Debate commission considering Ann Arbor as 2020 venue

    The University of Michigan
    University of Michigan Law School | Creative Commons

    The nonpartisan Commission for Presidential Debates is considering Ann Arbor as one of six potential locations for one of the three presidential debates that will lead up to the 2020 election.

    Politico reported Wednesday that the commission is considering the home of the University of Michigan alongside Nashville, Tenn.; Hartford, Conn.; Omaha, Neb.; Notre Dame, Ind.; and Salt Lake City, Utah. According to the commission, each of the applicants for the planned 2020 debates between President Trump and an as-yet-to-be-named Democratic contender was a university, with the exception of the city of Hartford.

    The Democratic primary debate in 2016.
    Democratic presidential debate held at the University of Michigan-Flint, 2016 | Susan J. Demas

    The Democratic National Committee announced this week that Detroit will host two nights of debate in July between the numerous Democrats seeking their party’s nomination. According to the Detroit Free Press, those debates could feature as many as 20 contenders — and the field is rapidly speeding toward that number, as just today U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) became the 17th Democrat to formally announce a bid.

    Michigan has hosted three 2020 candidates over the last month alone former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and the incumbent president himself, Donald Trump. In 2016, Flint and Detroit each hosted a Democratic and Republican primary debate, respectively.

    Democrats and Republicans widely agree that Michigan, along with other Upper Midwest states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that collectively lifted Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016, is crucial to the president’s re-election or his defeat. Last Thursday’s rally in Grand Rapids was the official start of Trump’s re-election campaign, and the city was his final stop in 2016, leading Michigan GOP chair to call the city the president’s “lucky charm.”

    The debate commission’s deadline for hosting applications was April 2. The commission has not yet announced when the winners will be chosen.

    Derek Robertson
    Derek Robertson is a former associate editor of the Advance. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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