MILWAUKEE — Democrats have chosen Milwaukee to host their 2020 national convention.
The Democratic National Committee's decision will take the party to the heart of the working-class upper Midwest that delivered President Donald Trump to the White House.
Before 2016, Republicans hadn't won Wisconsin since 1984. Trump added Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania to upset Hillary Clinton.
DNC Chairman Tom Perez picked Milwaukee over Miami and Houston. It will be the first time in more than a century that Democrats gather in a Midwest city other than Chicago to nominate their presidential candidate.
Milwaukee will be one the smallest cities to host a presidential convention, topping two other finalist cities that have hosted national political conventions and Super Bowls.
“It’s certainly disappointing,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner about the news. “But it gave us an opportunity to showcase the City of Houston on a national level.”
The city’s pitch included a pep rally and a public/private partnership worth millions.
Turner said Tillman Fertitta even agreed to cut rental fees at Toyota Center.
But it was never a slam dunk, even with recent reassurances from Democratic party leaders.
“I mean, the chairperson of the site selection committee flew in a week and a half ago, quietly, and met with me,” said Turner. “And told me Houston was the choice of the site selection committee and, personally, was her choice.”
Some people are pointing to Proposition B as a sticking point. In fact, a national firefighters union figure reportedly said there’d be trouble in Houston if the convention came here.
And the DNC chairman said supporting labor unions is a necessity.
“I think there’s obviously, more than we’ll ever know in this story,” said KHOU Political Analyst Bob Stein.
Stein said national political strategy also plays a role and while Texas may be on its way, Wisconsin is already a true battleground state.
“I don’t think this was a decision made solely on how many hotels, which we have many more,” said Stein. “It was made on the basis of simply “could we win Wisconsin? Will this help us?”
Houston First, which spearheaded the effort to attract the DNC in 2020, believes it will only help Houston in years to come.
“We still believe that we had the best package and the best delegate experience would have been in Houston,” said Houston First CEO Brenda Bazan. “But we wish Milwaukee well.”
Turner said organizations that helped front money for the bid would be reimbursed.
Mayor Turner released the following statement about the news Monday morning:
"We are deeply disappointed that the DNC will not bring its 2020 national convention to Houston. Our bid brought together people from both major political parties, and from no particular party, to show that our welcoming city represents the demographic future of America -- and has unmatched experience with putting on mega-events. As Houston has proven many times with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Astros World Series Championship parade, the Super Bowl and the Final Four, the nation’s most diverse and fourth most-populous city is an effective host to the world, relying on great people from the private, non-profit, institutional and government sectors to unite and say ‘howdy’ in more than 100 languages.
As the late President George H.W. Bush wrote to me in June in support of our bid, ‘Our facilities and hotels are world class, but it’s really our people – the spirit of our fellow Houstonians – that makes the key difference. No one works harder; no one is friendlier or more welcoming.’ We wish the DNC convention planners well and look forward to using our facilities for other highly successful activities in July 2020.”