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When Candidates Want To Connect With Wisconsin Voters, They Turn To Beer

State's Beer Culture Has Long Played A Role In Its Political Culture

man holds beer in front of American flag
Connor Stubbs of Decatur, Ga., who volunteered for Democratic candidates including Hillary Clinton and New Hampshire Democratic Senate candidate, Gov. Maggie Hassan, holds a beer as he looks down at his cell phone while monitoring election returns during an election night rally in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. Charles Krupa/AP Photo

Wisconsin is known far and wide for its beer culture — and in recent years, Wisconsin’s political culture has been getting plenty of national attention.

The two often intersect, as was evident the day Democratic Party Chair Tom Perez came to the state to announce Milwaukee would host the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

As the formal announcement wound down, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett turned to the assembled officials and said, “I think we should do what we always do in Milwaukee after work. I think it’s time for a beer.”

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Which is exactly what staffers brought out for them. Only as the glasses clinked together and cameras clicked … things got messy.

“I think it’s only appropriate,” Perez said, laughing, “that the paperwork should have a little spill of beer on it. We need a brat to get on there now.”

Spilling beer on the paperwork might not have been intended, but those in Wisconsin politics say it was no surprise.

“It’s a shorthand and quick way to convey something by having a beer,” said Mordecai Lee, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

For out-of-state politicians looking to show they’re in touch with Wisconsin culture, a beer is a common way to do it.

“You know it’s not that different from, I don’t know, campaigning in Chicago and having a Chicago hot dog or a deep dish pizza,” Lee said. “For politicians, the simplistic, stereotypical instant messaging that happens with a photo op with beer, they continue doing it.”

Plenty of big political names have taken part: presidential nominees like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, first lady Betty Ford and many others.

Look back through pictures of candidates raising glasses of Wisconsin beer, and it’s like looking at a timeline of American politics.