Saturday, December 02, 2006

NY Times: New look for party drives Denver's bid

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

No new news, but the Times provides a good overview of Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic Convention:

In the competition between Denver and New York City to play host to the Democratic Party’s presidential nominating convention in 2008, Denver officials readily admit to being the new kids on the block. New York, they say, has advantages in fund-raising, experience in running national conventions and a track record of success for the Democrats.
But if Denver prevails this time — a decision is expected by the end of the year — party members from around the country say it will probably be by virtue of a polished and highly organized effort to turn the city’s lemons into lemonade. A new location, Denver’s convention-bid organizers have argued to the party hierarchy, is precisely what the Democrats need.

The Rocky Mountain West, they say, is competitive politically and could decide the next presidency, with ranks of disaffected Republicans ripe for the picking and resurgent Democrats ready to be mobilized.

New and newly empowered Democrats across the region, like Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who vaulted to majority leader with last month’s election, and Senator-elect Jon Tester of Montana, whose election helped swing the chamber, have been enlisted to cheer for Denver as well. A Western convention, they say, would bring recognition to a part of the country long taken for granted as the parties focused on the Midwest and the South.
And New York has some powerful allies, including both its Democratic senators, Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mrs. Clinton has said she favors the city because it is the best choice for the party and the economy of her state, not because it might be a nice place for a nomination. Technical issues, including transportation, security and the size of the hotels will weigh heavily on the decision too, and could come down in New York’s favor.

But party members across the country say that there is no doubt that Denver has hit on a potent combination of economic development goals and political ambition. A convention with 30,000 eating, drinking, hotel-room-using Democratic partiers and journalists would inject perhaps $160 million into the local economy, organizers say, and at the same time crown the city as an unquestioned capital of the interior West — and the two goals are in sync.

“A convention can provide a stage to introduce the nominee in a way that gets the country’s attention and tells a story,” said Debbie Willhite, a longtime Democratic strategist who came here earlier this year to run Denver’s bid as executive director. “And the networks can’t come in here without showing the broad plains and Rocky Mountains — that’s a very big stage.”

A spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, Karen Finney, said the final decision would be based on many factors. “Logistics, fund-raising, the political questions — these are all factors that go into the decision, all of which are important,” Ms. Finney said. “Our end goal is to have the best convention possible.”

Money is probably Denver’s biggest hurdle. Running a national political convention costs about $80 million, of which the host city must raise about $55 million. Denver bid officials believe they are close to that, including more than $12.5 million in cash and in-kind corporate donations just this week, and $5 million to $10 million more that Democratic governors in nearby states have said they could draw from local contributors.

Party members say that last month’s election probably bolstered Denver’s hopes by underscoring the political argument about a Western realignment and thus making it easier to raise money.

Democrats made gains in Montana, in Mr. Tester’s election, and here in Colorado, where the election of Bill Ritter as governor put Democrats in charge of the executive and legislative branches of state government for the first time since 1960. The state’s junior senator, Ken Salazar, a Democrat who was elected in 2004, has also become a standard-bearer for Hispanic voters, especially in the Southwest.

Update: Jonathan Singer at MyDD comments on the Times article:
The results of November 7 largely confirm the sentiments of Sens. Salazar and Hart, with Democrats in the region picking up a Senate seat, three seats in the House and one more governorship, giving them a majority of the governor's mansions in the region. At the least, the last three elections have sewn the seeds of Democratic gains in the region in future presidential contests, at best turning the Mountain West into a key segment of the Democratic Party base. But just as voters in the region have reached out to the Democratic Party by electing Democrats both to state level and federal offices, so too should the Democratic Party reach out to voters in the region by holding their nominating convention in the heart of the region -- Denver.