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Politics Parties? Canceled. Protests and Joe Biden? Still on. What we know (and don't) about the DNC in Milwaukee

23:25  16 july  2020
23:25  16 july  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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MILWAUKEE – This was supposed to be the week that reintroduced Milwaukee to the world, with 50,000 visitors, round-the-clock parties and the nomination of the Democratic presidential contender to take on President Donald Trump in the fall.

Alex Lasry, Thomas Perez, Gwen Moore, Tom Barrett standing next to a person in a suit and tie: Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, center, reacts after spilling a celebratory beer on the convention contract with, from left, Milwaukee Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes on March 11, 2019, following the official announcement that Milwaukee will host the 2020 Democratic National Convention at Fiserv Forum. © Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, center, reacts after spilling a celebratory beer on the convention contract with, from left, Milwaukee Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes on March 11, 2019, following the official announcement that Milwaukee will host the 2020 Democratic National Convention at Fiserv Forum.

Instead, it's become the week that wasn't.

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The Democratic National Convention was due to gavel in July 13 in Milwaukee. Instead, the coronavirus pandemic upended everything.

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Now, Democrats, at least a few of them, are due in town Aug. 17-20.

The scale, shape and content of the event remain in flux.

Here's what we know.

Out: Fiserv Forum

In: Wisconsin Center

It's not going to be at Fiserv Forum, the original main venue. That was scratched when Democrats moved to a more virtual event. Still, the owners of the facility received millions of dollars in payments from the convention's host committee.

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The Wisconsin Center is now the main venue, with the convention itself, such as it is, expected to take place in the facility's third-floor exhibition area.

If you've been to a car show, you know what that space looks like.

We do know that the area can accommodate a big political event.

Back in 2012, in the final days of the fall campaign, thousands of people attended a rally for then-President Barack Obama, with pop singer Katy Perry also performing.

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Not happening: Parties for thousands of delegates, media and volunteers

Probably happening: Protests

Summerfest, Discovery World and Miller Park were scheduled to host the big three party events. But they're scratched.

There likely will be no delegates. They have been asked to stay away because of the pandemic.

And as for media, it's going to be a small contingent, not the thousands that were once expected.

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No one has officially offered an estimated crowd count, but Milwaukee Common Council members have thrown out numbers like 1,000 or 1,500.

There's no telling how many protesters might show up, but the Milwaukee Police Department has ordered plenty of equipment in preparation.

Not happening: Celebrity sightings

Supposedly happening: Joe Biden

Conventions make for great people watching. Back in 2016, Lady Gaga gave an invitation-only concert for Democratic delegates.

Democrats also heard from, among others, comedian Sarah Silverman, actress Elizabeth Banks, director Lee Daniels, and TV stars America Ferrera and Lena Dunham.

Of course, celebrities can make their pitches to the delegates from the comfort of their homes. But it won't be the same.

At least a couple of major politicians are looking to make the trek to the convention.

Presumptive nominee Joe Biden intends to accept the nomination in Milwaukee. His vice-presidential pick is also due here.

What else will be happening: Tough to say

A typical convention has plenty of prime-time speeches plus hundreds of other official and unofficial events, from fundraising to caucusing to networking.

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This convention will be anything but typical.

In late June, convention planners said that the "host city Milwaukee would anchor the events for the week, and that programming would include both live broadcasts and curated content from Milwaukee and other satellite cities, locations and landmarks."

Details are still being ironed out.

The main business of the convention will be conducted virtually, with each delegate receiving an individual ballot. The state parties will collect the ballots.

Voting on convention business will begin Aug. 3 and end Aug. 15. Convention week will consist of four nights of programming.

Of course, everything is still subject to change, based on the coronavirus pandemic, with cases surging across the country, including Wisconsin.

Not happening: Wisconsin's moment on the national stage

Happening: There's still 'something about Milwaukee'

One thing is clear: The event has become a huge missed opportunity for Milwaukee.

The city's hopes and dreams will go unrealized.

The convention is a shell of what it was supposed to be, the Ryder Cup is pushed back a year, the Milwaukee Bucks won't be playing for an NBA title at home, the Brewers will be playing baseball in front of no fans, and Summerfest and the State Fair are off.

"It is difficult to describe the impact financially and emotionally for the lack of these events," said Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce President Tim Sheehy. "The financial impact is critical, but it's also part of the community's DNA that we've lost."

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Sheehy added that people shouldn't forget about all the assets in the region.

It's what helped land the big events in the first place.

"We've got something going for us to attract all these national, international events," Sheehy said. "It says something about Milwaukee. But it's just difficult we haven't been able to execute."

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Parties? Canceled. Protests and Joe Biden? Still on. What we know (and don't) about the DNC in Milwaukee


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