This week, the City of Atlanta lost their bid to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention to Chicago. New York City was also in the running. This will be the Democratic National Committee’s first convention since 2016, after the 2020 affair was scaled back considerably due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The last time Atlanta hosted a Democratic National Convention was July 18-21, 1988 at the venerable Omni Arena.

According to sources, Chicago checked the boxes with regards to logistics (the city is served by two airports), hotel rooms (downtown Chicago has more than 45,000 hotel rooms), and has previously hosted both major party conventions.

“It’s no secret that the Midwest is key to holding the White House and electing Democrats up and down the ticket in 2024. Now, after all, Chicago and the entire Midwest looks like America and is the capitol at the heart of the nation,” Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday.

One thing is true: Democrats’ hopes of winning in 2024 rests on the Blue Wall. Recently, liberal judge Janet Protasiewicz won a seat on Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court, flipping the body’s ideological majority. Additionally, the Governors of Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin implored Democratic National Committee Chairman Jamie Harrison as they argued for Chicago because the midwest is central to the Democrats outlook in 2024. 

What’s also true: Georgia has become a player in national politics.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens is joined by Democratic Party of Georgia Chair and U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams at the Democratic Party of Georgia state dinner on Friday, May 13, 2022 in Atlanta. (Photo By: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

During the 2022 Democratic state party dinner, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams jointly announced the City of Atlanta would bid for the 2024 Democratic National Convention. During their speech, Dickens and Williams acknowledged the impact of the late John Lewis while reminding everyone that Georgia is becoming a purple state on the national level. They both used the phrase, “Atlanta Influences Everything,” a popular sentence that describes the city’s supremacy in pop culture and now in politics.

Senators Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock appear at the Juneteenth 2022 Parade in Downtown East Point on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Photo Courtesy: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

In a little more than two months after the announcement, Atlanta rolled out the red carpet for the Democratic brass. DNC Chairman Jamie Harrison and his leadership committee were wowed at the connectivity and cooperation between State Farm Arena, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the Georgia World Congress Center. They marveled at Atlanta’s footprint because of the accessibility of the hotels and the tourist attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coke, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights as possible sites for smaller meetings and breakout sessions.  

One of the reasons Atlanta fell out of the running was due to the fact Governor Pritzker guaranteed the DNC would not go into debt while hosting the convention in Chicago. When the convention was hosted in the United Center in 1996, the DNC broke even.

Additionally, the DNC was worried about the labor unions’ smaller footprint in Georgia compared to Illinois and New York. During the visits, there were concerns about the Atlanta hotels that did not have labor union representation. For the Democratic brass, staying in hotels that employs individuals backed by labor unions is a serious matter of conscience. Conversely, Georgia is a right-to-work state, and therefore, the contributions from labor unions would have been reduced.

For reference, it was the pro-labor movement that propelled Brandon Johnson to victory in the recent Chicago mayor’s race on April 4th. 

“Illinois is home to a bustling metropolis, a strong rural tradition, thriving suburbs, not to mention a long-standing history rooted in civil rights and workers’ rights and reproductive rights,” Governor Pritzker added.

U.S. Congresswoman Nikema Williams, Odie Donald, and Special Advisor to the President of the United States, Mitch Landrieu, right, tour the Five Points MARTA Station on Thursday, August 11, 2022. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

While Georgia Democrats have sent Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael G. Warnock to the United States Senate in recent times, and the Biden Administration has representatives in the state of Georgia nearly every week, the Republicans currently control the Governor’s Mansion and the Legislature. While Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens referred to Georgia as “the battleground that would decide the 2024 election,” the moment Stacey Abrams lost her rematch to Republican incumbent governor Brian P. Kemp in November 2022 certainly dampened the outlook of Atlanta’s prospects. 

During Governor Kemp’s tenure, the Conservatives’ grip on the Peach State’s political scene has grown. For example, Georgia has seen the women’s right to choose become severely restricted, funding for public education was almost curtailed during 2023’s Georgia General Assembly legislative session due to a concerted push for school choice, and equitable access to the ballot box has been made tougher in Georgia’s larger counties, as well as the City of Atlanta. 

By comparison, Illinois has banned assault rifles, codified abortion rights, approved a $15 per hour minimum wage, and allowed gender-affirming procedures.

Democratic National Committee Chairman, Jamie Harrison (center), delivers a speech at State Farm Arena on Thursday, July 28, 2022. (Photo courtesy: Itoro N. Umontuen)

Atlanta’s bid was exceptional. No stone was left unturned, the heavy hitters in Georgia’s statewide Democratic base showed up, answered questions, and made themselves available for DNC Chairman Jamie Harrison and his operatives. And yes, Harrison’s mother stressed to him how important it was for Atlanta to host this event as an acknowledgment to the city’s role in the Civil Rights Movement and the South’s growing influence in national politics.

“While it is disappointing that we will not gather in Atlanta in 2024 you can count on southern Democrats to be there with bells and whistles on to help you and @JoeBiden cause a little #GoodTrouble2024 in Chicago!” former Sen. Doug Jones (D-Alabama), tweeted Tuesday. 

In the end, it was the Georgia Conservatives’ tight grip on Peach State politics that severely hampered the City of Atlanta’s chances at hosting the 2024 Democratic National Convention. 

“Driven by the strength of our richly diverse coalition of voters, Georgia has become the country’s premier battleground state, delivering historic wins for Democrats and changing the trajectory of our entire nation,” U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams said. “Georgia represents the future of the Democratic Party — and we will continue to invest in that future by working to elect Democrats up and down the ballot in 2024.”

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...