DNC’s host city decision had a lot to do with ‘winning,’ chairman Perez says

Cites diversity and labor union support as city and party values

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, DNC chairman Tom Perez, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Gov. Tony Evers
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, DNC chairman Tom Perez, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Gov. Tony Evers

Democratic Party officials hope having their 2020 national convention in Milwaukee will help their candidate win the state, which went for Donald Trump in 2016, and win back the White House.

Wisconsin’s status as a crucial swing state on the electoral map, which Democrats previously hadn’t lost since 1984, is one of the reasons why Milwaukee was chosen over Houston and Miami for the convention, said DNC chairman Tom Perez during a press conference held Monday to officially announce the selection.

It will be the first time since 1916 that the Democratic Party has held a national convention in a Midwestern city other than Chicago, which hosted it in 1968 and 1996.

Throughout the selection process, Milwaukee’s bid committee touted the city’s infrastructure, including the new Fiserv Forum, its diverse population, growing economy and accessible location. It even met the convention’s 15,000 minimum area hotel room requirement.

But considering the size and scale of the two losing cities, Milwaukee may seem like an surprising choice. To Perez and the democrats, however, it was a strategic one.

“Every decision I’ve made as DNC chairman is about winning,” Perez said. “We invested unprecedented amounts of money in the midterm elections so we could win… We did some wholesale adjustments to our rules for selecting the next nominee. The purpose of that is so we could win by earning the trust of voters. We just announced the week or so ago a very aggressive organizing initiative so that we could give an army or organizers to our next nominee. That’s about helping us win. We’ve overhauled our data so that candidates running for office will have access to state-of-the-art data. They will have so much more knowledge of the voters, which enables us to have a much better chance of winning… That’s what it’s about– winning so that we can take back our democracy.”

The 2016 presidential election marked the first time Wisconsin voted for a Republican candidate since 1984, when Ronald Reagan carried the state. While the host city selection doesn’t guarantee a win for Wisconsin in the 2020 presidential election, Perez said, it represents the party’s stance on key issues such as diversity and labor union support.

“Milwaukee is a proud majority-minority city– diversity is our greatest strength and Democrats believe that diversity is one of the things that make America great,” he said. “Milwaukee is a proud union town. Democrats believe that unions brought us the middle class.”

The party’s success throughout the Midwest in the 2018 midterm election, including wins for Governor Tony Evers and Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin, shows the party knows how to succeed in the Midwest, Perez said, calling the region an “opportunity belt.”

Perez said Wisconsin has already fund-raised $11 million for the convention, which had surpassed the other two cities in the running. Milwaukee Tom Barrett said there is $50 million left to raise.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.