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Dems pick Milwaukee for 2020 convention over Miami, Houston (copy)

In this Oct. 31, 2017 photo, the downtown skyline over looks Lake Michigan in Milwaukee. The Democratic National Committee has selected Milwaukee to host the 2020 national convention. (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

Milwaukee will host the 2020 Democratic National Convention, solidifying Wisconsin's role as a battleground state four years after it propelled President Donald Trump to the White House.

The Associated Press first reported that Milwaukee had edged out Houston and Miami after a long competition to determine which city would host the event where Democrats will nominate a candidate to challenge Trump.

"I would like to thank Miami for their participation," joked Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, praising the decision to hold the convention in his hometown.

Barnes said the pick was "absolutely the right call." 

Early visits from presidential contenders including Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke have signaled Wisconsin will play a key role in the 2020 election. The state delivered its 10 electoral votes to Trump by a 22,000-vote margin in 2016, making him the first Republican presidential candidate to win the state since 1984.

In the months that followed Trump's victory, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was widely criticized for not setting foot in Wisconsin after losing the state's primary to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Trump has returned to Wisconsin several times since the election, most recently to campaign for former Gov. Scott Walker and former U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir in October. Both lost their 2018 races.

"This choice is a statement of our values, and I'm thrilled Milwaukee will host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. The Democratic Party is the party of working people, and Milwaukee is a city of working people," said DNC chair Tom Perez in a statement. "We saw in this last election what we can accomplish when we come together, invest, and fight for working people, and that was proven right here in Wisconsin"

The convention is scheduled for July 13-16, 2020, with most activities expected to be held at the new Fiserv Forum. It will be Wisconsin's first-ever major national party convention, and the DNC's first time in the Midwest since its 1996 Chicago convention.

The effort to bring the convention to Milwaukee was led by Milwaukee Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Gov. Tony Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

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The convention is expected to bring more than 50,000 people to Milwaukee with an estimated $200 million impact on the region.

The city secured a third-party line of credit earlier this year.

Wisconsin Republicans welcomed the economic boost the convention is expected to deliver while noting that Milwaukee elected three socialist mayors between 1910 and 1948.

"No city in America has stronger ties to socialism than Milwaukee," said Republican Party of Wisconsin executive director Mark Jefferson. "And with the rise of Bernie Sanders and the embrace of socialism by its newest leaders, the American left has come full circle. It’s only fitting the Democrats would come to Milwaukee."

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.