Democrat state convention preview: A message of unity and a plan for coronavirus

NOW: Democrat state convention preview: A message of unity and a plan for coronavirus

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – State Democrats will hold a condensed, virtual state convention Friday evening and while it is a departure from their original in-person event, they believe it will still have an impact.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin originally planned to hold a multi-day, in-person state convention in Wisconsin Dells but decided to shift to a virtual one because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Presumptive nominee Joe Biden is slated to speak as well as state leaders including Gov. Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

“Looking forward most to the discussion about unity, about moving forward,” Barnes told CBS 58. “We are much better off together than by succumbing to the divisive politics of Donald Trump.”

Barnes believes the message of unity can help build the party’s voter base and overcome the approximately 23,000 votes that President Trump won the state by in 2016.

“Closing that gap, a lot of is closing the enthusiasm gap and making sure we work to rebuild the coalitions that fell apart over the years,” Barnes said. “And that just means simply, reaching out and having conversations with people.”

The COVID-19 pandemic shifted the strategies for both parties, but Democrats hope to highlight their policies on the economy and healthcare to win voters ahead of November.

“With COVID-19 they’re facing underemployment and unemployment and how are people going to be able to pay their bills,” State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski said in a video interview with CBS 58. “It’s really looking at those issues that affect Wisconsinites’ lives every single day.”

The state GOP was forced to move its state convention from May to July, but still plans on holding a modified, in-person convention in Green Bay. Republicans hope to highlight what they view as mistakes by the Evers administration regarding the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and President Trump’s plan of recovery.

“Republicans offer a path forward,” former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch told CBS 58 in an interview. “And I think that’s what the president is going to be saying repeatedly over the next several months.”

Kleefisch noted voters are more engaged with news because of the pandemic and unrest following the death of George Floyd. The former lieutenant governor believes it offers an opportunity for Republicans to engage with voters and share ideas that they normally would not have heard.

Despite the state convention being condensed to a two-hour virtual event, Democrats say it will still have a significant impact.

“The motivation that people still have to be active and involved is increasing day by day,” Barnes said. “That energy remains and we look forward to building on that.”

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