'We cannot wait to bring the world to Chicago': Democratic leaders debrief after city picked for 2024 convention

A bright sun and a stunning skyline greeted Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison Wednesday outside the Shedd Aquarium while a stiff Lake Michigan breeze snatched away a page from his speech.

"Chicago the Windy City is on mark today," Harrison said as state, city and suburban leaders exhaled at a news conference a day after securing a political holy grail - hosting the Democratic National Convention in August 2024.

"This dream and this quest began well over a year ago," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, giving credit to Sen. Tammy Duckworth, "who lit a spark" that triggered the effort to land the convention estimated to bring 50,000 visitors to Chicago for President Joe Biden's nomination.

Duckworth, a DNC vice chair and Hoffman Estates Democrat, said, "We cannot wait to bring the world to Chicago and Chicago to the world in 2024."

One selling point to the DNC was that the Midwest, and Chicago in particular, is "a stronghold of labor," she noted. "We protect workers' rights because we know that working families are the backbone of our nation's economy."

The celebration followed a year of lobbying by organizers who now face months of tougher challenges ranging from fundraising to dealing with crime in a city that will be showcased to the world.

Regarding funding for the convention, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he and the committee will work "extraordinarily hard to raise all dollars that are necessary."

"Chicago was the city that broke even at the Democratic National Convention in 1996," he said. "It's been hard for conventions all over the country, Democratic and Republican, to break even. It's a difficult thing. But here in Chicago, we have a business community and a very giving community that wants to stand up for the best things for the city of Chicago. We've even received commitments since (Wednesday) to make that happen."

Asked about crime in Chicago and safety at the convention, Lightfoot said homicides, shootings and carjackings had decreased from a year ago.

"We're going to be working hand-in-glove with our federal partners, with the Secret Service, with the FBI and others to make sure that the convention sites themselves are secure" and attendees are safe, she said.

The city routinely handles large events such as Lollapalooza and will host NASCAR races in July, Lightfoot said.

"We will do everything we can with the convention to make sure we pull it off without a hitch," she said. "I do not have any concerns about that." Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson, who will be sworn in May 15, said his administration would "collaborate and work with all the entities that are available to us to ensure a very healthy, strong and vibrant city. But as you all know ... safe cities are safe when we have investments, so the Democratic National Convention coming to Chicago is one of the embodiments of one of the best investments you can make."

The convention will be held at the United Center Aug. 19-22 with some activities at McCormick Place.

Chicago to host 2024 Democratic National Convention

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