Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The waiting game

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at http://www.DemocraticConventionWatch.com

The Rocky Mountain News summarizes where we are:

Denver boosters are buzzing with anticipation as a decision on whether the city will win the 2008 Democratic National Convention is expected this week. The bids have been filed and the two finalists, Denver and New York City, are fine-tuning their master contracts, which must be approved before the Democrats' presidential nomination bash is awarded.

Democratic National Committee officials met with city leaders in the Big Apple on Monday to negotiate draft contract language - just as they did with Denver officials last week - according to a DNC official who spoke on the condition he not be named.

Ultimately, DNC Chairman Howard Dean will choose between Denver and New York after reviewing reports by the party's convention assessment panel.

"The chairman, who is very detail- oriented, has stayed abreast of information as it's developed," said Denver 2008 Host Committee Executive Director Debbie Willhite as she and three colleagues kept polishing contract details at their 12th-story downtown Denver office Monday. "So, I don't think he'll have to go over that much more information."

Despite the pins-and-needles waiting, Denver backers remained confident that they've done everything possible in their David-vs.-Goliath battle with New York, which has held six national conventions. Denver's lone previous convention was the 1908 Democratic Party gathering that nominated William Jennings Bryan.

"This has been very intense. There has been a lot of preparation," said Willhite, perched at her desk in front of a "Whiners" sign with a red slash through it. "We have fulfilled every criteria, we've met every deadline and we have proven that Denver has the capacity and the enthusiasm and the leadership to do this."

While New York has been less public in lobbying the DNC than Denver, Willhite said, "I'm sure both senators (Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chuck Schumer) and the governor-elect (Eliot Spitzer) are all weighing in."

Willhite, a veteran Democratic strategist who helped run presidential candidate Bill Clinton's successful bid at the 1992 New York convention, said at that time "it was important to show the country that an Arkansas governor could command Madison Square Garden in the city of New York."

But given the recent wave of Democratic election victories in Colorado and the West, Willhite said, a Denver convention would send a powerful "message of where the party's growing and going" in the battle to reclaim the American heartland.

That last comment about Bill Clinton and New York doesn't quite ring true, given that New York was chosen when Clinton was just one of the "seven dwarfs". And I still think that Hillary Clinton is smart enough not to lobby too heavily for New York.

CBS4 in Denver adds:
If Denver loses the bid, many observers said to just follow the money. "It will be a signal that maybe Denver has not quite yet arrived and that the money offers, the monetary offers to the party out of New York were just too compelling," said Eric Sondermann, political analyst.

The Host Committee also sees the state's Mountain Time zone as an advantage to deadline-weary reporters who would come along with a projected $150 million in convention business. "By 11:00 Prime Time in the east, its 9 here," Willhite said. "Media gets to go out to dinner, they get to socialize, and they loved it in L.A. for that reason."
It's been clear for a while that money is Denver's biggest obstacle, although New York supposedly had money problems itself. And even though the time difference really makes no difference to the DNC, if the convention goes to Denver, the media should be happy. (And as I noted in September and way back in February, the media will be cranky when they get to St. Paul on Labor Day).


Anonymous said...

Well, if Denver doesn't get the bid, that won't mean to me that the city hasn't arrived. Rather, it'll just show how short sighted and biased many people are about the city. It's a constant attitude thing that the West has to deal with coming from Easterners. We've already hosted a number of international/national events.

I do feel, however, that local politicians just aren't as savvy as their counterparts around the country. It's disappointing to see the city/state lose out in competitions against other cities. We should have landed the United maintenance facility. In retrospect, the baseball team was a good land, but that almost didn't happen, and many Eastern folks just didn't see it as possible. The success of the baseball franchise led to a reevaluation of Denver as a location for other sports franchises.