A metal perimeter fence encircles the Wisconsin Center, the site planned for the 2020 Dem National Convention. The event was held mostly virtually due to COVID-19. Photo by Adam Kelnhofer, August 17, 2020.

Mayor Tom Barrett says Milwaukee “remains interested in being a national political convention site.”

But he added the process of bidding to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention would require buy-in from a number of parties.

The national party has sent letters to more than 20 cities inviting them to apply to host the convention. New Chair Jaime Harrison billed it as “a historic event that can help shape the future of your city for decades to come.” Harrison also touted the potential economic benefits, writing past host cities have seen an impact of $150 million to $200 million.

Milwaukee, however, missed out on any significant economic impacts of the 2020 national convention after the event went largely virtual. While some party officials still gathered in Milwaukee, then-nominee Joe Biden accepted the party’s backing while addressing activists from his home state of Delaware.

“The formal process of assembling a bid for the 2024 Democratic National Convention requires quite a number of partners here in Milwaukee, and I will be consulting with those partners as we make decisions about moving forward,” Barrett said.

Some backers of the 2020 Milwaukee convention have argued the city should be awarded the 2024 event to make up for the lost opportunity.

The Milwaukee County Dem Party said the city shouldn’t have to make the case again for why it would be an excellent location for the next convention, adding it has already done that.

“Instead, we simply ask the selection committee to follow the precedent of so many other postponed events and follow through on your national commitment to our state,” the party said in a statement.

John Miller, who chaired the local non-profit that raised funds to put on the convention, said there would be a number of hurdles to making a second run at hosting the event. For one, Alex Lasry was a key player in the effort to land the convention, but he is now running for U.S. Senate. Lasry is on leave from his Milwaukee Bucks post.

Miller said any effort to land the 2024 convention would first need a committed group of people willing to lead a bid.

The Milwaukee host committee raised about $43 million for the 2020 convention. Its latest filing with the FEC from last month showed it still had $20,567 and no debts. But that was partly because the National Education Association put up a $1.5 million line of credit for the host committee and essentially forgave the loan.

Miller noted the Bucks’ run to the NBA championship showed what an asset downtown Milwaukee can be during a large event. He added it was an open question whether there would be an appetite to make another run at hosting after the last event went virtual.

“That would be the reluctance that we would go all in like we did, do all we needed to do and have something out of our control come and spoil the party,” Miller said.

Harrison in the letter asked cities interested in hosting the convention to contact him in writing by Oct. 1. The party will then provide a list of preliminary general requirements as the formal RFP process begins. He added the RFP process will begin in earnest late this year.

See the DNC letter:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/210802Letter.pdf

Read the Milwaukee County Dem Party statement:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/210802_MKEDems.pdf

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