WASHINGTON — Chicago’s major role in making the 2020 Democratic convention possible in hotel-challenged Milwaukee emerged Thursday, with the Chicago Sun-Times learning that 26 of the 57 delegations will be assigned to hotels in Rosemont or Lake County.
Of the 16,000 hotel rooms needed for the convention, 5,000 rooms will be in Illinois and 11,000 in Wisconsin, according to the Democratic National Committee. Clusters of hotels in Rosemont near O’Hare and in Lake County near Great America in Gurnee each are assigned 13 delegations.
Joe Solmonese, the DNC Convention CEO, told the Chicago Sun-Times, “Illinois has large hotels which lets us house delegations under one roof.” Buses for the delegates will run from the hotel clusters to Milwaukee.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker cheered the Milwaukee convention business spillover for Illinois. Spokesman Emily Bittner told the Sun-Times in a statement, “Pritzker fought to bring the convention to the Midwest in part because it’s great for Illinois businesses. Illinois will proudly welcome guests to the 2020 Democratic convention as we play a major role in showcasing the vitality and importance of the Midwest to the nation.
“The thousands of visitors staying in Illinois or traveling here will provide a boost to our economy, and people from all over the United States will get to enjoy the world-class hospitality of our state.”
The giant Democratic delegation from California is assigned to a hotel in Rosemont, about 80 miles from downtown Milwaukee, a drive that on a day with no horrible traffic takes about an hour and 21 minutes.
Delegates from swing state Pennsylvania will stay a little closer, in a Lake County hotel; still, that drive will be at least an hour.
I reported earlier this week that the Illinois delegation, requiring at least 200 hotel rooms, was assigned to the Milwaukee Marriott West in suburban Waukesha, southwest of the city. It’s not one of the prime locations — but at least it’s not Rosemont.
The Illinois Democrats will be about a 20-minute drive from the Fiserv Forum, the arena in downtown Milwaukee where the presidential nominating convention will take place July 13- 16 next year.
Nothing against Rosemont, with a plethora of four-star hotels nested around O’Hare Airport. It’s just that Rosemont is, to use a technical term, a schlep from Milwaukee, even taking the I-294 Illinois tollway.
The Democratic National Committee is revealing the convention hotel assignments during the summer meeting in San Francisco; it starts Thursday and runs through Saturday.
It’s not unusual for delegations to be assigned hotels that are not close to the convention arena or the downtown area in the host city.
The Sun-Times obtained the list from the Democratic Party of Illinois.
Lake County has hotels with a variety of price points. Those housed in hotels around Gurnee may lack a bit in stars but will make up for it in location, just 50 or so miles and a zip up Interstate 94.
Lake County will host delegations from Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Northern Marianas, Pennsylvania and Utah.
Hotels in Rosemont are assigned to delegations from Alabama, American Samoa, California, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
A DNC source, looking at the bright side, said in an email, “Roughly two-thirds of state delegations will be staying within 45 minutes of the arena entrance. And even the farthest drive is shorter in duration than the longest in Philadelphia and Charlotte,” the sites of previous DNC conventions. For instance, in Philadelphia, a delegate staying in Valley Forge was only 17 miles from the arena, but horrible traffic meant that drive times often reached up to 90 minutes in each direction.
The DNC is “working to support delegations that are farther away with scheduled transportation services to get them in the Convention for their caucus and before opening gavel.”