After election wins, Dems push for party’s 2020 national convention
Coming off Tuesday’s sweep of statewide races, Wisconsin Democrats are renewing their effort to win another big prize: The 2020 Democratic National Convention.
Milwaukee, Houston and Miami Beach are the three finalists. The selection is expected to be announced early next year after DNC again visit Milwaukee to discuss the proposal.
“We have felt all along that we had a very strong case for the 2020 Democratic National Convention,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “The results (Tuesday) have made our case even stronger. It is clear that Wisconsin and the Midwest are going to be a major battleground in 2020. And the fact that the national Democrats have not held a national convention in the Midwest outside of Chicago since 1916, when they held the convention in St. Louis, underscores the necessity to have the convention here.”
Wisconsin will surely be closely fought in the 2020 presidential race — just as it has been for decades. The state was a building block for President Donald Trump’s victory in 2016.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who won Tuesday, is urging her party to hold the convention in Milwaukee.
Baldwin is in frequent contact with Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the person who ultimately has the final say about where the convention goes. Perez has strong ties to Wisconsin. His wife is from the state, they married in Milwaukee and one of their daughters attends the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Perez also came to Milwaukee Monday to campaign for Democrats.
How often does Baldwin discuss the convention with Perez?
“Every time we talk,” Baldwin said. “I know we’re calling each other about X but we want the convention in Milwaukee in 2020. That’s not going to stop. I think that especially given the results in this election, you cannot ignore the heartland of America.”
Besides, she said, “It’s also much more pleasant to be in Milwaukee in July than it is to be in Houston in July.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, the Dane County Democrat, also makes the political case for Milwaukee.
Wisconsin is a state Democrats are going to need to win in 2020, he said. “It’s one of the swing states with swing messages on core economic issues. I hope they look really strongly at the Milwaukee location.”
But for a convention, money, logistics and hotels trump pure politics.
The local bid committee, led by Alex Lasry, senior vice president of the Milwaukee Bucks, will have to raise between $50 million and $70 million to hold the convention.
The bid focuses on a compact site, with Fiserv Forum as the convention centerpiece. Bid organizers say there are 15,000 hotel rooms within a 20minute drive of downtown Milwaukee.
Organizers say a convention will lure 50,000 people with an estimated economic impact of up to $200 million.
A Democratic site selection committee toured the city in August.
“They left the site visit very pleased and confident in our hotel capacity and availability,” Lasry said.
“We’ve been continuing throughout the whole time to try and work and tell our story that Milwaukee is the place to be in 2020,” he said. “I think the election served to show the Midwest and Wisconsin, in particular, as a politically interesting state.”
Lasry has stressed the bipartisan nature of the effort. The bid committee has received support from Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who leaves office in January, and Republican leaders around the state.
Lasry said he looks forward to working with Republicans as well as Gov.elect Tony Evers, a Democrat.
“This isn’t about politics but about putting Wisconsin and Milwaukee on the map in way they haven’t been before,” Lasry said.