Open Letter to the Democratic National Committee:
You need to choose Miami for the 2020 Democratic National Convention over Houston and Milwaukee, the other two recently announced finalists.
Now, I know what you are thinking: “Schale, you are really biased on this one.” And while I'm s a lifelong White Sox fan who grew up being taught Milwaukee was its own circle of hell since it was the home of the hated Brewers, there are very real political reasons why Florida makes the most sense in 2020.
Let’s start with point one: Donald Trump will not be reelected if he loses Florida. The last Republican to go to the White House without winning Florida was Calvin Coolidge. Win Florida, and it is over. Period.
Yes, Democrats have a path to the White House without Florida, but that path gets a lot easier through the land of 29 electoral votes, a state that Democrats have won in three of the last six presidential contests—and that some, including me, would argue we won four times.
Florida is also one of the most rapidly growing states in the land, and its growth looks like the emerging national Democratic coalition: younger and driven by people of color. The Democratic National Convention is an opportunity to bring our aspirational message of building an America that works for all directly to the voters who will decide our fate not only in 2020, but for years to come.
The convention is more than a messaging event. At its core, it should be one great big organizing tool. Honestly, I think it should be required of all able delegates to pull at least one, if not two organizing shifts in order to receive their credentials.
If you view the convention as an organizing tool, Miami—and South Florida in general—is an area with constant organizing requirements. In fact, if you go back to the start of 2016, Miami and Broward counties have seen their voter totals grow by 197,281 voters. And 96 percent of that growth—yes, you read that right, 96 percent—has been among voters of color. Just imagine the number of one-on-one conversations that could take place during the week of the convention, as well as the amount of potential voter registration and general organizing.
More importantly, the organizing opportunities to help Florida get it right will pay very real dividends, not only in 2020, but in 2022 and beyond. And I feel very confident in saying this: if we get it right in 2020, the first DNC reception of 2021 will take place in a large white house at the corner of 16th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, instead of in some nameless Hilton outside of Indianapolis (not that there is anything wrong with Indy, other than the Colts).
Sure, there are plenty of obvious other reasons: the beaches are nicer, the community is a cultural and food bonanza, and Miami is literally set up to entertain for these kinds of events. There are plenty of hotels, getting around isn’t that bad, and the Idaho delegation won’t be commuting from the Hampton Inn in Oshkosh every day.
But more importantly, from a sheer “we need to win” vantage point, the case is even more compelling. Florida is home to razor-close elections. What changes the math in razor-close elections? Organizing. And what does organizing require? People. If viewed through the lens of how we win the White House in 2020, there is no other choice.
I have nothing against the good people of Wisconsin, sports aside. They wisely chose my friend Mandela Barnes as their next lieutenant governor in the last election, and they are a vital part of our coalition to win. But there's one thing we must be careful about in every election—fighting the last war. Wisconsin has voted Democratic in seven of the last eight elections, and I am confident, as we saw in 2018, we will get this back in 2020.
There are arguments for Houston, as Democrats continue to make gains not only in Houston, but around Texas. But the reality is that Texas, a state Trump won by 9 percent in 2016, is more of a work in progress than it is a solid member of the 2020 battleground club. The party should continue to lean in there, investing in voter registration and organizing efforts, but our convention site in 2020 should be in a place we can win now.
Florida is a hyper competitive state, as purple in presidential elections as purple can get. Nothing comes easy here—it is a state decided by inches. Add up the last seven presidential elections, and you will find a state where 51 million ballots have been cast, and only 19,000 votes separated the winners from the losers. Moreover, the last two presidential elections have been decided by a single percentage point, as have our last three governor’s races.
In choosing Florida for the convention, we are leaning forward, continuing the first steps taken by Barack Obama in 2008 to reshape the state’s electorate and put Florida forever in play for Democrats—and in doing so, changing the electoral math for Democrats for generations to come—and taking one vital piece off the Republican’s chess board.
So, choose Miami. Not just because it is a great place to visit—not just for the hotels and the beaches and the restaurants—but choose Miami because in doing so, you will help us take a huge step forward as a party.
2008 Obama Florida State Director, and 2012 Obama Florida Senior Advisor.