DNC Emphasizing Security, Inclusivity for 2020 Convention

CEO of next year’s 2020 committee says he wants the world to see Milwaukee as locals do.

By - Jun 20th, 2019 11:24 am
Fiserv Forum. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

Fiserv Forum. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

It might still be a year off, but Joe Solmonese is quick to point out there is much work to be done behind-the-scenes as Milwaukee enters the international spotlight and hosts the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

And the planning, he said, will be picking up steam at a breakneck pace.

Solmonese, a longtime political strategist, was named chief executive officer of the 2020 Democratic National Convention committee. For his vision of the convention, he said, “We want the world to see what we see, right here in Milwaukee everyday.”

He made these remarks Wednesday at a Headlines Newsmaker Luncheon at the Newsroom Pub held by the Milwaukee Press Club and WisPolitics.com, where he discussed several issues tied to 2020 convention in Milwaukee.

Some of the Hallmarks of Milwaukee, like a strong work ethic and commitment to diversity, are akin to the ideals of the Democratic Party, Solmonese said, making the city a logical location for the convention.

“We have a story,” Solmonese said of Milwaukee’s past, present and future prospects.

Like every convention there will be bright lights and excitement as the Democratic Party picks its nominee to face off against President Donald Trump. But, while the parties are raging, the other side of that coin is security. Solmonese emphasized security will be heightened as threats of violence are an all-too-common reality in today’s political climate.

Public safety was a theme discussed frequently throughout Wednesday’s conversation, which featured a panel of journalists including Jason Fechner of Spectrum News 1, Victor Jacobo of CBS 58 and Telemundo Wisconsin , Maredithe Meyer of BizTimes Milwaukee and Mary Spicuzza of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Solmonese’s talk came a day after Trump made his official re-election campaign announcement at a rally in Florida. Solmonese said “the president’s rhetoric” at rallies and other gatherings have been cause for concern.

“The world we live in dictates it,” Solmonese said of the need for ramped up security. “We want to make sure we’re ahead of the curve.”

To that end, Solmonese said the DNC committee has been, and plans to continue, meeting with authorities at all levels with the goal of ensuring the event is a safe one. “We’ve had meaningful conversations with local law enforcement,” Solmonese said. “We will have a very specific leadership team. We’ll have more news to share about a security perimeter.”

Throughout his discussion, Solmonese also spoke of inclusivity within the confines of the DNC, which is in his professional wheelhouse.

Solmonese’s resume includes stints as chief executive of EMILY’s List, a political action committee that backs Democratic female candidates who support abortion rights. He also has served as president of Human Rights Campaign, an organization advocating LGBTQ equality, and waas the transition chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

At one point in the conversation, Solmonese was asked if a transgender speaker would be a part of the 2020 DNC program. The speaker list is pending, Solmonese said, but added “Whoever is on that stage represents the diverse fabric of the Democratic Party,” he said.

The goal, Solmonese said, is to bring into the fold as many disparate voices as possible. “Everything we do here will be inclusive,” he said.

Behind-the-scenes logistics, including fundraising efforts, also were discussed. To date, $11 million has been pledged for the convention, Solmonese said.

In terms of reaching the local benchmark fundraising milestone of $70 million, Solmonese said, “We’re on track. We feel confident about reaching that goal.”

The DNC is working out of dedicated space as the countdown to next year’s convention grows shorter. The four-day program kicks of July 13 and runs through July 16, 2020.

For now, the committee is working out of an office in the Wells Building, but Solmonese said plans are in motion to move to larger digs in September.

“We’re just getting started, and we’re putting all of our infrastructure in place,” he said.

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More about the DNC

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