Thursday, June 15, 2006

Convention-al Wisdom

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

I've been waiting to use that title for a while. Here are some thoughts, opinions and quotes from some news articles on the site selection process for the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

Also that New York is the safe bet, a tried-and-true convention city that can handle the logistical details at least as well, if not better, than it did for the Republicans in 2004. And, this being a Democratic town, empty some of the deepest Democratic pockets to pay for a spectacular event.
“Nothing could more eloquently speak to America’s resolve not to be defeated,” Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff told The Observer in July 2002, “than to see democracy celebrated in this city.” Expect that tone in one of New York’s competitors’ bids: New Orleans, still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, is another finalist for the convention nod.
The final decision will be up to Howard Dean, the Democratic chairman, a New York native—but also one who has been pushing a 50-state policy, intent on winning support anywhere and everywhere, even in traditional red states. In pursuing the policy, though, he has been butting heads with Rahm Emanuel, an Illinois Congressman and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who favors investing money in races the party already has a chance of winning.
“Rahm Emanuel might favor New York, thinking it’s a place where you may be able to pick up a few upstate seats, versus Howard Dean, who would say, ‘Why not go to Denver and eventually turn it into fertile ground for Democrats?’” said Ross Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University. “It never works. Frankly, I see no advantage in where the convention is held in terms of how many votes it pulls in. There may be some symbolic significance in having it in one place or another. But frankly, I think everybody wants to come to New York and will look for an excuse.”

In other words, New York is no longer the sentimental choice; that would be New Orleans. But right now the local committee is working on answering additional questions raised by its first bid, submitted in May, according to Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee. No visit has been scheduled.
The Minneapolis visit, scheduled for June 26, will take D.N.C. members through a onetime capital of the Democratic heartland that has been exhibiting Republican tendencies lately. The site selection committee will also visit Denver, where Democrats run both state houses and recently recaptured a Senate seat.

Denver is the supposed front-runner, with a seven-year-old arena and a brand-new convention-center hotel. Sources said Denver also fit in with Dr. Dean’s “50-state” strategy, in which the Democrats attempt ambitious wins in previously hostile territory.
Denver is the supposed front-runner, with a seven-year-old arena and a brand-new convention-center hotel. Sources said Denver also fit in with Dr. Dean’s “50-state” strategy, in which the Democrats attempt ambitious wins in previously hostile territory. Another source said that the size of the Denver and Minneapolis arenas would allow Dr. Dean to hold a convention that accommodated the largest possible number of people.

Neither theory of the D.N.C.’s motives would seem to put New York—or its small, somewhat haggard convention site at Madison Square Garden—in a particularly good light by comparison. The Minneapolis Metrodome, for instance, could hold some 10,000 more people when configured as a convention site.

But whether Denver or Minneapolis could deliver the hotel accommodations needed might be another question. Denver’s bid has already been cursed by labor leaders angry because the city’s hotels have been unfriendly to unions. That could turn the party’s most important constituency against it. In New York, by contrast, the Central Labor Council favors a convention in 2008 and has already begun discussions for a no-strike agreement, according to Carolyn Daly, a spokeswoman.

Mr. Sheekey downplayed the Garden’s lower capacity, saying that the main point was to give ready access to media outlets and thereby a national television audience—that is, assuming people actually watch party conventions these days.
Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker said and Democrats [would benefit] by selecting New Orleans. Democratic Party leaders have tried to make the Katrina catastrophe a metaphor for Republican incompetence and cronyism.

"To have it in the Superdome, where all those people were abandoned, would be a great symbolic gesture for Democrats," Baker said.

There's some good analysis here. I'm not sure the size of MSG will make a big differerence versus the other arenas, although if the Democrats want to be in a dome, both New York and Denver could lose out. I didn't focus on the money issue here - I will soon - but it's going to be a big part of the equation, and New York will usually win any money competition.


Anonymous said...

I think that New Orleans' bid will end soon, as will New York's (It'll just last longer than expected). I see Denver getting the convention; it looks like the most logical place politically and socially. Minneapolis would probably have a better chance in 2012, anyway (especially if Minnesotan Al Franken trys his luck at a Senate seat). Also: Denver is getting the dem-celebrity backers: Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Howard Dean (the guy you really want on your team). I also think that Colorado's purple state appeal will attract conservative dems and liberals alike in the goal of winning the biggest election in 2008.

Matt said...

You may be right about New Orleans, but I disagree on New York. I think New York will be in it until the end, although I agree that Denver is still the favorite.

Anonymous said...

Now that my home city of Las Vegas is out of the running, I don't really have a horse in this race. The four finalists are all GREAT towns that I'd look forward to visiting should I be fortunate enough to get another chance to be a delegate.

I'd love to go to Denver, but it seems to me that a Denver convention depends on one of two scenarios:

1) UNITE HERE and the rest of the labor movement give their blessing to a convention in a city with virtually no union accommodations and promise not to put delegates and elected officials in the awkward position of crossing picket lines several times a day while at the same time proclaiming that the GOP is screwing the American worker. OR

2) The Denver-area hotel industry decides to adopt a go along, get along union policy.

It seems to me that these are both very unlikely scenarios. Organized labor, already deemed politically irrelevant by some, would not want to risk the appearance of having lost their clout in the Democratic Party, the only major political institution where they still have some degree of influence. The hotels, on the other hand, may (and should) eventually adopt a pro-union or union-neutral stance as a matter of good business practice. However, to make such a decision, with permanent ramifications, for the sake of attracting a single one-week event seems very unrealistic.

Obviously, to name Denver as the host city before these matters are addressed would be extremely risky, as it would not be practical to move to another city after serious planning begins. Therefore, the labor issue needs to be resolved in the next five months, six tops.

For these reasons, I am surprised to hear unbiased observers name Denver as a favorite to host the convention. Does anyone have any serious thoughts on how this situation can be resolved?

Anonymous said...

I can't really imagine the labor-union issue getting so big it'll halt Denver's bid. I think this issue will either 1; blow over by itself (over before it started), or 2; Hickenlooper will score points with everybody and work it out with the union bosses. Matt made a good point about New York, but all the same, I think Denver will win, and is really the best bet for the party. Also: Matt, where do you think the RNC will go? Word from Kos is that their down to Cleveland, New York, Miineapolis, or Tampa-St. Petersberg. I'm thinking Tampa. How about anyone else?

Matt said...

I would first rule out New York for the GOP. Been there, done that. Of the other 3, the articles I've read suggest Minneapolis and Tampa would seem to be the front-runners.

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