DNC Chair Tom Perez declared the party’s decision to host the 2020 national convention in Milwaukee was a reflection of its values — and a key piece to re-taking the White House.
Perez, flanked by Wisconsin Democrats, said Milwaukee’s status as a majority-minority city represents the party’s diversity and its union history reflects the party’s commitment to organized labor. He also touted Wisconsin’s history on the environment and education.
In highlighting each, Perez took a shot at former GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s priorities compared to those of Dem Gov. Tony Evers.
“Where you hold a convention is a very strong statement of your values,” Perez said during a Milwaukee news conference. “It’s a very strong statement of who we are as a party and who and what we’re fighting for. I firmly believe that.”
Wisconsin Dems, meanwhile, hailed the opportunity presented by the convention — and vowed they were up to the challenge.
Leading up to the announcement, some questioned if the city had enough hotel rooms to host a national convention and if it could provide entertainment options for convention attendees that could rival the other finalist cities of Miami and Houston.
“The next time someone tries to say Milwaukee can’t handle something or Milwaukee is too small or not capable, this is our punch back,” said the Milwaukee Bucks’ Alex Lasry, who was part of the city’s bid to land the convention. “This is our evidence that we can do anything we want when we reach for it.”
Dems also touted the expectation the convention will draw more than 50,000 visitors when it hits the city July 13-16, 2020. Backers have predicted it would have an economic impact of $200 million on the region, and the committee created to help land the convention said an estimated 1,500 events will occur outside the Fiserv Forum.
Perez said the city had raised $11 million in hard commitments for the convention, more than twice what others had offered. Mayor Tom Barrett said no city tax dollars would be used for the convention, and Evers said the same of state money.
Barrett vowed the city “will not disappoint” while acknowledging 12,000 volunteers are needed for the convention. He also touted the event as an opportunity to show off what he said is a renaissance downtown, anchored by the Bucks arena that was built through a combination of tax dollars and private money.
“This isn’t old Milwaukee. This is new Milwaukee,” Barrett said.
The party’s selection of Milwaukee will be the first time since 1916 that its national convention was in a Midwestern city other than Chicago
Meanwhile, Republicans quickly began making jokes about the convention coming to Wisconsin after 2016 Dem nominee Hillary Clinton infamously failed to visit the state leading up to the general election.
Clinton lost the state by 22,784 votes.
State GOP Executive Director Mark Jefferson also sought to link the decision to Milwaukee’s history of electing socialist mayors with three serving in that office between 1910 and 1960. He said the “American left has come full circle” with the embrace of socialism by the party’s newest leaders.
“It’s only fitting the Democrats would come to Milwaukee,” he said.