The Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee both insisted Wednesday that their respective conventions remain on the calendar, despite concerns that the coronavirus lockdown could stretch well into the summer.
Chairman of the RNC convention, Michael Whatley, told supporters in a letter, issued over the weekend, that the convention committee “is firmly committed to moving forward” and that convention will happen in Charlotte, North Carolina, as planned.
“Whatley said the RNC is working closely with governments to determine whether any changes to the convention scheduled are needed,” local North Carolina outlet WSOC-TV said Wednesday. “Whatley also said the state GOP convention slated for mid-May in Greenville is still on, but the schedule or venue could be changed depending on COVID-19 developments.”
It is possible to hold the convention via teleconference, the RNC admitted, but that’s not ideal, particularly given that President Donald Trump will accept his party’s nomination at the August event — a nomination that is both uncontested and, so far, unanimous.
Whatley added that the party has “not had any substantive conversations about alternative scenarios,” but that they are committed to preserving the health and safety of attendees, who typically include not just the President’s supporters and campaign staff, but also Republican bigwigs, and members of the mainstream media.
The RNC, though, is in a better position than the DNC. The Republicans hold their convention toward the end of August, but the Democrats are forging ahead with plans to hold a convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the start of July. The DNC’s convention committee, however, says they’re forging ahead.
“There are no plans to cancel the convention and we are not considering a rules change at this time,” Xochitl Hinojosa, the DNC’s communications director told Politico on Monday. “Contingency planning is a routine part of preparations for any convention.”
Several major events slated to take place around the same time, including the 2020 Olympic Summer Games, have been either postponed or canceled, out of fear that, even if the threat of coronavirus has passed by then, massive gatherings could reignite the spread of the virus.
“Given what the experts are saying, delegates may end up on a phone call,” one DNC member told Politico. “Push 1 for Sanders, push 2 for Biden, push 3 for Bloomberg and push 8 for Yang, etc.”
Other sources close to the DNC tell Politico that it’s likely the convention is actually “up in the air,” but that no one is admitting it. The Democrats need to keep the convention on the calendar because, unlike Republicans, they have a contested primary and, at this point, neither former Vice President Joe Biden nor Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) may get enough votes to snag the nomination outright, leaving the DNC with a “brokered convention” scenario.
If more states cancel or postpone their primaries, the chances of a nominee-less party increases dramatically. The probability, at this point, is so high that neither Biden nor Sanders will secure the nod, that some Democrats are suggesting New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who is handling the coronavirus outbreak in New York — widely considered the United States’ largest coronavirus “hot zone” — could step in and grab the nomination.