The Democratic National Convention’s host committee in Milwaukee has cut its staff by more than half as the coronavirus pandemic has raised questions about whether and how the political parties’ conventions can be held this summer.
The Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee, which recruits volunteers, raises money and organizes venues for convention activities, reduced its staff from 31 members to 14, a party official said Thursday.
Of the 17 departures, six were laid off and 11 were offered transfers to roles as party organizers or with the Democratic National Convention Committee, a separate organization that plans and conducts the convention itself. Those who were laid off will continue to receive health insurance through August.
The cuts were first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“The entire nation is facing the unprecedented challenge of responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and unfortunately, the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee is no different. In this climate of uncertainty, we must adjust our plans to match the new reality we’re facing as a nation,” host committee CEO Raquel Filmanowicz said in a statement.
“We are proud of all that the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee has accomplished and grateful for the contributions of everyone on our team,” she said. “As we work to help our staff transition through this difficult time, we remain steadfast in our commitment to hosting a successful and safe Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee this August.”
Joe Solmonese, the Democratic National Convention Committee CEO, said in a statement his group is “committed to doing everything we can to support the employees who are transitioning as the Host Committee makes adjustments to continue their important work in light of this unprecedented global pandemic.”
The move comes after the party had already delayed its convention, originally planned for mid-July, until August – the week before the Republican National Convention will nominate President Donald Trump for a second term.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has already said the party might need to hold a “virtual convention.”
“I think we should be thinking about that right now. The idea of holding the convention is going to be necessary. We may not be able to put 10, 20, 30,000 people in one place,” he said on ABC earlier this month.