Milwaukee secures line of credit for 2020 Democratic National Convention


Photo by Jordan Johnson


Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced Wednesday that Milwaukee has secured a third-party line of credit for its bid to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. 

The convention will be held July 13-16, 2020, and will feature speeches from prominent Democratic Party members and the party’s nominee, according to the Democrats website.

Milwaukee is appealing to Democrats in part because of the 2016 presidential election, political science assistant professor Philip Rocco said. 

“There is a famous decision that the (Hillary) Clinton campaign made not to campaign, especially toward the end of the race, in Wisconsin,” Rocco said. “And an argument can be made among strategists that had Milwaukee alone — or even some select smaller cities in Wisconsin — turned out for Clinton to a larger extent, then Democrats could have won the Electoral College.”

Rocco said he thinks there’s an idea seared into the minds of leaders of the DNC that an opportunity was foregone in 2016 to drive turnout in Wisconsin.

“Democrats cannot take the Midwest — and certainly not the upper Midwest — for granted,” Rocco said.

Sam Langheim, finance director for College Democrats of Wisconsin and a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he believes having the convention in Milwaukee could remedy some of the resentment toward Clinton after 2016. 

“Since that debacle, the Democratic Party has been trying to kind of work with states that might have flipped for (Donald) Trump in 2016, especially ones that have proud, progressive history,” Langheim said.

He mentioned that it would benefit the Democratic Party to just show people in this state that they still care and they still recognize them.

Devin McCowan, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he would try to attend if the convention came to Milwaukee. He said he believes it could also cause Milwaukee to be portrayed in a negative light.

“Milwaukee has a lot of problems, so I think when you have the DNC coming to a city, you kind of highlight some of those problems,” McCowan said. “I think Milwaukee has a big homeless population, but we also work hard to help the homeless population. And there’s things that are wrong with our water quality, but we’re always trying to fix that.”

McCowan said he thinks there are positives in Milwaukee though.

“It might bring attention to issues and work toward helping them in the future, or it could just say, ‘These are bad issues and it’s not worth it to fix them.’ So we’ll have to see,” McCowan said.

If Milwaukee gets the bid, the city would have to be sure to highlight its strengths to the country, Rocco said. 

“There is certainly the case that if Milwaukee’s bid wins, that’s not the end of the story if the city wants to benefit from the convention,” Rocco said. “Clearly, there is some advertising work and some framing that the city will have to do to make the most of being a host.” 

But since Wisconsin is divided between the liberal metropolitan areas of Milwaukee and Madison and the more conservative rural areas, some voters may not entirely welcome the convention, Anna Abadsantos, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said.  

“There might also be some backlash because it’s not like New York where it’s primarily a blue state consistently,” Abadsantos said. “People could be like, ‘We don’t want you here.’ But I think it would probably do more good than harm in terms of reaching out.” 

Abadsantos said attending the convention would be a great way to educate yourself. 

Langheim said bringing the convention to Milwaukee would be a good way to bring things full-circle. Although Wisconsin went red in 2016, Langheim said the state is becoming a more “Democratic hub,” as evidenced by Democratic wins in the 2018 midterms.

“I think there’s so much progressive energy in this state, so having (the DNC) hosted by Milwaukee would definitely swing it more toward the blue,” Langheim said. 

Rocco said the strategy in Wisconsin is not simply to leverage having the convention in Milwaukee to secure Wisconsin’s votes, but to also make the statement that Democrats are thinking in a more serious way about the places in the United States.

The location of the convention is expected to be announced in February, according to Politico. Houston and Miami Beach are the two other cities being considered.