RNC 2024: Milwaukee's bid on hold, $6M from convention sought

Milwaukee's bid to host the 2024 Republican National Convention is now on hold after a Common Council committee's actions Wednesday.

VISIT Milwaukee has been courting the RNC for months, but some Common Council members are now considering a change that could be a dealbreaker: They want the RNC to pay Milwaukee $6 million.

"The city of Milwaukee gets nothing. We get nothing as a city," Alderman Bob Baumann said.

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The Common Council's Steering and Rules Committee met Wednesday to discuss the RNC's draft contract. Concerns were raised that while the city would carry a big responsibility for things like security, the city itself would make almost no money. 

That is because the state restricts the county from adding its own sales tax. The Republican-controlled state Legislature has denied that change for years, telling Milwaukee to fix its budget problems without raising taxes.

"They want to roll out the red carpet after treating us pretty poorly for 12 years," said Baumann.

After several hours in closed session, the committee had a new plan – asking the convention's host committee to raise an additional $6 million to pay the city of Milwaukee.

"I don’t think that’s asking for too much," said Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa. 

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Alderman Michael Murphy was the only Common Council member to vote against the idea. He doesn't want to pass up the millions of dollars that would go to Milwaukee's businesses.

"I’ve been informed that that would kill the deal in terms of the negotiation with the host committee. I’m not willing to risk this deal on that," he said.

Common Council President José Pérez will now decide when, or if, to bring the contract back to a full vote.

2024 Republican National Convention (RNC)

"We didn’t say ‘no’ today. We asked them to answer more questions and get clarity and ensure that the city of Milwaukee is taken into consideration," said Pérez.

FOX6 asked the host committee's secretary after the meeting to answer a few questions about it all. He said he didn't want to talk and then walked away. During the meeting, he said the RNC's deadline to have a contract is next Friday, June 3. Pérez said he does not care about that deadline because they just found out about it.

When Mayor Cavalier Johnson spoke with FOX6 News Tuesday, he said he expected the contract to pass Wednesday's Steering and Rules Committee meeting – but that didn't happen. FOX6 reached out to the mayor's office for comment following the committee's vote, but did not immediately hear back.