MILWAUKEE – The 2020 Democratic National Convention has been pushed back to mid-August as organizers try to navigate the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The event, originally scheduled for July 13-17, will instead be held the week of Aug. 17. It’s unclear how many days the convention will be held as planning remains in flux. The announcement came in a news release Thursday from convention organizers.
“After a great deal of scenario planning and giving thought to how it is this event can have the greatest impact in the electoral process and the greatest impact in terms of what we can bring to Milwaukee, we felt the best decision, not knowing all the answers, was to delay this,” Democratic National Convention CEO Joe Solmonese told the Journal Sentinel.
“After checking with hotels and venues and Fiserv, we determined the week of Aug. 17 was the best week to move it to,” he said.
“More than anything we continue to monitor the public health landscape,” Solmonese said.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called the decision “absolutely the right move” by the organizers and the Democratic National Committee.
“It underscores the commitment that they have made to Milwaukee,” he said. “It underscores the commitment they have made to Wisconsin and it is my hope that by having it in August it will be a much needed shot in the arm for our restaurants, hotels and other businesses.”
Alex Lasry, financial chair of the convention’s host committee, said: “This is the right decision for the safety of those involved in the convention for Milwaukee. An August convention will provide a much needed economic boost for Milwaukee and Wisconsin as we come out of this unprecedented time.”
The move effectively sets off a logistical scramble to accommodate the thousands of delegates that will descend upon Milwaukee to nominate the Democratic ticket that will take on President Donald Trump in the fall.
“Leadership means being able to adapt, and that’s exactly what our party is doing,” DNC Chair Tom Perez said in a statement. “The city of Milwaukee has been an incredible partner, especially over the past few weeks as we’ve confronted this global crisis, and we couldn’t be more committed to highlighting Wisconsin as a key battleground state, as it is at the center of so many of Trump’s broken promises.”
Perez said the party “will continue to be in contact with local, state, and federal health officials as we monitor this fluid situation.”
In the statement, convention organizers said they confirmed that planned main venues will be available in August: Fiserv Forum, UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Miller High Life Theatre and the Wisconsin Center, as well as hotel accommodations in the surrounding area.
The statement said: “The convention planning team will now use the coming weeks to further explore all options to ensure nominating the next president of the United States is done without unnecessary risk to public health. These options include everything from adjusting the convention’s format to crowd size and schedule.”
The move was signaled Wednesday by Democratic front-runner Joe Biden who told Jimmy Fallon of the “The Tonight Show,” “I doubt whether the Democratic convention is going to be able to be held in mid-July or early July. I think it’s going to have to move into August.”
In a Tuesday interview, Biden said: “We were able to … in the middle of a Civil War all the way through to World War II have Democratic and Republican conventions and primaries and elections and still have public safety. And we’re able to do both. But the fact is, it may have to be different.”
The Wisconsin Center District, which oversees three of the convention venues, is working to reschedule events in August to accommodate the rescheduled DNC.
Contributing: Tom Daykin