Dems Pick Chicago for 2024, Target of GOP Attacks About Crime

  • With Chicago, Democrats chose a 2024 convention site that signals the significance of the Midwest.
  • But the city has also been at the center of Democrats’ weakest spot with voters: crime.
  • The issue defined the last mayoral election, and Republicans have long used it against Dems.

With Chicago, Democrats chose a 2024 national convention site that signals the significance of the Midwest to the party, but also has been at the center of the party’s dilemma on the issue of crime.

Crime was a defining issue of the city’s latest mayoral election that upended the city’s Democratic leadership. And Republicans have long hammered the city’s crime rates to put Democrats on the defensive. 

Shortly after Democrats announced the location, House Republicans’ campaign arm fired off a statement with the city’s most recent violent crime statistics, mocking the city as “crime-infested.”

“What’s the bigger concern: sirens drowning out nominating speeches or what items attendees must leave at home to make room for their bulletproof vest in their suitcase?” said Will Reinert, spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Chicago wins out

Democrats’ choice of Chicago over two other contenders — Atlanta and New York — acknowledges the Midwest’s role in President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory over then-President Donald Trump. The city’s bid was supported by a wide range of midwestern Democratic leaders.

The convention scheduled for August 19 to 22 will be held at the United Center, the largest arena in the United States. Up to 50,000 visitors to the city are expected for the convention.

“Chicago is a vibrant, metropolitan city with neighborhoods that reflect the diversity of America,” said Natalie Edelstein, a spokesperson for the city’s convention bid. “Not only have we hosted every president since JFK, we also have a strong tradition of hosting large-scale events that safely welcome guests from around the world.” 

But the crime rate has been a major concern for the city’s voters. Murders, criminal sexual assaults, and aggravated batteries were down by the end of last year, but robberies, burglaries, thefts, and motor vehicle thefts were on the rise. The city’s nearly 700 murders last year were the most for any city in the nation, according to one report.

The city’s mayor, Democrat Lori Lightfoot, lost her bid for reelection in February amid crime concerns. Voters ultimately chose a progressive county board commissioner, Brandon Johnson, who embraced a holistic approach to crime prevention and public safety over his tough-on-crime runoff election opponent, Paul Vallas, a former public schools executive. Johnson takes office in May.

Chicagoans overwhelmingly support policies to address root causes of crime versus a tough-on-crime strategy, according to a survey by GQR and Vera Action on the eve of the election.

GOP immediately pivots to attacks on Dem’s crime policies 

The NRCC used the announcement of the convention location to once again hit House Democrats for overwhelmingly opposing a GOP effort to strike down changes to the District of Columbia’s criminal code that they considered more lenient. Democrats considered it an attack on DC’s home rule, but the GOP effort ultimately succeeded.

A DNC spokesperson told Insider: “Every single Republican in Congress voted against funding in the American Rescue Plan that has provided support to local law enforcement, and MAGA House Republicans have proposed a budget that would cut funding for law enforcement and make our communities less safe. And just in the last week, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis have called for defunding federal law enforcement.”

Biden called Chicago a “great choice” in a statement. He called Gov. J.B. Pritzker to give him the news about Chicago’s selection on Tuesday morning before leaving for Ireland, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Between 1832 and 2020, Chicago hosted 25 conventions — 11 Democratic and 14 Republican, according to the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The 1968 Democratic 1968 convention led to violent clashes between police and protesters, but their more recent convention there in 1996 was considered to be successful.

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