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Democratic National Committee meets in Chicago in August: 50 years after 1968

DNC Chairman Tom Perez | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee will hold its summer meeting in Chicago near the end of August, almost 50 years to the day of the infamous 1968 presidential convention remembered more for the police crackdown on protesters in Grant Park than the ill-fated nomination of Hubert Humphrey.

The 2018 summer meeting will run from Aug. 23 through Aug. 25 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on East Wacker Drive.

DNC Chair Tom Perez will host a welcome reception on the evening of Aug. 22, where invitees will get a briefing on 2018 voter turnout strategy.

According to a copy of the reception invitation obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, “the event will bring together Democratic supporters for a deep dive into the strategy that, we hope, will propel Democrats to victory in 2018 and 2020 nationwide and up and down the ballot.”

The DNC member roster numbers 447 – including State chairs, vice chairs and at-large members appointed by Perez.

The Chicago meeting will determine revised rules for the presidential nominating process, starting in 2020.

The main debate in Chicago is expected at the Rules and Bylaws Committee meetings with proposals on the table to limit the influence of automatic or “superdelegates.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent who ran for president as a Democrat in 2016 and his supporters complained about superdelegates – party insiders and elected and officials who automatically qualified as convention delegates.

The superdelegates were free to back who they wanted, no matter the outcome of their state primary or caucus vote. Most of them backed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who won the nomination and lost to President Donald Trump.

To bridge the Sanders/Clinton divide, Democrats created the “Unity Reform Commission,” with members appointed by Perez, Clinton and Sanders working for the past year on the overhaul.

There has been a push to encourage states now holding a caucus vote to switch to a party primary. The Iowa caucus, the first-in-the-nation presidential vote, will not be switched.

“We’re excited to come to Chicago to finalize our delegate selection rules,” DNC chief of staff Michael Tyler told the Sun-Times. “And to put in place reforms that will make our party stronger, more competitive and put it in a position to win not just in November 2018 but (to put) our eventual nominee in 2020 in the best possible position to beat Donald Trump.”

Donna Brazile, the former interim DNC chair told the Sun-Times the Chicago meeting “is a great opportunity for the party to come together” a “combination of featuring the races we are working on and the reforms the Unity Commission recommended.”

It’s not always a given that the chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, state House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, cares about DNC meetings.

However, the new activist interim executive director, state Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, will be there.

Mitchell told the Sun-Times, “I am attending and I am also hosting a reception … for the other executive directors around the county.”

The 2020 convention city will be decided after the midterms. Milwaukee, Houston and Miami Beach are in the running.


Democrats return to Chicago days before the 50th anniversary of the 1968 convention, held Aug. 26 through Aug. 29, 1968, at the old International Amphitheatre. The arena, at 4220 S. Halsted, was torn down in 1999. Chicago did not host another convention until 1996.

Many delegates were housed in downtown hotels and anti-war protesters gathered in Lincoln and Grant Parks.

Much has been written about this turbulent Vietnam War era convention, coming after the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert Kennedy, D-NY.

The 1968 convention left the Democratic Party shattered and divided. The 50th anniversary underscores the push in 2018 to install the Unity Commission reforms.


The College Democrats of America hold their summer nation convention on Friday and Saturday at the University of Chicago, featuring training workshops and 2018 mobilization strategy. Speakers include Democratic governor nominee J.B. Pritzker; former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a former DNC chair; Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx; South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg; DuPage County Board candidate Hadiya Afzal; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Jason Kander, the former Missouri Secretary of State who just jumped in the Kansas City mayoral race.