Legislature Could Hold Special Session To Go After Republican Convention

Photo: Speaker of the Tennessee House Cameron Sexton, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, and Gov. Bill Lee. Photo Credit: John Partipilo

By Sam Stockard [Tennessee Lookout -CC BY-NC-ND 4.0] –

Key Republican legislators confirmed Friday they are considering holding a special session to bring the Republican presidential convention to Nashville and possibly penalize the Metro Nashville Council for rejecting it.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton and the General Assembly “fully support” either the Republican National Committee or Democratic National Committee bringing their 2024 convention to Nashville, spokesman Doug Kufner said Friday.

Axios Nashville first reported on the potential for a special session that would consider legislation bypassing the Metro Nashville Council and enabling the Legislature to reach a deal with the Convention and Visitors Bureau for a host agreement.

Potential retaliation against the Metro Nashville Council could involve pulling state support for a road along the Cumberland River’s east bank as part of Mayor John Cooper’s redevelopment plan, according to the report.

It would be difficult to rope enough lawmakers into coming back to Nashville for a special session while they’re campaigning for the fall election. And there is some talk that this could be a bluff to force the Metro Council to revive the matter at its next meeting later in July.

Nevertheless, House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally indicated Friday such a move could be made.

“The General Assembly has already approved funding in the budget for either convention. Speaker Sexton is watching closely as to how some Metro Council members are playing politics on a massive economic and international public relations win for our state and Nashville. Hopefully, bipartisanship will prevail, and in the next two weeks, we will have a better idea of what needs to be done – if anything – to secure the convention,” Kufner said in a statement.

McNally already said he believes Nashville would be a “perfect location” for the 2024 Republican convention, one that would “showcase” Nashville and Tennessee. He was disappointed some council members opposed approval of a contract to bring the RNC to town.

A Nashville host committee has been competing with Milwaukee to lure the convention, which could bring 40,000 people and millions of dollars in related spending.

“If Metro persists in attempting to torpedo this effort, the state will have no choice but to explore alternative options to bring major party conventions to our state,” McNally said Friday.

Council member Robert Swope, who pulled an RNC contract from consideration earlier this week, said this week he’s working on details and hopes to bring it back July 19. 

But Council member Sharon Hurt had introduced an ordinance opposing the effort to attract the RNC before Swope took his ordinance off the table. She later withdrew it.

Hurt said she opposes action to lure either the Republican or Democratic conventions.

“I think that Nashville is postured … to work ourselves out, join together where we need to heal the communities as we should, and I think that it’s a lot of unrest right now surrounding many things that have occurred,” Hurt said.

In the aftermath of Roe v. Wade being overturned and numerous mass shootings nationwide, many people are leery about political confrontations that could turn violent.

Axios reported a spokesman for Gov. Bill Lee said “nothing is off the table” when it comes to holding a special session.

Either the governor could call a special session with a specific purpose or the Legislature could be called back to town with a two-thirds vote of both chambers.

About the Author: Sam Stockard is a veteran Tennessee reporter and editor, having written for the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where he served as lead editor when the paper won an award for being the state’s best Sunday newspaper two years in a row. He has led the Capitol Hill bureau for The Daily Memphian. His awards include Best Single Editorial from the Tennessee Press Association. Follow Stockard on Twitter @StockardSam

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