Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden announced last week he plans on accepting the party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee on August 17.
What that convention will look like in two months, however, remains unclear.
After the event was postponed from mid-July to August, Democratic officials have been inconsistent and inconclusive on how the event will be run amid quick-changing COVID-19 concerns and public health recommendations to limit large groups.
Last month, Governor Tony Evers said the DNC was likely to be virtual. Senator Tammy Baldwin said the convention might be a hybrid — describing a combination of smaller in-person events around Milwaukee and the Fiserv area. Biden himself said it might be virtual
Mayor Tom Barrett explained to WUWM last week that officials won’t know what form the DNC is going to take for “another six or seven weeks” — with contractors working on the DNC saying they’re waiting on a decision about whether the event will be virtual.
Despite the uncertainty, many are banking on some sort of in-person gathering. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez told reporters last week that regardless, Democrats still will “descend” on Milwaukee for the national convention, promising to “put on a great show.”
Perez couldn’t predict how many would be allowed or willing to attend but said he’s not giving up on an in-person event.
The high likelihood of video and virtual content has been a roadblock. Technology to livestream speeches is simple, but delegate voting might be a little trickier, especially considering the technological failure that muddied the results of the Iowa caucuses.
Officials are working to ensure delegates can vote remotely in the possibility of a virtual convention. Last month, the DNC members nationwide approved a plan that allows the Democratic National Convention Committee to change the convention, opening up the possibility of either a virtual or hybrid.
It also remains unclear how Milwaukee will be affected economically. The convention was originally expected to pack the streets of Milwaukee with at least 50,000 delegates and visitors and have a $200 million economic impact.
Now, Mayor Barrett is hopeful, despite layoffs at the Milwaukee Democratic National Convention Host Committee stemming from fundraising difficulties. He doesn’t expect to have the “same type of convention that people thought it was months ago,” but believes it will still be noteworthy.
“I still think it’s an opportunity because the fact remains, this is the first time in the history of Wisconsin, that we’ve been chosen to host a major political party convention,” he told WUWM. “And so, let’s take that opportunity and do the best we can, even under these incredibly trying circumstances.”