By: - April 2, 2019 3:40 pm
The Democratic primary debate in 2016.

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

A swarm of Democratic presidential candidates will descend on Detroit this summer for a primary debate hosted by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and CNN.

The DNC announced on Tuesday that the Motor City will have a two-night debate spanning July 30 and 31, with specific details including time, location and moderators to be announced at a later date, according to reports.

The debate could potentially feature up to 20 candidates, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Noting that Michigan will likely serve as one of a few key battleground states in the 2020 election, Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) Chair Lavora Barnes said in a statement that Detroit is therefore a natural location for a primary debate.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and MSNBC host Chris Hayes
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand with MSNBC host Chris Hayes at town hall, March 18, 2019 | Andrew Roth

“The road to the White House runs through Michigan, and we are pleased that our partners at the Democratic National Committee have decided to hold one of our party’s all-important presidential debates here,” Barnes said.

“The issues we face in Michigan are not confined to our peninsulas,” she continued. “Protecting healthcare, creating good jobs, investing in public education, cleaning up our water, and fighting for hardworking people who want a level playing field are the concerns of all Americans.”

Michigan has already become a popular stop for the party’s presidential candidates. Both U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) made stops in southeast Michigan last month. Meanwhile, Republican President Donald Trump held a “Make America Great Again” rally in Grand Rapids last week.

Beto O'Rourke in Ferndale
Beto O’Rourke with Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters President Tom Lutz in Ferndale, March 18, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

During the Flint water crisis, the city hosted a primary debate for 2016 Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running again in 2020. Detroit hosted a 2016 GOP primary debate, as well.

Milwaukee has been picked as the site of the 2020 Democratic National Convention in another sign that Democrats view the Midwest as integral to retaking the White House.

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.