By Bill Glauber and Annysa Johnson
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
February 2, 2019
In the next few weeks, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez is expected to select the city that will host the party's 2020 national convention.
And, according to Washington, D.C.-based Politico, Milwaukee appears to be the odds on favorite to snag the event over rivals Houston and Miami Beach. Florida.
But Milwaukee officials aren't about to celebrate prematurely.
In fact, there was official silence Saturday, as Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett declined to comment on the report.
And it's not hard to figure out why.
The competition is far from over with the three cities all in play to host the Democratic Convention July 13-16, 2020.
And Houston, especially, remains a formidable competitor, with ample hotel and convention space, plenty of local donors to help in fundraising and a track record of hosting big events.
Representatives from the three cities met with DNC officials in recent weeks for a key round of negotiations.
In its report, Politico cited a host of factors weighing in Milwaukee's favor, from Perez's personal connections to the city to the new Fiserv Forum arena and the Democrats' need to win Wisconsin in the 2020 presidential election.
Politico listed as negatives for Milwaukee: "There’s always concern about fundraising and having enough hotels when party committees look to second-tier cities."
It said Houston and Miami Beach are also "still in the hunt, and all three cities have been asked to move forward with a master contract."
Perez's personal connections to Milwaukee have always been part of the backdrop to the competition. His wife is from Wauwatosa, they were married in Milwaukee and one of their daughters attends the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"We look at the whole package when we're evaluating each city," Perez told the Journal Sentinel last fall. "The arena is one part of the package and obviously opening a brand new arena enables the city to have a very important asset where you can hold the convention.
"Obviously, given their ownership of the land around it and their ability to be flexible with that, that's obviously an important part of the bid moving forward,"
Milwaukee's bid committee has expressed confidence that the city has enough hotel rooms to accommodate tens of thousands of visitors who will converge on a convention city.
The local committee has also said it can raise the funds necessary to stage the event — around $70 million.
Milwaukee overcame a significant hurdle late last month when Barrett announced the city secured a third-party line of credit for the event.
The line of credit would serve as a backstop for the bid and wouldn't come into play until after the convention, and only then if the host committee falls short of fundraising and runs a deficit.
Barrett has said the line of credit does not include any city taxpayer money. But he has not publicly provided the total amount of the guarantee, as well as the names of individuals or groups providing it.
There should be more convention rumblings in the next few weeks as the race to host the Democrats in 2020 goes down to the wire.
The decision is expected to be announced sometime before or after the Democratic National Committee's Winter Meeting, scheduled Feb. 14-16.