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Republicans pass on Pittsburgh for 2024 national convention

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is out of the running to host the 2024 Republican National Convention.

Visit Pittsburgh said that they were notified by the bid committee on Friday that the city had officially been removed from consideration for the 2024 RNC. The agency also said the committee did not provide a specific reason for the decision.

However, Sam DeMarco, Allegheny County council member and chair of the Allegheny County Republicans, said he found out Friday morning that the city was out of the running.

"I knew we were going to have problems," Demarco said.

Other cities were prepared to spend $250,000 on receptions for attendees of the RNC's winter meeting, but Pittsburgh did not, according to DeMarco.

"We're trying to build that, but until we do it's hard to be seen as a serious player," said DeMarco. "We were the only city that didn't hold a reception, and if I'm an RNC member that might be an indication that Pittsburgh wasn't quite ready."

DeMarco said a funding mechanism for that event was not in place.

"And having not tapped into the donor or corporate community, there was no money there," he said.

Allegheny County Councilor Bethany Hallam, who proposed a measure expressing opposition to the city's bid, said more elected officials should have been involved.

"I think we should have learned our lesson from the Amazon [HQ2] debacle that we shouldn't leap to conclusions about something being good," said Hallam.

Some estimates put the economic benefit of hosting the RNC at $200 million.

"I don’t believe that $200 million dollars was going to reach my neighbors' pockets," Hallam said. "We had this $200 million figure floating around without anyone questioning what was being asked of us."

She was worried the effects of a heightened police presence and other potential downsides had not been fully considered.

“While I still had questions regarding the RNC’s impact on safety, COVID-19 mitigation, and effect on Pittsburgh, I am committed to bringing in events that showcase Pittsburgh’s incredible values," Mayor Ed Gainey said.

After taking office, Gainey signed a letter supporting the bid.

This story will be updated.

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.