"This choice is a statement of our values," Perez said in a statement. "The Democratic Party is the party of working people, and Milwaukee is a city of working people."
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called it a "great day" for Brew Town, and said, "We are ready to showcase Milwaukee on one of the largest stages in the world."
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The Democrats' 2016 presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, was widely criticized by the party after the election for not campaigning in Wisconsin, a state she had been expected to win. Donald Trump carried the state by 22,748 votes — less than one percent of the overall vote. Barack Obama won the state by 6.7 percent in 2012.
The DNC selection process has been ongoing for months — longer than the cities expected, causing some frustration among organizers in the various locales. The original list also included Atlanta, Denver, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Birmingham.
That was narrowed down to the three finalists last year, although Milwaukee was always seen as the frontrunner, because it would signal a commitment to winning back the Midwest. Miami would have been a boost in the most important swing state in the country, and Houston would have been a bet on the party’s future — it’s one of the most diverse cities in the country in a giant state that has been becoming more blue.
Some Democrats had been concerned that choosing Milwaukee would open the party up to Clinton jabs, which Republicans immediately started making on social media.
"That's one way to get Hillary to finally go there," Donald Trump Jr. tweeted.
That's one way to get Hillary to finally go there, and for Dems to pretend they care about flyover country. https://t.co/9VL5eOy5fP
Some Democrats also were concerned about logistical issues — including an overall lack of hotel space near the convention site — but had worries about the other cities as well. There was also grumbling that the fix was in for Milwaukee because Perez has personal connections to the city — his wife’s family is from there — but he has denied that.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said in a statement that, "We're disappointed, obviously, but proud of our effort and of our bipartisan hometown team." Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said, "We wish the DNC convention planners well," but added they were "deeply disappointed" by the decision.
The convention is scheduled for July 13-16, about five weeks before the Republicans are scheduled to hold their convention in Charlotte, N.C..
The DNC held its 2016 national convention in Philadelphia, Pa. — a state Trump also won by less than one percent.
The selection of Milwaukee was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Seitz-Wald reported from Austin, Texas, and Gregorian from New York City.
Alex Seitz-Wald is senior digital politics reporter for NBC News.
Dareh Gregorian is a politics reporter for NBC News.