The 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee
The 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee

It’s offi­cial: the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty will gath­er in the Mid­west to nom­i­nate its next stan­dard bear­ers for Pres­i­dent and Vice Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States.

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee announced today that Mil­wau­kee — Wis­con­sin’s largest city — will host the Con­ven­tion from July 13th-16th, 2020.

Skyline of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Down­town Mil­wau­kee viewed from Pier Wis­con­sin at Dis­cov­ery World, by Yk Yk Yk (Repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

The con­ven­tion’s antic­i­pat­ed four gen­er­al ses­sions will take place at the new­ly-built Fis­erv Forum, where the NBA’s Mil­wau­kee Bucks play, while addi­tion­al activ­i­ties like cau­cus and coun­cil meet­ings will take place at near­by venues, like the Wis­con­sin Cen­ter, UW’s Pan­ther Are­na, and Miller High Life Theater.

The 2020 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion will be the first held in the Mid­west in decades, and the first held in a Mid­west­ern city oth­er than Chica­go in over a cen­tu­ry. It will be Wis­con­sin’s first ever major par­ty con­ven­tion, as well.

“This was­n’t easy,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez. “We start­ed out with almost ten cities, and we nar­rowed it down to three — three spec­tac­u­lar cities. Mia­mi, Hous­ton and Mil­wau­kee. They had spec­tac­u­lar bids that they put forth.”

“It took us a lit­tle longer because we had an envi­able dilem­ma. While the choice of Mil­wau­kee does not guar­an­tee suc­cess, where you hold your con­ven­tion is a strong state­ment of our val­ues, and who and what we’re fight­ing for.”

“The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty is the par­ty of work­ing peo­ple, and Mil­wau­kee is a city of work­ing peo­ple,” Perez added. “I want to thank the lead­ers in Hous­ton and Mia­mi for all their hard work through­out this process. They both put for­ward com­pet­i­tive pro­pos­als that I’m sure will lead them to host­ing future conventions.”

“This is a great day for the city of Mil­wau­kee and for the state of Wis­con­sin,” Mil­wau­kee May­or Tom Bar­rett said. “Mil­wau­kee is a first-class city, and we are ready to show­case Mil­wau­kee on one of the largest stages in the world.”

“We all know that com­pe­ti­tion for con­ven­tions like this is fierce,” Bar­rett added in remarks to the press. “There’s com­pe­ti­tion from the East Coast, there’s com­pe­ti­tion from the West Coast, there’s com­pe­ti­tion from the Gulf Coast. And I am here today to wel­come all of Amer­i­ca to Amer­i­ca’s fresh coast.”

“There is no bet­ter place to show­case the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party’s vision for the future than in Wis­con­sin,” U.S. Sen­a­tor Tam­my Bald­win said. “The Mid­west is a crit­i­cal bat­tle­ground and will be key to secur­ing a bet­ter future for America.”

“Mil­wau­kee will be ready to host a tremen­dous expe­ri­ence for all of our vis­i­tors and res­i­dents,”  Mil­wau­kee Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Chris Abele said.

“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.”

The 2020 DNC is expect­ed to cost over sev­en­ty mil­lion dol­lars to stage.

As Perez said, Mil­wau­kee was cho­sen over two south­ern cities, Hous­ton and Mia­mi, which had also been named final­ists by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee. A major logis­ti­cal strength of Mil­wau­kee’s bid was that it had a brand new are­na to offer as the cen­ter­piece of its pitch — the afore­men­tioned Fis­erv Forum.

The 730,000 square foot Forum is so new that it had yet to open when Perez and top Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty offi­cials toured it last year. It can accom­mo­date 17,341 peo­ple for bas­ket­ball and 18,000 peo­ple for con­certs. The low­er bowl seats 10,000.

It was built with thir­ty-four suites, six load­ing docks, 300,000 pounds of rig­ging capa­bil­i­ty for events, ten ele­va­tors, ten esca­la­tors, more than 9,000 LED light fix­tures, and thir­ty-four large pub­lic restrooms — nine­teen of which are for women. There are eight hun­dred high def­i­n­i­tion tele­vi­sions in the are­na as well. An enter­prise-lev­el net­work of Wi-Fi hotspots pro­vides fast, free high speed Internet.

Skep­tics of Mil­wua­kee’s bid have ques­tioned whether the city has enough hotel rooms to accom­mo­date thou­sands of del­e­gates, media rep­re­sen­ta­tives, VIPs, guests, and vol­un­teers. The city’s orga­niz­ing com­mit­tee is con­fi­dent it does.

“We have enough hotels,” Mil­wau­kee 2020 Chair Alex Las­ry said in response to com­ments about the Brew City’s capac­i­ty to lodge guests.

Thank­ful­ly, sev­en new or ren­o­vat­ed hotels are due to open in down­town Mil­wau­kee before the con­ven­tion occurs, increas­ing down­town’s capac­i­ty by over ten percent.

“The con­ven­tion could be a short ride or walk from all of the new hotels,” reports Urban Mil­wau­kee. “Each of the hotels is with­in a block of a street­car stop. Ser­vice on The Hop [Mil­wau­kee’s street­car line] is required to be free for the con­ven­tion. The con­ven­tion is sched­uled to run from July 13th through July 16th and the city is work­ing on an exten­sion to the con­ven­tion center.”

“The hotel com­mu­ni­ty came togeth­er and said, ‘Look, we got to make this hap­pen. And the way to make this hap­pen is to com­mit all of our rooms to this,’ ” said Greg Mar­cus, Pres­i­dent & CEO of the Mar­cus Cor­po­ra­tion, which is allot­ting all of its hotel rooms for use by peo­ple com­ing into town for the convention.

“The heavy lift­ing, I think so far has been real­ly get­ting ready and try­ing to con­vince, and teach and edu­cate the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee that we had the infra­struc­ture that we had the hotel rooms, that we have the event space, that we have the things they need,” Mar­cus added in remarks report­ed by WISN.

Although Mia­mi mount­ed a spir­it­ed effort to secure the Con­ven­tion, Perez ulti­mate­ly set­tled on Mil­wau­kee. It could­n’t have hurt that Perez’s wife is from Wauwatosa, Wis­con­sin… or that the cou­ple were mar­ried in Mil­wau­kee… or that one of their daugh­ters attends the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin at Madison.

Hous­ton’s bid was sig­nif­i­cant­ly ham­pered by a labor dis­pute between the city’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic may­or and its fire­fight­ers as well as glar­ing financ­ing prob­lems. Hous­ton’s major indus­try is fos­sil fuels and par­ty offi­cials were not keen on a 2020 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion financed with oil and gas money. 

Mil­wau­kee also has an advan­tage over Mia­mi and Hous­ton with respect to its sum­mer cli­mate. Its aver­age July high is 83 F; its aver­age July low is 63 F.

Here’s how that com­pares to Hous­ton and Miami:

  • Aver­age high for July 
    • Hous­ton: 93 F
    • Mia­mi: 91 F
    • Mil­wau­kee: 83 F
  • Aver­age low for July 
    • Hous­ton: 76 F
    • Mia­mi: 77 F
    • Mil­wau­kee: 63 F

Where the Brew City real­ly shines, though, is its low­er dew point.

Mia­mi and Hous­ton both have the exact same aver­age dew point in July… 74 F. Mil­wau­kee, on the oth­er hand, has an aver­age July dew point of just 61 F.

Why is this relevant?

Because dew point is the best indi­ca­tor of com­fort out-of-doors. It’s “the tem­per­a­ture to which air must be cooled at con­stant pres­sure and water con­tent to reach sat­u­ra­tion”. When the dew point gets above six­ty-five degrees or so, it starts to feel pret­ty mug­gy and sticky. Every­one’s com­fort lev­el is dif­fer­ent, but there’s no deny­ing that when the air is loaded with mois­ture, it’s hard­er to perspire.

Mil­wau­kee sits at a lat­i­tude sim­i­lar to that of Rose­burg, Ore­gon, and Boise, Idaho.

Seat­tle and Port­land (Ore­gon) enjoy a long dis­tance rail link with Mil­wau­kee thanks to Amtrak’s fab­u­lous Empire Builder, while Alas­ka and Delta each offer one dai­ly non­stop flight in each direc­tion between Seat­tle and Mil­wau­kee. No non­stop ser­vice between Mil­wau­kee and oth­er North­west cities is avail­able from a major carrier.

In light traf­fic, Mil­wau­kee is about a thir­ty and a half hour dri­ve (1,946 miles) from Seat­tle via Inter­state 90 and Inter­state 94. A road trip from Port­land to Mil­wau­kee takes longer because Inter­state 90 fol­lows a more norther­ly alignment.

A road trip from Boise is quick­er because the cities are about at the same lat­i­tude and two rea­son­ably direct routes are avail­able to the motorist.

Wis­con­sin will be a bat­tle­ground state in 2020. Wis­con­sin had been in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­umn for decades before Hillary Clin­ton nar­row­ly lost it to Don­ald Trump. Democ­rats are anx­ious to reclaim Wis­con­sin as a blue state in 2020. The par­ty took a major step towards that goal last year by final­ly van­quish­ing for­mer gov­er­nor Scott Walk­er, who was defeat­ed in his reelec­tion bid by Tony Evers.

The Repub­li­can Par­ty will host its 2020 Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Char­lotte, North Car­oli­na, from August 24th-27th — more than a month after the DNC. Char­lotte pre­vi­ous­ly host­ed the 2012 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion sev­en years ago.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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