Sunday, December 10, 2006

How to bid for a convention: Loudly or Quietly

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

As I touched on last week, Denver and New York are pursuing their bids to host the 2008 Democratic Convention in very different ways, Denver being very upfront and public, and New York doing their stuff mostly behind the scenes. The Denver Post expands on the topic:

The two cities bidding to host the Democratic National Convention have done so with styles that could not be more different.

Denver officials, conscious of the fact that their city is an unknown entity for the Democrats, have made a highly public effort to push Denver's strength as a burgeoning Democratic base and counter concerns about fundraising and lodging issues.

New York, which has hosted five party conventions since Denver hosted its only one in 1908, has remained quietly suave and debonair as Denver scrambles to woo the Democratic suitor.

"Denver's got a larger sales job to do," New York Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf said. "New York, from an accommodations standpoint, has an easier job to do."

With a decision from Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean due in just a day or two, Denver officials readily agree with Sheinkopf, comparing their effort to a David-and-Goliath kind of struggle. "We've had to show a little more leg," said Debbie Willhite, the executive director of Denver's host committee. "We're a little bit of an unknown quantity for the Democrats."

The difference is tangible. When Dean called Bill Ritter last month to congratulate the Democrat on being elected governor of Colorado, Ritter took the opportunity to lobby for the 2008 party convention. "We all understand what a big economic boon it would be not just for the city, but for the entire state," Ritter said. Estimates, which are in dispute, suggest metro Denver could feel a $160 million economic impact from the 35,000 delegates and reporters descending on the city.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper has been actively campaigning for the convention for months, vowing to push governors of eight states around Colorado to raise money for a "Western convention."

It's a little different in New York. Like Colorado, New York has a Democratic governor-elect, Eliot Spitzer. But when asked by a reporter last week what he was doing for New York's bid, a spokeswoman referred calls to Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "As you know, Eliot was just elected, so this has been the governor and the mayor's work," Spitzer spokeswoman Christina Anderson said. Several calls to the offices of Pataki and Bloomberg were not returned.

Bloomberg did travel to Chicago this summer to host a reception for Democratic state delegates in hopes of winning the convention. And both of New York's Democratic senators, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer, have at least lobbied for the convention. But those public efforts are a whisper compared with Denver's megaphone.

Since Denver became one of three finalists for the convention (Minneapolis won the GOP convention and is no longer in contention for the Democrats), city officials have successfully helped push for the first union hotel in the city in decades. Hickenlooper championed the idea of a regional convention, tapping the enthusiasm of states all across the Rocky Mountain West.

Sen. Ken Salazar's office recruited Western Democratic senators to endorse Denver's effort. And the host committee has taken every opportunity to allay concerns about the region's ability to supply the necessary $55 million and 18,000 hotel rooms.

The effort is reflected in media coverage. New York's four major newspapers mentioned bids for the next Democratic convention a combined 15 times from June 4 to Dec. 4. Three of those mentions were in stories about the changing political landscape of the West.

In that time, The Denver Post alone published 42 articles or editorials mentioning the bid.

This difference has been fun to watch all year long. Check out these quotes from a post in October:

From Denver:
"The momentum is building every day, not only locally and regionally but nationally," said Denver City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth, president of the Denver 2008 Host Committee. "People are saying, 'Denver, Denver, Denver,' " she said.
Debbie Willhite, executive director of Denver's host committee, was on business Thursday in Washington, D.C., and said the buzz there about Denver is "extraordinarily positive. The stars are lining up because Denver has a strong bid and people want to come there," she said in a telephone interview.

New York responds in a written statement:
"New York City has a proven track record of hosting world-class mega events, and we look forward to working with the Democratic National Committee should they pick New York as their city."
And that low-key, understated statement from New York was one of the rare times all year that a spokesman from New York has said anything.


Anonymous said...

I hope we find out this coming week!

And I really do hope Denver wins!

Thank you Matt & Oreo :o)

Love said...

Do politicians ever work or do they just campaign?