Democrats postpone their national convention as coronavirus uncertainty abounds

Democrats postpone their national convention as coronavirus uncertainty abounds
Gage Sidmore

The Democratic National Convention was postponed to August on Thursday over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The event, which was originally scheduled to take place in mid-July, has been rescheduled for the week of Aug. 17, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

"After a great deal of scenario planning and giving thought to how it is this event can have the greatest impact in the electoral process and the greatest impact in terms of what we can bring to Milwaukee, we felt the best decision, not knowing all the answers, was to delay this," Democratic National Convention CEO Joe Solmones told the outlet.

The decision came after former Vice President Joe Biden, who has amassed a nearly insurmountable delegate lead in the Democratic race, told "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday that he expected the convention to be postponed.

"I doubt whether the Democratic convention is going to be able to be held in mid-July or early July. I think it's going to have to move into August," he said. "We were able to . . . in the middle of a Civil War all the way through to World War II have Democratic and Republican conventions, and primaries and elections and still have public safety. And we're able to do both, but the fact is it may have to be different."

Biden had hoped to extend his lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., but many states have delayed their primaries until May and June. The convention's host state, however, is still expected to hold its primary next week despite concerns about public health.

It remains unclear whether guidelines barring large gatherings will be lifted by August.

"Is it going to be a digital convention?" journalist Yashar Ali questioned. "Cause there's no way an in-person convention is happening."

poll released earlier this week found that 62% of Wisconsin residents supported holding an in-person convention, while just 22% believe it should proceed as scheduled.

Contingency options could also include a convention only attended by delegates, former Democratic National Convention CEO Leah Daughtry told CBS News.

The Democratic convention would be held a week after the Republican National Convention is scheduled to be held in Charlotte, N.C.

"We're not going to cancel," President Donald Trump told Fox News last week. "I think we're going to be in great shape long before then."

Trump has pushed the Republican Party to maintain its plans to hold the convention in August, The New York Times reported.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last week that stay-at-home guidelines will remain in place over a "matter of weeks" but predicted that testing and mitigation efforts would allow some restrictions to be lifted thereafter.

Lawmakers have called for the expansion of voting by mail this November in order to avoid crowding at polling sites.

"In terms of the elections, I think we'll probably be moving to vote by mail," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told MSNBC this week.

Some party officials suggested that the convention should be canceled entirely.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.