DNC “Should Not Be Our Priority,” Barrett Says
Mayor says he's focused on pandemic and city has halted work on Democratic Convention.
It’s a virtual certainty that the Democratic National Convention will not go off as planned. But whether it still happens at all is an open question.
Even the convention’s biggest champion, Mayor Tom Barrett, is admitting that the expected 50,000 visitors and $200 million economic impact aren’t likely to happen at this point. “I can’t foresee us having exactly the kind of convention as predicted,” said Barrett on Wednesday afternoon during a press briefing.
Scheduled for July 13th through the 16th, the DNC was expected to have over 6,000 delegates, 15,000 media members and countless others descending on Milwaukee. But with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing unabated, a host of warning signs started flashing in the past 24 hours.
“I think it’s a very fluid situation,” said Barrett of what will happen. He said city staff has halted all work related to permitting and logistics for the event. “In other words, this is way out on the back burner.”
He is optimistic that some form of a convention will take place in Milwaukee. “I believe the Democrats are going to choose their nominee in Milwaukee,” said Barrett. “I don’t know what form that is going to take.”
There is one event postponement that’s actually a positive at this point. The decision to reschedule the Summer Olympics for 2020 opens up a large window from July 24th through August 9th that was previously unavailable. The Republican Party had selected August 24th through the 27th for its convention, and the Democrats opted to go in front of, instead of during, the Tokyo Olympics.
Barrett said even a scaled down convention could a be “shot in the arm” for businesses, particularly the hospitality industry.
But how much time is Barrett spending on this? None, he said. “This should not be our priority right now,” said the mayor.
The city has not incurred any direct costs for the event. Private funders cover the work of the host committee and public safety-related costs are scheduled to be covered under a $50 million federal grant.
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