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‘Most unlikely:’ 2020 DNC in question amid COVID-19 pandemic, virtual convention remains a possibility

MILWAUKEE — The 2020 Democratic National Convention Host Committee has cut its staff in half — the latest problem for a convention amid the coronavirus pandemic.

50,000 people were expected to flood the streets of Milwaukee for the DNC, adding a $200 million surge into the local economy. But with the coronavirus rocking the city and the entire country, the possibility that the streets remain empty in August is real.

“Sure, it’s possible we have a convention. I personally think it’s probably most unlikely,” said Terry McAuliffe, who ran the 2000 DNC in Los Angeles. “You have to raise $70-80 million for these things. Can you imagine trying to raise money right now to go to Milwaukee in the summer? How difficult that would be, you can’t make money calls.”

2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC)

Now, the group leading the convention’s fundraising and volunteer recruitment is laying off staff. The host committee had 31 staff members; 14 of them will stay, 11 were offered jobs elsewhere and six lost their jobs.

Raquel Filmanowicz, the CEO of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee said in a statement:

“The entire nation is facing the unprecedented challenge of responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and unfortunately, the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee is no different. In this climate of uncertainty, we must adjust our plans to match the new reality we’re facing as a nation. We are proud of all that the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee has accomplished and grateful for the contributions of everyone on our team. As we work to help our staff transition through this difficult time, we remain steadfast in our commitment to hosting a successful and safe Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee this August.”

The Wisconsin Democratic Chair Ben Wilker said it is too early to say what will happen.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden

“Whatever form the convention takes is going to knock people’s socks off,” said Wilker via WisPolitics.

There has been growing talk — including from people such as McAuliffe and presidential candidate Joe Biden — that the convention may be held virtually.

A Marquette University Law School poll earlier this month found 62% of Wisconsinites said the convention should not be held in-person, while 22% said the DNC should happen as planned.

Statement from Joe Solmonese, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee:

“The Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee has played an instrumental role in helping us prepare for a historic convention this summer, and we are grateful for the contributions of everyone on their team. We are committed to doing everything we can to support the employees who are transitioning as the Host Committee makes adjustments to continue their important work in light of this unprecedented global pandemic.”

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