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Democrats, Republicans: Canceling Jacksonville RNC Was Right Decision

Jacksonville's Downtown Northbank skyline is pictured along with TIAA Bank Field, Daily's Place, VyStar Veteran's Memorial Arena and 121 Financial Field. The venues had been scheduled to host portions of the RNC.
Jacksonville's Downtown Northbank skyline is pictured along with TIAA Bank Field, Daily's Place, VyStar Veteran's Memorial Arena and 121 Financial Field. The venues had been scheduled to host portions of the RNC.

There is near-universal agreement among politicians and officials that President Donald Trump’s decision to call off Jacksonville’s portion of the Republican National Convention was the right thing to do.

"President Trump has finally listened to science and conventional wisdom to cancel the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville,” the Duval Democrats said in a statement.

The party laid the blame for a “potential crisis” on Trump, along with Gov. Ron DeSantis and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, who are all Republicans.

“Governor Ron DeSantis and Mayor Lenny Curry rejected our calls. It’s sad that the leaders who created this potential crisis didn’t have the leadership in our city and state to put a stop to the convention weeks ago,” the Democrats said.

The Jacksonville 2020 Host Committee had this to say about the convention’s cancellation: “President Trump made the absolute right decision for the health and safety of the people of Jacksonville and of the entire state of Florida. The rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Florida is serious and the President and the RNC have demonstrated great concern for the safety of all Floridians.”

Jacksonville Sherriff Mike Williams, who said earlier this week that security plans for Jacksonville’s part of the RNC had reached “ a point of no return,” issued a joint statement with Mayor Curry:

"We appreciate President Donald Trump considering our public health and safety concerns in making this incredibly difficult decision. As always, in Jacksonville, public safety is our number one priority. President Trump has once again reaffirmed his commitment to the safety of Jacksonville, Florida, and the people of the United States of America."

Curry and Williams are Republicans.

Political analyst Rick Mullaney, who is the founding director of Jacksonville’s Public Policy Institute at Jacksonville University, told WJCT News partner News4Jax that he agrees canceling the Jacksonville piece of the convention was the right decision.

“Some people may view this as a missed opportunity. I think a large number will view this as we dodged a bullet, and I think there will be a sigh of relief," he said.

Florida’s Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo had this to say: “I’m glad Donald Trump took his head out of the sand long enough to realize what a predictable, preventable disaster he was about to inflict on the city of Jacksonville. His ego-driven political stunt has wasted precious time and resources during a pandemic, and Floridians will remember his reckless leadership in November.”

NPR reported that delegates to the convention will still meet in Charlotte, N.C., to hold small, formal business meetings as planned, but Trump's keynote Jacksonville speech will no longer take place.

"We have said all along that Republican leaders would put the safety and security of our citizens above all else. While this was not the outcome we were hoping for, we know that President Trump made this decision with the knowledge that he was doing what is best for the people of Jacksonville,” said Republican Party of Duval County Chairman Dean Black.

The Jacksonville City Council met Friday to ask for an accounting of how much time and money was diverted to RNC planning and how much could be reimbursed.  A full report on that part of the story is available here.

Before the cancellation, the council had been scheduled Friday to hear more about a $33 million emergency bill that Curry was backing for Jacksonville’s portion of the convention. Before the convention was canceled, the bill had faced tough opposition, with City Council President Tommy Hazouri's speaking out against it

The Jacksonville RNC cancellation was also the lead discussion topic on Friday’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross Media Roundtable, which can be heard here.

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