, immigrants and the disabled.


JUSIN HARLOW: I'd no sooner bring Donald Trump and the RNC to Charlotte, to the home that I choose and love where my wife and I are raising our black son, any sooner than I would support a Klan rally in this city.

BORAKS: More than 100 citizens spoke during a two hour public hearing before the vote. And like the council, the crowd appeared about evenly divided between opponents and supporters. One supporter is Mohammad Jenation, president of the local Hotel and Tourism Alliance. He says the RNC will bring economic benefits, just like those when Charlotte hosted the 2012 Democratic National Convention.


MOHAMMAD JENATIAN: The DNC validated our city as a major convention destination. And we're still benefiting from those conventions.

BORAKS: Other backers made political arguments, like restaurant owner J. Sam Daniels. Although he's a Republican, he says he was a big supporter of the Democratic Convention in 2012.


J. SAM DANIELS: I did everything I could to make sure the DNC convention was here. I ask that you to do the same for me and my party. I ask that you vote yes.


BORAKS: Charlotte's Democratic mayor Vi Lyles has pushed the city's bid even as some in her own party questioned it. After the vote, she responded to some of her critics.


VI LYLES: So I want you to know that hosting the RNC is not an endorsement of the administration - the current administration. I believe that hosting the Republican convention, the RNC, is about what opportunities we can make of it after this very, very difficult time of deliberation.

BORAKS: The RNC summer meeting, where a decision on a convention site is expected, runs through Saturday in Austin. For NPR News, I'm David Boraks in Charlotte. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more in our Climate News section. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation, and business.