Florida mayor whose wife is a possible Biden running mate puts the brakes on potentially hosting RNC convention

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A Florida mayor appears to be playing politics and refusing to host the Republican National Convention without a “sizeable” down payment upfront.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings thinks President Donald Trump’s campaign would need to pay “somewhere in the ballpark of $150-200 million” in order to secure the county and its convention center as a potential site for the RNC Convention this summer.

(Image: YouTube screenshot)

The Democrat mayor may be looking to score some political points with his party with his strong disapproval of the county being floated as one of the sites across Central and South Florida that may potentially host the RNC event. His wife, U.S. Rep. Val Demings, has been considered as a possible running mate for presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“We have not been contacted at all by anyone officially from the RNC about moving the convention here so anything that you hear is just mere speculation at this point,” Demings said at the county’s reopening task force meeting, according to ClickOrlando.

“I believe that a convention will likely have a lot of demonstrations and protests there. So any community that endeavors to host it, they gotta take the good with the bad, and there would be significant cost there, and I would not ask my commissioners to support bringing it here if we didn’t think that we could be reimbursed 100% of the cost of hosting and that’s a big unknown,” he added.

“There are many communities that have hosted these political conventions and at the end of it, were never made whole and when we have an economic crisis, we have our financial challenges, to make that kind of commitment that means a financial commitment, and I’m not ready to do that at this point until I have all the details,” Demings said.

Orange County, a tourist mecca with theme parks such as Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld, has taken a major hit because of the coronavirus pandemic, suffering major economic losses due to the closure of attractions and hotels typically booming with visitors.

The Orange County Convention Center came up as a possible venue for the Republican National Convention set for the week of August 24 after the president said Tuesday that he was looking for another state after North Carolina’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, would not guarantee that coronavirus restrictions would be lifted to allow a full stadium of people to attend.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis offered up the state as an alternative, and would even welcome the Democratic National Convention, as the economic impact of the events would prove valuable to the Sunshine State.

“I’ve talked with the folks at the RNC,” DeSantis said at a press conference Wednesday. “Orlando, just because of the hotel capacity and arena, would be an obvious place. I know Jacksonville is very much interested in having it.”

“This is almost three months out. We’re probably going to be able to pull it off,” DeSantis added. “But you know what? If it gets closer and you need to call an audible, heck, he has the CDC at his disposal. The president can tell us what needs to be done to be able to do it.”

Meanwhile, reaction to comments from Demings, whose wife is a former police chief and served as an impeachment manager in Trump’s Senate trial, raised some eyebrows on social media.

Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Frieda Powers

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