NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — With the location of the Republican National Convention on the line, Tennessee lawmakers said they don't want to see it slip by them.
Metro Council members withdrew the agreement bill that would allow for the convention to come to Nashville and use city resources, namely security. The Republican National Committee Host Committee for Nashville asked Councilman Robert Swope to withdraw the agreement. Councilwoman Sharon Hurt also withdrew her legislation that would have asked to disavow the convention coming to the city.
If Nashville leaders balk, those in the Tennessee General Assembly have hinted at a special session. A special session hasn't happened since 2021 to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. For a special session to happen, one of two actions need to take place — the governor weighs in or two-thirds of the members elected to each chamber draw up a petition.
“The speaker and the General Assembly fully support either the RNC or the DNC bringing its 2024 Convention to Nashville," said Doug Kufner, spokesperson for House Speaker Cameron Sexton. "The General Assembly has already approved funding in the budget for either convention. Speaker Sexton is watching closely as to how some Metro Council members are playing politics on a massive economic and international public relations win for our state and Nashville. Hopefully, bipartisanship will prevail, and in the next two weeks, we will have a better idea of what needs to be done — if anything — to secure the convention."
During the withdrawal, Swope said the RNC and Metro had to work out issues based on security logistics.
The tug of war between Republican lawmakers and Metro Council leaders hasn't been quiet, with both sides venting frustration.
"What happened on Tuesday was a rejection on the convention contract. There isn’t a viable path forward," Councilman Bob Mendes said on his social media accounts.
Previously, the Tennessee GOP and the Tennessee Democratic Party executive directors both said they would like conventions for both parties to come to Nashville in the next decade.
However, some council members have been vocal they don't want to see the convention come to Nashville regardless, which has Senate lawmakers also keeping their eye to see how the situation unfolds.
"I think Nashville would be a perfect location for the 2024 Republican Convention," Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said. "It would be a great showcase for the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee. The leaders of both political parties support this effort. A major political party convention in Nashville would not only be an excellent economic driver, it would send a message that Nashville deserves a seat at the table alongside our nation’s greatest cities. I am greatly disappointed to hear that some on the Metro Council are reticent to support the effort. I am hopeful Nashville’s leaders will reconsider their positions and tactics and that the overall effort to bring major party conventions to Nashville will not be affected. If Metro persists in attempting to torpedo this effort, the state will have no choice but to explore alternative options to bring major party conventions to our state.”
Mayor John Cooper's office said late Tuesday night hours after council's decision that he agreed with how the bill was handled.
“For months, Mayor Cooper has expressed serious concerns, both privately and publicly, about the cost and security challenges of either party’s convention coming to Nashville, and respects the decision to withdraw the ordinance," officials in the mayor's office said.
Milwaukee is also a contender for the convention. That city's council unanimously approved an agreement welcoming the RNC, according to CBS 58.
Council could potentially take up the RNC agreement bill in mid-July at its next meeting.