The Democratic Party has selected Milwaukee as the site of its 2020 nominating convention, choosing a key battleground state that President Trump narrowly and unexpectedly carried in 2016.
The Midwestern city was chosen over Houston and Miami, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez announced at an event Monday afternoon, ending a stretch of intense regional lobbying. The decision was first reported by the Associated Press.
In 2016, Trump upset Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin, sparking recriminations that she didn’t spend enough time campaigning there and in other Rust Belt states in which Trump prevailed.
But Democrats won all of Wisconsin’s statewide offices in 2018, a point Perez noted Monday as he declared that his party is “back with a renewed sense of purpose” and will fight “in every Zip code.”
“On Election Day, after a decade of Republican attacks on working people, labor unions, communities of color, attacks on voting rights, attacks on education, the people of this state said loudly and clearly, ‘Enough is enough,’ and we swept all of the statewide races,” Perez said.
He made the announcement at the Fiserv Forum, an arena that opened last year in downtown Milwaukee and will serve as the main convention site.
Next year will be the first time Democrats have held a nominating convention in the Midwest since 1996, when they met in Chicago. It will mark the first major-party convention in Milwaukee’s history.
“I’ve heard people say the Midwest is the Rust Belt,” Perez said at Monday’s event. “We will show in 490 days that the Midwest is the Opportunity Belt.”
He also struck a tone of urgency, telling attendees that under the Trump presidency, “Our democracy is on fire. It’s a five-alarm blaze.”
The Democratic convention is scheduled for July 13-16, 2020.
Wisconsin Republican Party Executive Director Mark Jefferson said it “only fitting” that Democrats had chosen Milwaukee, noting that the city has elected three socialist mayors (the most recent of whom left office in 1960).
“No city in America has stronger ties to socialism than Milwaukee,” Jefferson said.
Other Republicans on Monday praised the decision.
“I think it’s super for Milwaukee. It’s super for the state. Their money is not red money. It’s not blue money. It’s green money,” former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker (R) said in an interview with Milwaukee-based TV station TMJ4.
For its convention, the DNC began considering eight host cities: Atlanta, Birmingham, Ala., Denver, Houston, Miami Beach, Milwaukee, New York and San Francisco. The field was cut last summer.
In August, a group of Midwestern senators signed on to a letter to the DNC calling for a Milwaukee selection.
“A Milwaukee convention would send a strong message to the nation that winning America’s heartland is a priority in the 2020 election cycle and beyond,” the senators wrote. “Wisconsin is a state with a deep progressive and Democratic history. It is an ideal place for our party to showcase our values, priorities and agenda in our commitment to fight for everyday Americans.”
Some elected officials spoke out ahead of the formal announcement.
“I am so excited that Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has won the bid to be the site of the 2020 Democratic National Convention,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said in a video distributed on Twitter. “It is so wonderful to know that we will nominate the next president of the United States right in Wisconsin. Congratulations, and now let’s get to work.”
Milwaukee officials have faced questions about whether there is enough hotel capacity in the region to host such a major event. A committee supporting the city’s bid maintained that it was confident that it could accommodate the large number of visitors a major-party convention attracts.
Republicans plan to hold their convention in Charlotte from Aug. 24-27, 2020.
Michael Scherer contributed to this report.