As Democrats go virtual, Jacksonville plans full-scale Republican National Convention
2016 GOP Convention. Photo via AP.

Is Jacksonville ready? Can a full-scale RNC happen?

The Democratic National Convention will technically still be in Milwaukee, but as more of a hub for virtual events than a traditional event.

The decision throws Jacksonville, and its plans to have a full-scale nominating event for President Donald Trump at the largely-relocated Republican National Convention, into sharp relief.

With the COVID-19 pandemic thought to be under control, Jacksonville’s Republican Mayor, Lenny Curry, pushed for the relocation after North Carolina couldn’t guarantee a no-mask, full arena in late August.

Enter Duval County, a battleground area thrown into national prominence around the time Curry decided to open the beaches, with the #FloridaMorons tag trending on Twitter, and Gov. Ron DeSantis repeatedly invoking Jacksonville as a success story in his “safe, smart, step by step” reopening.

Jacksonville, like the rest of Florida, may have hoped it was done with the worst of COVID-19. But COVID-19 is not done with them.

Record high numbers of cases have become a daily expectation for reporters, who know the justifications by heart, the arguments that a case today isn’t the same as a case in March or April, because the average patient is younger and therefore less prone to “acuity.”

In Jacksonville, as the rest of the state, media voices anxieties about the case count and a 13% positive test rate (a staggering metric compared to just weeks ago, before bars reopened), anxieties that echo against the unique backdrop of a full-scale national convention.

Mayor Curry is less than moved by concerns that the RNC may be a super-spreader scene.

“We are still two months out from that event,” Curry said Wednesday, saying that “in the meantime, we have to focus on what’s happening in the city and what we can control.”

“Let’s do what we can today … and we’ll continue to monitor the situation,” Curry said.

He continued, chastising people for “going into a bar without a mask on” and then having the temerity to “complain” about the Convention.

Some are also concerned about the convention come to a city with a history replete with racist constructs and racial inequities, where protests over injustice persist.

Two polls, one from the University of North Florida and another from Republican Voters against Trump, show opposition to the event outweighs support, with the UNF poll spotlighting concerns that the event would be a virus vector and that public safety would be under siege amidst civil unrest.

The UNF poll showed that Mayor Curry himself was underwater with respondents, who at least in theory will never see his name on a ballot again.

Convention planners locally continue to move ahead, planning for an event drawing 15,000 to the arena alone. They did not comment when asked through a spokesperson Wednesday about the Democratic changes and how they would affect planning.

However, as the Jacksonville Daily Record reports, they have to move forward trying to fill gaps quickly to accommodate the event as if it will be full-scale regardless of where coronavirus is.

Mike Weinstein, who led the effort a decade and a half ago to stage Jacksonville’s only Super Bowl, spotlighted logistical hurdles.

“[Y]ou throw in a lack of timing and the pandemic issues, this is a real challenge. And I’m sure we’re up to it, but it’s going to take a lot of work.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Sonja Fitch

    June 25, 2020 at 10:37 am

    Lot of work? What a joke! It is open season on all in Jacksonville for looting Lenny to please goptrump cult sociopath racist sexist liar leader trump! Looting Lenny stfu! You are going to allow murder and mayhem for your ego and to please Desantis and Trump!

  • Frankie M.

    June 25, 2020 at 10:39 am

    Sooo…those people packed into beach bars like sardines should wear masks and remain socially distant while bitching about the RNC coming here but it’s ok to cram the arena with Trump loving mouthbreathers without masks or social distancing. Got it.

  • Ray Blacklidge

    June 25, 2020 at 10:52 am

    Why do people continue to question opening beaches. The warm weather kills Covid-19, the Saltwater both in the Ocean and in the air kills Covid-19, exercise helps your body to be able to fight off Covid-19, hello beaches are good, not bad for people during this crisis #morons. Who cares what the polls say, that’s why we have elected officials and aren’t running by everyone voting on every issue. The majority is sometimes wrong. #representativegovernment Having more cases will always happen. You can not hide from Covid-19, when you finally crawl out of your hole, Covid-19 will still be waiting for you. The key is keeping the hospitalizations and deaths from jumping up. We may have record new cases however we are averaging about 20 deaths a day verses about 40 deaths a day a month ago. Wake up America. Wash your hands, and if you can’t social distance wear a mask.

  • Robert Ellison

    June 25, 2020 at 11:30 am

    This article is obviously biased against Trump and Conservatives.

    Every statement is “tilted”.

    As for the “polls”, what a joke.

    UNF is the only “liberal-land” in Duval county, and everything from there is liberal-tainted.

    As for the “Republican Voters Against Trump”… 😉lmao….. All 3 of the members of that group could not cram themselves into a phone-booth. If they could find one.

    The bottom line is that the Covid 19 / Wuhan Plague is still around, but declining. The rising numbers of local cases is simply because of the rising amount of testing. So the rising testing is just showing us the “positive” percentage of the population that was “already there”, and NOT a rising amount of positives.


    I for one, am pleased that the Republican National Convention is coming here, and that our City Government has the intestinal fortitude to move forward, rather that cower, and fall backward like the Democrats.

  • Frankie M.

    June 26, 2020 at 10:30 am

    At least those folks from the RNC won’t have to go far to get tested for Covid…they can just walk across the street. #itseasierhere

    p.s. I don’t think anyone is arguing that reopening the beaches for exercise and fresh air is a bad idea but crowded restaurants and bars at the beach or anywhere else without the proper precautions is just asking for it.

  • Sonja Fitch

    June 27, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    little Marco, Moscow Mitch and traitor trump have known since March that Putin was paying bounty for killing us soldiers in Afghanistan ! Looting Lenny DO Not let that piece of scum Trump come into our military town!!!!!

Comments are closed.


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