Rumors of the demise of the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville are premature, sources familiar with the planning say.
And just because Vice President Mike Pence is coming to Jacksonville Saturday doesn’t mean the White House is worried.
Pence will address the host committee in a closed press event Saturday afternoon. Sources say it is a speech to thank committee members for their hard work. More work is certain to be ahead, meanwhile.
The event has been dogged by numerous stories suggesting fundraising and logistics are wreaking havoc on the event, moved from Charlotte because of COVID-19 occupancy precautions only to find a pandemic in Jacksonville out of control, with a positive test rate well over 11% as of samples processed Friday.
The latest headline, from POLITICO Friday, suggested a “mad scramble for convention cash” that required the hiring of fundraiser Jeff Miller. Among the revelations: just “several million dollars” has been raised for the event, which needs tens of millions to look like a major league convention.
Miller, say sources familiar with the convention planning, has been aboard for a while, working with lobbyist and convention co-chair Brian Ballard.
One source said the media is struggling for topics this year related to the event, with the compressed timeframe of the Jacksonville planning shrouding proceedings in mystery, getting media to “savor every morsel.”
In that context, the alleged disconnect with Gov. Ron DeSantis has been overblown, they say, despite the Governor’s famed dislike for exiled consultant Susie Wiles, who is working on the Jacksonville convention effort.
The New York Times reported DeSantis is freezing his donors from backing the convention due to Wiles’ involvement, with whom he had a falling out soon after his 2018 campaign.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said “I don’t believe there’s any truth to that story,” when asked about it during a Friday press conference.
Curry, the co-chair of the host committee for the event, said “the first I’ve heard is reading it in the New York Times.”