Democrats to delay convention until August
The Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee will be delayed for a month because of the coronavirus pandemic, the host committee announced on Thursday.
The Democratic nominating convention will now take place over four days beginning on Aug. 17 after originally being scheduled to take place July 13-16. The Hill was first to report on the change.
A source close to Joe Biden’s campaign told The Hill that the former vice president pushed to have the convention moved, while keeping the same format.
However, the Democratic National Convention Committee said it is still determining the “most appropriate structure for this historic event,” possibly indicating that changes to limit the number of people in attendance might be in the works.
“In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention,” said Joe Solmonese, the CEO of the Democratic National Convention. “During this critical time, when the scope and scale of the pandemic and its impact remain unknown, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of health care professionals and emergency responders.”
The Republican National Convention, where President Trump will be nominated, is scheduled to take place Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte, N.C.
The party out of power typically holds its convention about a month before the incumbent’s party.
But many states have stay-at-home orders in place through June, and Democrats had been grappling over the question of whether the nation will have returned to normal by mid-July.
Democrats did not want to move the convention to a time that would conflict with the Olympics, which had been scheduled to take place over two weeks in late July to early August. However, the Tokyo Summer Games have since been postponed by a year.
There has been some frustration with the process among Democratic National Committee members in Wisconsin, who said they were not consulted about the changes. And there are still questions about whether delaying the convention by a month is the right solution with so much uncertainty around when the outbreak will be under control.
“I understand the need to move fast to change the date, especially with Biden calling for it yesterday,” said Andrew Werthmann, a DNC member from Wisconsin. “But in fairness, I’m sure this was being planned for weeks, maybe months, and as a DNC member in the state that is hosting, I wasn’t aware of that. The word we kept getting was status quo. I think the other point is that frankly, while I hope by August things are safe enough to hold the convention, right now that feels ambitious.”
The convention would bring thousands of people to Milwaukee, packing them closely together into a basketball arena. Political operatives and thousands of reporters descend on the host cities every four years, staying in local hotels and going out to restaurants and bars.
The host committee has said that ensuring the safety of attendees is its top priority. The committee has met regularly with local, state and federal officials to follow their guidance.
The Hill reported on Wednesday that convention officials are considering limiting the in-person convention to delegates and essential party leaders. There is also talk about having only one delegate from each state attend the convention in person, while the rest cast their ballots by digital proxy.
However, the hope is that the worst of the coronavirus will have passed by late summer and that life will have returned to normal.
“I have always believed that American innovation and ingenuity shine brightest during our darkest days, and for that reason, I’m confident our convention planning team and our partners will find a way to deliver a convention in Milwaukee this summer that places our Democratic nominee on the path to victory in November,” Solmonese said.
— Updated at 12:26 p.m.
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