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DNC chair Tom Perez remains '100% committed to Milwaukee' after delaying party convention

DNC chair Tom Perez remains '100% committed to Milwaukee' after delaying party convention

CAP TIMES IDEA FEST (copy)

Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, appeared at Cap Times Idea Fest last fall.

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez he remains "100% committed to Milwaukee" after organizers pushed back the party's convention to mid-August amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The former U.S. Labor secretary said the decision to delay the gathering that was projected to bring some 50,000 delegates, journalists and others to the city by five weeks — from July 13-17 to the week of August 17 — came as officials sought to prioritize public safety and "buy us more time." 

"I continue to have optimism that we can make it work, especially with the delay," he said in an interview Friday, adding that postponing it "gives us greater options and a greater chance of being ably to carry off a successful convention."

While he touted his commitment to Milwaukee, he also praised "the resilience of Wisconsinites" generally. Perez has his own Wisconsin ties. His wife attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his daughter lives in an apartment just off campus, he said previously. 

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The convention's new dates place it one week before the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Aug. 24-27.  

Asked if Democrats considered pushing it back further, Perez said that wasn't possible because "we've got to move to the general election cycle," noting that the more it's delayed "the more problematic that becomes."  

Even with the changes, Perez said he was "absolutely confident" the convention would still have a positive economic impact in Wisconsin, though he noted predicting the number of attendees at this point is hard. Attendance rates, he said, would "be a function of where things are come later in the spring." 

"The delay is going to maximize the likelihood of having more robust participation and more robust participation means more people in hotels, more people spending money in Wisconsin," he said.

He also dismissed the possibility of a brokered convention, as the field has winnowed to former Vice President Joe Biden as the front runner and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won Wisconsin's presidential primary in 2016. 

"I think we will have unity in our convention behind the nominee and there is an acute understanding of the importance of defeating Donald Trump and that is a uniquely unifying force for the Democratic Party," he said.

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Briana Reilly covers state government and politics for the Cap Times. She joined the staff in 2019, after working at WisPolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter at @briana_reilly.

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