, ,

Milwaukee To Host 2020 Democratic National Convention

Midwest City Chosen Over Miami, Houston

Milwaukee Bucks Arena, Downtown Milwaukee
The Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee. Gretchen Brown/WPR

Democrats have chosen Milwaukee to host their 2020 national convention.

The Democratic National Committee’s decision will take the party to the heart of the working-class upper Midwest that delivered President Donald Trump to the White House.

Before 2016, Republicans hadn’t won Wisconsin since 1984. Trump added Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania to upset Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who didn’t campaign in Wisconsin in 2016 during the general election.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

DNC Chairman Tom Perez picked Milwaukee over Miami and Houston. It will be the first time in more than a century that Democrats gather in a Midwest city other than Chicago to nominate their presidential candidate.

“My North Star every decision I’ve made as DNC Chair is winning,” Perez said. “We’ve invested unprecedented amounts of money in the midterms so we could win.”

Milwaukee will be one the smallest cities to host a presidential convention, topping two other finalist cities that have hosted national political conventions and Super Bowls.

The announcement was made Monday morning, moments after Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett delivered the annual State of the City address at the Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee, where the convention will be held from July 13 to July 16, 2020.

“My view is this is a city that fights back,” Barrett said. “I think hosting the first ever political convention for a city of this size is monumental.”

The city has met countless times with DNC officials, Barrett said.

“I think the audition has been going on for the last year,” Barrett said. “This is a part of the country that is important (for the election). We’ve established we can do this.”

Alex Lasry, an executive vice president with the Milwaukee Bucks who has been leading the push to host the convention, said the exposure Milwaukee and Wisconsin will get during the nominating convention is worth as much as the economic impact it will bring to the city.

“The eyes of the world are now going to be in Milwaukee and watching Milwaukee and it is now up to us to put our best foot forward and make sure we are showing Milwaukee at its best,” Lasry said.

Barrett and Gov. Tony Evers said no city or state tax dollars would be used to host the convention. Perez said $11 million had already been raised for the convention. By comparison, Houston and Miami had each raised about $5 million to $6 million.

Barrett co-chairs the Milwaukee DNC 2020 Host Committee along with U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

In a press release from the DNC, Evers said hosting gives Milwaukee and Wisconsin a chance to be on the world stage.

The convention is expected to draw 50,000 visitors and have an economic impact of $200 million to $300 million throughout the state. Downtown Milwaukee has approximately 5,500 hotel rooms. The metropolitan area has 17,884 rooms, according to STR Inc., a Tennessee-based hotel marketing data firm.

“The DNC Convention presents a tremendous opportunity to build on Milwaukee’s rich history of diversity, inclusion and innovation,” Barnes said in a written statement. “Our local entrepreneurs and strong neighborhoods are among Milwaukee’s greatest strengths, and a successful convention that includes these diverse partners will help communities throughout southeast Wisconsin thrive.”

According to the DNC, preparations have already begun between the city, Milwaukee County and the state with the entities working with federal agencies to ensure the safety and security of all who attend the convention. Milwaukee’s corporate community, nonprofits and small businesses will all be involved; and thousands of volunteers will be needed to help ensure the convention runs smoothly, according to the press release.

“Milwaukee will be ready to host a tremendous experience for all of our visitors and residents,” Abele said in a written statement. “We will feature Milwaukee as a place that respects and values all people, a core belief of the Democratic Party — it’s an event I’ll be thrilled for us to host.”

Lasry expressed his excitement to show off Milwaukee this July.

Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who now lives in Milwaukee, praised the news. He was a champion of the deal that lead to the building of the Fiserv Forum and supported Milwaukee’s bid for the convention.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin released a statement saying Milwaukee’s long history with socialism made the city an obvious choice to host the 2020 DNC convention.

“No city in America has stronger ties to socialism than Milwaukee,” said Mark Jefferson, executive director of the group. “And with the rise of Bernie Sanders and the embrace of socialism by its newest leaders, the American left has come full circle. It’s only fitting the Democrats would come to Milwaukee.”

Republicans will meet in Charlotte, N.C., from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27, 2020.