Monday, January 01, 2007

How we got here

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

There have been a lot of new readers since this blog started over a year ago, so here's a summary of how we got to two cities, Denver and New York, both vying to be the host of the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

I started the blog on November 7, 2005, just after DNC Chairman Howard Dean announced that the convention would be held Aug 25-28, 2008, just after the Summer Olympics, which was a great date both for both financial and political reasons, and eventually forced the GOP to start their convention on Labor Day. New Orleans was the first city openly discussed, but Denver, as they have all year, was first in expressing interest, forming a Host Committee, and accepting an invitation to bid for the convention. But even by late November, 2005, questions about Denver's labor issues began to surface. By mid-December, 35 cities were invited to bid to host the convention.

Although other cities such as Anchorage were proposed, the real players soon emerged. First to accept a bid were Denver and Orlando, soon followed by
Anaheim, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York City, Phoenix and San Antonio, with Denver, New Orleans and New York considered the front-runners, although the netroots supported Denver and New Orleans. Some cities started slowly: Detroit couldn't agree whether it had accepted the bid, Dallas was more concerned about the Mary Kay convention, and San Antonio was worried about feasibility and costs. By mid-April, Orlando was expressing concerns about the cost. Phoenix was the first to drop out, and Orlando and San Antonio soon followed.

The DNC held their spring meeting in April in New Orleans, which brought front and center the good and bad about having the convention there, and where the general feeling was that Denver had the bid all locked up, although the first signs of problems from local Denver union officials began to surface. Anaheim dropped out in early May, soon followed by Dallas, and then, surprisingly, Detroit, thought to have a good chance to host the convention, and finally Las Vegas, which realized it could make more money with their normal convention schedule than with a political convention. This left four cities which were reported to have made bids to host the convention: Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans and New York.

Or maybe not. Questions about whether New Orleans really made a bid started to surface, as no site visit had been scheduled, and in mid-July, it was official - New Orleans dropped out,
saying the cost of holding the event after Hurricane Katrina last year was too massive. This was a controversial decision, with some feeling the DNC should have lessened the financial requirements for New Orleans due to its special situation.

In June, the Site Selection Committee started its visits, visiting New York, Denver
and Minneapolis/St. Paul. July saw Denver trying to raise money from other states, the DNC focusing on the St. Paul Xcel Center for the Twin Cities bid, and Denver hiring a "heavy hitter" to run its bid. August started quiet, although Denver, New York and St. Paul all hosted receptions at the summer DNC meeting. But by the end of the summer, money and labor issues were impacting Denver's bid.

Denver's efforts bottomed out in early September, when its bid was called "disastrous". But the bid improved, and when the GOP preemptively chose St. Paul as the site of their convention, Denver was a contender again, Then Denver's Convention Headquarters Hotel was unionized, which was considered a "huge deal".

Denver's roll continued with reports that New York was having problems raising money, and then Democrats won the Governor's race in Colorado. And while Dean expressed concern about Denver's ability to raise money, Denver seemed to answer those concerns.

Denver was confident that would get the nod in a early December decision, but New York made a last-minute push, and by mid-December it was 50-50, with a decision considered imminent. But then a Denver union leader refused to sign a no-strike pledge, New York had more issues raising money, and finally the DNC announced they were delaying a decision until January.

So where does that leave us? With the following questions:

Where does Hillary Clinton really want the convention?
Where does New York mayor Mike Bloomberg really want the convention?
Where does Denver's
Local No. 7 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees really want the convention?
And finally, the only question that really matters, where does DNC Chairman Howard Dean really want the convention?


Anonymous said...

To sum it up, every single city considered as convention host other than Denver and NYC has been eliminated because they voluntarily withdrew their names from consideration (or in the case of St. Paul, they got the other convention). Perhaps the plan now is to wait for one of the two remaining cities to withdraw and award the last remaining city the big party by default. What if NO ONE wants to host the Dems in 2012?

Matt said...

The question about 2012 is actually quite serious. With the increased costs due to security, it's not such an economic win to host a convention. I imagine the DNC will have to ask for less money in the future, and do some of the fundraising at the national level.

Anonymous said...

I don't think 2012 is that risky... Denver would be the smallest city to get the convention in 50 years. I'm guessing that other invitees declined the convention because they didn't want to spend the time and money when they assumed they wouldn't be competitive anyway. When other mid-sized cities like Seattle see that it's posible for a mid-sized city to be competitive, they'll step in.


Leslie Robinson said...

Howdy, Matt. This is a great rundown on the history so far of the 2008 Democratic Convention. Hope you don't mind a plug on Should we run a contest on when Dean will make the announcement? (It's obvious he's waiting for Denver to get local labor on board.)

An interesting trivia item: Colorado no long holds special presidential primaries. The Republican legislature back in 2003 eliminated the financing of future primaries that used to be held in March. Colorado does have a caucus presidential selection, but that is in June, way after the presidential candidates have been selected by the other states.

Again, good work!

Matt said...


Thanks. I don't have the infrastructure to run a poll, but go ahead, and I will link to it. Kerri's done a great job on the past histories - I've got them linked on my sidebar.