As the 2020 presidential election season begins to ramp up, local Democrats are preparing for the possibility of Milwaukee hosting the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
Milwaukee is in the running to be the host city along with Miami Beach and Houston. The convention is scheduled for July 13-16, 2020 and the announcement of which city has won the right to host the event is imminent.
Martha Laning, chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, said she has been in contact with Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, about the convention.
“We know we’re going to hear it by the end of the month,” Laning said. “The decision should be coming any time now. That’s the one promise that Tom has made, is that we know by the end of the month.”
If Milwaukee is selected to host the convention, that will mean thousands of people will flock to southeast Wisconsin — which also means the logistics to put on a successful event is paramount.
“We need thousands and thousands of volunteers to put on an event of this magnitude,” Laning said. “There’s a lot of people that are involved in it. We’ll be reaching out to great Democrats all over the State of Wisconsin to come to assist to help us put on the program.”
‘This is a key state’
Regardless of whether Milwaukee hosts the Democratic convention, Wisconsin is likely to be a major battleground in the 2020 election.
During the 2016 presidential race, Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton did not visit the state during the race; some believe that was a mistake which led to Donald Trump becoming the first Republican to win Wisconsin’s electoral votes since President Ronald Regan in 1984. Trump won Wisconsin by 22,748 votes, a margin of less than 1 percentage point.
“We need to be sure we’re getting out a strong message in Wisconsin about what Democratic leadership offers and how we can help to make people’s lives better,” Laning said. “We saw in 2016 how important Wisconsin was and we know that this is a key state.”
Wisconsin Democrats bounced back during the midterm elections last November, winning every statewide race including the governor’s race.
Wisconsin is seen as a “purple” state, but in 2018 Laning said Wisconsin Democrats put more resources into a “neighbor to neighbor contact” program to connect other organizers similar to 2008 and 2012.
“President Obama really activated that grassroots, he talked to people about issues that really mattered to them and then encouraged them to get into their communities and organize on those issues,” Laning said. “And that’s the model that we used in 2018 … it was very clear that in 2016 a message did not reach the voters about what Hilary Clinton would do to make their lives better here in Wisconsin.”
Whichever city hosts the convention will have to deal with more than 3,700 delegates, not to mention hundreds of public officials, campaign workers and national and international news media.
What it means for Racine
Should the DNC choose Milwaukee for its convention, the event is certain to bring outside money into the area — certainly for the hospitality industry at least.
“The hotels are very excited,” Dave Blank, president and CEO of Real Racine, the county visitors bureau, said on Tuesday.
Paul Upchurch, the head of Visit Milwaukee, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But Blank said that to have a chance of landing the DNC, Visit Milwaukee needed to assure the Democratic National Committee it could provide at least 15,000 hotel or motel rooms in the Milwaukee and surrounding areas. Visit Milwaukee identified about 18,000 rooms, Blank said.
The convention would run from Monday through Thursday, and Blank pointed out that the delegates from outside the area would likely arrive the preceding weekend. For that reason, the visitors bureau will not plan any large events for that weekend. The DNC will already be competing for hotel rooms with weddings and other such events, Blank said.
How much of the convention money will be dropped into Racine-area coffers is difficult to guess, Blank said.
“It’s hard to say; this is a different animal than we have had before,” he said, adding “you will spend something where you stay overnight.
“It’s an exciting opportunity.”
“We need thousands and thousands of volunteers to put on an event of this magnitude. There’s a lot of people that are involved in it. We’ll be reaching out to great Democrats all over the State of Wisconsin to come to assist to help us put on the program.” Martha Laning, chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party
This article provided by NewsEdge.