Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dem state party chairs want Denver

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

In a sign of broad support in most of the country, Democratic state party chairs overwhelmingly prefer Denver as the site of the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

Of 36 state party chairs who gave a preference when surveyed by The Denver Post, 31 chose Denver and five New York. Hawaii did not respond; the rest had no clear favorite. Democratic Party national chairman Howard Dean will make the final decision, and the opinions of the state leaders are in no way binding.

And, based on interviews with party leaders, Denver must still contend with a lingering perception that the city is unfriendly to organized labor, and must satisfy the party that it will have the necessary hotel rooms, security and - most of all - cash.

“Ultimately, it probably comes down to the deal - what the city is able to provide in terms of logistics, money, security considerations, hotels, transportation,” said one chairman whose state has hosted a recent national political convention and who asked to speak anonymously about his experience.
The state party organizations form the core of Dean’s base within the Democratic Party, and a Western convention would spotlight the party’s revival in the region, said many Democratic leaders. “Colorado is a great venue to talk about winning the heartland of America and the West,” said Alabama state chairman Joe Turnham.

“I prefer Denver. That’s where our future lies, quite frankly,” said California chairman Art Torres. “It’s the Rocky Mountain strategy that is going to bring the Democratic Party to the White House.”
“It’s very gratifying,” said Debbie Willhite, executive director of Denver’s convention host committee, when told Tuesday night about the tally. “We have every indication that Gov. Dean is very favorable to Denver,” Willhite said. “The decision will be based on a lot of nuts and bolts, and we’re right in there with a lot of nuts and bolts.”

New York, of course, has its committed fans. Even those who like Denver acknowledge that the Big Apple is a national media center, chock full of restaurants and other diversions. “New York is New York,” said Nebraska state chair Steven Achelpohl. “You can’t beat the excitement, and it’s a political epicenter.”

Several state leaders had fond memories of the 1992 New York convention that chose the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton. New York “seems to be where we nominate candidates who later become president,” said Texas chairman Boyd Richie.
And Denver must still fight the perception that the city is not friendly to unions. Several state leaders said they have been told of objections to Denver by their allies in organized labor because of a lack of union hotels in the city. They had not heard that Denver labor leaders later withdrew their opposition, nor that workers at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center have formed a union.

Still, Denver had broad support across the country. Western governors and party leaders have been pushing the city as a convention site, and 12 Western state chairs endorsed Colorado’s bid. And Southern chairs, who can also feel neglected in a party dominated by Northern states, sided with their Western counterparts. Six of the seven Southern state leaders who expressed a preference chose Denver.

“It is an area of the country we definitely need to reach out to,” said North Carolina chairman Jerry Meek. “And the people of Colorado think more like North Carolina than New Yorkers.” Only two of eight Northeastern leaders who had an opinion chose New York. And Colorado came out on top among the Midwesterners who voiced a preference, seven to two.

The Association of State Democratic Chairs wil be having their next meeting on November 17 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Dean will be attending. It's been suggested that this could be a great time and place to announce Denver as the host of the 2008 convention. And if not, I would imagine that many of these state chairs might just use the opportunity to mention their opinions to Chairman Dean.


Anonymous said...

"And Denver must still fight the perception that the city is not friendly to unions."

Knock it off, Matt. Denver's got it goin' on.

DenverDan said...

It's from the article, not Matt.

Anonymous said...

I really hope Denver can land the DNC, because of the kind of impact it really could have on western Democrat morale. Pundits downplay it, but these things do do something for voters.