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Dems 2020 convention: Buzz at DNC winter meeting is it’s Milwaukee’s to lose

The Democratic National Committee, led by chair Tom Perez, will announce the 2020 convention site before the end of the month, Perez told the Chicago Sun-Times, with other sources saying its Milwaukee’s to lose. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times file photo

WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee, throwing its winter meeting here this week, will announce the 2020 convention site before the end of the month, the DNC chair told the Chicago Sun-Times, with other sources saying its Milwaukee’s to lose.

There is a concern that Milwaukee doesn’t have an ample supply of five-star luxury hotels the very top DNC donors have come to expect at conventions, at times as much about taking care of the party’s best financial supporters as it is nominating a president.

With downtown Milwaukee 90 minutes from downtown Chicago — and much less from the northern suburbs — there could be some kind of DNC convention connectivity, or tourism impact or extra business for Illinois if Milwaukee is picked.

In a comment to the Sun-Times on Thursday, DNC chair Tom Perez set the timetable for the convention decision. It is ultimately his to make, with input from a site-selection committee also considering Miami and Houston.

Perez was in Chicago last week — on Feb. 7 — meeting with Democratic elite mega-donors and fundraisers.

The Chicago donor world has been approached to help Milwaukee land the convention, and some top players want to step up and assist. Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers talked about landing the convention in Milwaukee in a Tuesday phone call, where Pritzker offered to help.

Both are new governors. Democrats Pritzker and Evers defeated Republican incumbents. At a Wednesday night DNC gala headlined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the first African-American to be elected lieutenant governor in Wisconsin, was also a keynoter.

Pritzker is no stranger to Wisconsin. He owns a horse farm in Racine and a home described as a mansion in Lake Geneva.

Pritzker spokesman Jordan Abudayyeh told me the governor “believes that the Midwest must be at the heart of the transformation of our country over the next two years, and that hosting the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee will boost tourism and revenue in Illinois. Governor Pritzker is pleased to advocate to help the region host an event that will strengthen our economy and send a progressive message nationally.”

The Republicans earlier announced their 2020 convention will take place in Charlotte, N.C. — the only city to publicly pitch the quadrennial event. Charlotte hosted the 2012 Democratic convention, when former President Barack Obama was nominated for a second term, and the lack of close-in decent hotel rooms was a source of complaints by attendees.

Dan Hynes in play for DNC spot

Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes, the former Illinois comptroller, is a DNC member and is running for one of the Midwest spots on the executive committee, with the election on Saturday.

Mary Morrissey, the chief operating officer of the Democratic Party of Illinois, told me when we chatted that the Illinois DNC members will be “talking to other Midwest members and their delegations” about supporting Hynes. Besides Hynes, other Chicago-area DNC members expected here are Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough; Senate President John Cullerton; former state Sen. Carol Ronen and state Sen. Iris Martinez.

Democratic Party of Illinois Update

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan doubles as the state party chair and considers it a waste of his time to be involved in DNC activities, so he’s not here. Nevertheless, Madigan insists on clinging to his Democratic Party of Illinois spot. Madigan’s DNC disdain is so deep, he didn’t even bother to attend the summer meeting when it was in Chicago last August.

At present, Morrissey — who comes out of former Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s operation — is running the DPI, without a permanent executive director since Madigan sidekick Tim Mapes was forced to step down last year, ousted in the wake of harassment claims.

Another deputy governor, Christian Mitchell, a former state representative, had served as interim executive director.

The DPI is searching for an executive director.