NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — From 2024 to 2028, the conversation over the Republican National Convention hasn’t really changed.
“I would say the Metro Council in particular was pretty decisively against the idea in 2024,” Metro Nashville Councilmember Freddie O’Connell (District 19) said. “I can’t imagine there’s something that’s going to change.”
The council voted down the RNC for 2024, saying it wouldn’t support any political conventions in the city, Democrat or Republican. Now though, Republicans in Tennessee and local leaders have renewed the conversation to potentially bring the event to Nashville in 2028.
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Axios Nashville first reported that the Republican National Committee gave the city until Oct. 15 to submit an application and that Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. CEO Butch Spyridon reached out to the committee on behalf of his organization about the event.
O’Connell contends the decision to vote down the event in 2024 wasn’t partisan. “I don’t think it’s a partisan question,” he said. “What I heard from colleagues going through the last several months was no major political conventions of any kind.”
The Metro Councilmember added that Tennessee has plenty of other large convention centers and cities that could potentially host the event.
“If you wanted to do it at the expo hall in Williamson County where I’ve been many times for the Williamson County fair, it’s just down the road, I’m sure they’d have a lovely time,” O’Connell said. “Historic Franklin is right around the corner, and they can still make it to Broadway by evening.”
The notion that the Republican party could look outside a bigger city was one that irked Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville).
“That’s just them talking a lot of nonsense because there would be 20,000-40,000 people at the conference,” Sexton said. “Show me another conference that can host something as big as Bridgestone that can hold everybody in it with the media coverage. That’s just them talking out the side of their mouth.”
Some council members say if they do reject the RNC once again, retaliation could be coming their way. Sexton confirmed Republicans have had conversations about it but wouldn’t divulge what it might look like.
“I will say we’re not going to [show] our cards on exactly what we’re going to do,” he said. “But, I will tell you that Metro government is not doing what’s best for them economically. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Sexton also took issue with some of the conversations between the council and the state Republican caucus. He said the council shouldn’t be negotiating and seeing what it can receive in return for its acceptance of the conference.
“At this point, the state of Tennessee is not going to negotiate. They can tell us no, they can tell us yes,” Sexton said. “But in the big scheme of things, what this is for Metro is just politicalness. They think if they turn it down, they’re going to get re-elected. Well, good luck to them.”
News 2 reached out to the Metro Nashville Council, Governor Bill Lee’s (R-Tennessee) office, and Spyridon himself for comment on the matter.
T.J. Ducklo, the council’s chief communications officer wrote, “Nashville is open for business, but there has been no meaningful effort or engagement to address any of the concerns raised since Metro Council’s vote just a few months ago.”
Lee’s office said it has no comment but is watching closely.
Spyridon’s office, however, confirmed to News 2 that they had reached out about the RNC and confirmed the deadline, but did not have any comment beyond that.