Jeramey Jannene

City Wins 2020 Democratic Convention

Barrett and other leaders help city beat out Miami and Houston for national convention.

By - Mar 11th, 2019 11:57 am
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Fiserv Forum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Fiserv Forum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

All eyes will be on Milwaukee in July 2020.

From July 13th through July 16th the city will play host to the Democratic National Convention.

The political convention, to be centered around Fiserv Forum, is likely to take on outsized importance as a large field of candidates are running for the party’s presidential nomination. Wisconsin and other Midwestern states also are key targets for Democrats in the 2020 election, with Hillary Clinton failing to win several Democratic-leaning states in the 2016 election.

Ironically, Mayor Tom Barrett was in the concourse of the new arena when he received a call confirming the city had won the convention. Having walked up to speak with the press following his annual State of the City speech, Barrett was pulled away for a phone call. In the time he was on the phone news broke that the Democratic National Committee had selected Milwaukee to host its convention beating out finalists Miami and Houston. Barrett had just concluded his 35-minute speech stating that he had no news to report on the convention.

The mayor came back and finished his press scrum, but pushed off questions about the convention until an afternoon press conference. “I’m even more excited about the state of the city right now,” Barrett said. “As I’ve told people, this is a city that fights back. We continue to fight back.”

Fighting back was one of the key things the city had to do during the bidding process. Questions were raised about the number and quality of available hotel rooms, regional transportation network and the city’s overall size. But Barrett, who multiple sources report has been regularly fielding questions about the city’s amenities and bid details, was able to put those questions to rest.

The Milwaukee bid team was originally led by Milwaukee Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Barrett. Senator Tammy Baldwin, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, Governor Tony Evers and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes were later added to the leadership group.

According to Lasry, the convention is expected to cost $50 million to $80 million to stage, but will provide a $200 million economic benefit. Lasry, who served as a delegate at the 2016 convention, is a political veteran having worked in the Obama administration. His father, Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, is a prominent Democratic donor, especially on Wall Street.

The city announced its bid in February 2018Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said at the time: “I am here representing the green party. That is the opportunity the convention presents to bring tens of thousands people to the city to spend money and create jobs.” An affiliate of the MMAC is serving as the fiscal agent for the effort.

The Philadelphia convention, held in late July 2016, attracted approximately 50,000 attendees, including 4,763 delegates. Among those delegates were Moore, Barrett and Lasry. The federal government allocated $43 million to the city for security purposes. The 2016 Republican National Convention was held in Cleveland.

Hosting the convention in a swing state isn’t a guarantee of securing the state’s electoral votes. The 2008 Republican National Convention was held in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the state still went to Democrat Barack Obama. Similarly, the 2012 Democratic National Convention was held in Charlotte, North Carolina and Republican Mitt Romney ended up carrying the state.

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More about the 2020 Democratic National Convention

Categories: Politics

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