The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is looking at contingency options for its July convention amid a growing expectation that the coronavirus crisis will not have abated by the time the parties are ready to nominate their presidential candidates.
“As we navigate the unprecedented challenge of responding to the coronavirus, we’re exploring a range of contingency options to ensure we can deliver a successful convention without unnecessary risk to public health,” Katie Peters, communications director for the DNC’s convention committee, said in a statement.
Peters added it is a “very fluid situation” with the convention more than three months away. To date, there are 43,000 cases of Covid-19 reported in the United States and 500 people in the US have died.
The host committee for the Democratic National Convention has raised $3.1 million for the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, event and had a little more than $95,000 cash on hand at the end of February, according to its filings with the Federal Election Commission. The GOP has raised $6.8 million for its convention, to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the end of August, and ended February with $2 million in the bank. The Republican National Committee has not said whether it has changed its plans in the face of coronavirus.
A convention is the only mechanism the parties have to nominate a presidential pick. If the pandemic persists, they would have to change the rules in order to hold a non-traditional convention. Voting by proxy at the national convention is prohibited under current rules.
DNC Chairman Tom Perez told NPR on March 10 he didn’t “think the Democratic convention is in jeopardy.” And two days later, in an interview with Axios, he said he was “not contemplating” a rules change to allow for an online convention to take place.
But Joe Solmonese, CEO of the DNC convention committee, said in a statement on March 10 that ensuring the convention is safe is a top priority and staffers will follow the guidance of the CDC and state and local health officials.
“Every convention necessitates developing a number of contingency plans to provide for a variety of scenarios,” Solmonese said. “As we prepare to welcome Americans to Milwaukee this summer, the convention team will remain in constant communication with the local, state, and federal authorities responsible for protecting public health and security.”
Tatum Gibson, national press secretary for the Republican National Convention, said the GOP is also moving forward with planning its convention and will continue to be in contact with officials on all levels.
“As we move forward with planning, we remain in communication with local, state and federal officials,” Gibson said, “and we will continue to closely monitor the situation and work with all stakeholders and health authorities to ensure every necessary precaution is taken into account.”
DNC staffers have been in Wisconsin for more than a year planning and preparing for July 13-17 event. Wisconsin Governor Evers declared a “Safer at Home” order on Monday. He had called on schools and most businesses to close, as well as asked that people not gather in groups larger than 10.
As of last week, both DNC staffers and Wisconsin Democratic Party staffers have been asked to work from home.