Af­ter elec­tion wins, Dems push for party’s 2020 na­tional con­ven­tion

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Milwaukee Wisconsin - Bill Glauber

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.

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