Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hotline says Denver back in play

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

I normally try not to show a full article, but the latest from the Hotline on the 2008 Democratic National Convention has nothing that can be skipped:

The city of Denver, which as recently as early September stood a small chance of securing the Democratic National Convention in '08, is a contender once again.

If anything, city leaders can thank the Republicans. Set side-by-side, New York's bid is stronger. But the political argument for Denver is far more compelling, thanks to its geographical location, the blue hue of growing parts of the state, its Latino population, and its Mountain West political culture.

Party sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Denver's third revision of its bid sufficiently addressed a number of technical concerns that originally caused some on the site selection committee to dismiss it entirely.

Some donors are pushing heavily for New York, which turned in superlative a bid and is heavily lobbying the DNC. But some of Howard Dean's closest advisers are warming to Denver.

Many on the site selection committee had high hopes for Denver and found themsleves taken aback by Denver's first official submission. It had been written by the city's convention and visitors bureau, which seemed to have mistaken a national party for a very large, but very ordinary, sports event. One official said that the first Denver bid seemed to be an appended version the city's attempt to land an NBA All-Star game.

And aside its patchwork quality, there was a major, seemingly intractible problem: the city had no union hotels and labor had little chance of organizing one before the convention. Denver's locals are on board, but many national labor leaders, already feeling underappreciated by the party, are withholding their approval.

But Denver's bid now highlights several strengths : the convention would be held in the Pepsi Center , which is surrounded by acres of open parking lots. That's perfect for the media, which sets up tent cities and builds newsrooms, and for security planners, who have plenty of space to set up barriers and control the flow of people and traffic. The Pepsi Center is attached to Denver's convention center,

well, no it isn't...
and the city's light rail line directly skirts major delegate and campaign hotels.

In the months since it first turned in its bid, Denver tightened some its hinges and hired Debbie Wilhite, a veteran convention organizer, to reorganize its effort. Meanwhile, the site selection committee turned its gaze to the Twin Cities. It had transporation problems but plenty of union hotels. By metrics alone, New York City's bid towered above other cities, and some on the committee argued internally that the security needs in a post-9/11 era couldn't really be met by any other muncipality.

Today: the GOP threw a wrench into the Democrats' calculations. The RNC site selection committee wasn't supposed to choose its city until -- at the earliest -- December. But Republicans said the strength of the Twin Cities' courtship, combined with a desire to prevent the Democrats from choosing a blue-trending battleground state, necessitated the surgical action. Cleveland, another finalist, simply couldn't provide the RNC with assurance that it had enough hotel rooms. Tampa had hurricanes. And a well-timed convention announcement might help Gov. Tim Pawlenty survive a tough re-election challenge this cycle.

Some Democrats speculate that the RNC wanted to avenge an embarassment; last year, the DNC surprised the Republicans by choosing their 2008 convention dates much earlier than anticipated.

Another plus for Denver: Republicans could choose New York in 2004 because of its 9/11 symbolism; the Democrats wouldn't be able to choose New York without explaining why they passed over two culturally distinct states in the interior of the country.

And Dean is an insurgent as much as he is a party leader. If donors and the party elite urge him to hold the convention in New York, he just might be inclined to throw his weight behind another city.
And just like that, and then there were two, and either city could win this thing.

Update: The New York Times adds this:
With Minneapolis out of contention, Democrats are now weighing whether Denver — an appealing Western spot in an increasingly volatile state — has enough union-run hotels to play host to their convention, which is sometimes larger than that of the Republicans. New York City has cleared the logistical bar for having the convention, officials said, but as a widely Democratic state, New York holds less political appeal than Colorado. And a potential Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton represents New York.
Back in the spring I wrote that there have been 4 "home state" conventions in recent years in the last 60 years:
Stevenson: '52, '56 - Chicago
Bush: '92 - Houston
Kerry: '04 - Boston
I don't know Stevenson's status in his 2 years, but Houston in '92 was clearly done for Bush's home state. Boston in '04 is certainly arguable - while Kerry was in the first tier of candidates in 2002, his nomination was certainly not guranteed. And anyway, I wonder if Bill isn't telling Hillary, you'll do better giving your speech in Denver. If she gets the nomination, it would not suprise me if one of her focuses is on her mid-western (Illinois, Arkansas) roots. If her people push for Denver, that would have a lot of sway.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Denver's Bid was always very well prepare, received excellent comments from the DNC and you do not go through two site visits, two receptions and three submittals to the DNC if you did not have an excellent proposal or the DNC would have kicked out Denver a long time ago. It was as "swift" and intentional move by the RNC by picking Minn/St. Paul and it will be very interesting for Gov. Dean to justify not to come to Denver. Get ready to sing Rocky Mountain High in 2008 folks!!!!!