Thursday, August 31, 2006

St. Paul is confident

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St. Paul thinks it and New York will be the final two cities in the running to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention due to Denver's union issues:

When Minnesota DFLers went to Boston for the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2004, they stayed at the Radisson Cambridge, a union hotel. "The labor movement has been a close partner with the Democratic Party since the New Deal and we should do everything we can to honor that," said John Stiles, a St. Paul DFLer who made the trip.

As it seeks to land the 2008 Democratic convention, the city of Denver is learning that history the hard way: Officials there now acknowledge the city's bid will fail unless Denver gets a union hotel, which might leave the Twin Cities and New York as the best bets to win the prize. "We feel like we're one step closer to securing a bid. When you narrow the field, our chances just went from 33 percent to 50 percent," Erin Dady, St. Paul's marketing director, said Tuesday. Andrew O'Leary, executive director of the Minnesota DFL Party, said: "Obviously, Minneapolis and St. Paul are great union towns."

Of the three finalists, Denver had been considered a frontrunner by many observers, largely because of Colorado's growing political importance in national politics. But Denver officials are now going public with criticisms that many national Democrats have murmured about since the bidding process began.
The issue became contentious earlier this year when the Denver Area Labor Federation distributed a resolution fighting the city's bid unless it got a union hotel. The dispute revolves around a lobbying effort to organize the new Hyatt Regency Denver.

O'Leary said Minnesota DFLers have been promoting the Twin Cities as a great place for a national convention because of its people, atmosphere, geography and status as a political swing state. In addition, he said the region's media market hits five states, including two other swing states: Wisconsin and Iowa.

He said the state DFL makes it a practice to do its business with unions: "It's not just union hotels. We try to use union resources in everything we do."
The Twin Cities unions are also optimistic:
The head of the Twin Cities hospitality workers union says she thinks labor issues raised by union leaders in Denver can’t be resolved in time to win a bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. “I think they’re not going to go there,” says Jaye Rykunyk, state director for UNITE HERE, the union that represents local hotel staff, waiters and other hospitality workers.
Anyway, Rykunyk says she’s been following developments in Colorado, albeit from a distance. Other than some Sky Chef workers at the airport, she said, her organization doesn’t have any real presence in Denver -- the problem that the Denver Area Labor Federation is reportedly making a stand on.

(Leslie Moody, the federation president, has not responded to any recent inquiries about a May letter regarding the union issue there. There was, however, reportedly a meeting that touched on the issue on Tuesday.)

But the union grapevine, Rykunyk told the Scoop today, has it that there have even been threats to picket the Democratic National Convention if it shows up uninvited by organized labor in Denver. And that would make for some extremely bad television, not to mention the, um, interesting debate regarding whether or not Democrats would cross a picket line on their way to endorse a presidential candidate.

“The people who say, ‘We’ve got two years to straighten this out,’ are dreaming,” Rykunyk told the Scoop this afternoon. “These events are planned years in advance. There’s so much setup, you have to jockey all this stuff around and you have 10 days or two weeks that are basically just taken off the books… You can’t risk that kind of business on a maybe.”

Rykunyk said that unions in the Twin Cities, including workers at 20 hotels, are ready and willing to play ball. “They are guaranteed there won’t be any labor problems,” she said of the Democrats. “And all the work they need can be done by union workers. We’ve got stage hands, carpenters, painters, electricians, you name it.
Remember, all these opinions are from Minnesota, and are therefore all biased. It's also interesting that Leslie Moody, president of the Denver Area Labor Federation, has been relatively quiet on the subject since she was last quoted in May. In May, she said:
"This is not, 'Don't even bother, throw Denver out the window. We want to see this convention encourage the city to take the wages and benefits of our lowest-paid workers more seriously."
She did issue a statement last week, saying:
"It is our hope that Denver will have more than one union hotel by the summer of 2008 when the convention is due to be held."
Given the hint above that there was a meeting on the subject earlier this week, I don't think we should assume that this issue can't be worked out to everone's satisfaction.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Final bids due September 5th

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The three cities hoping to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention have until September 5th to submit their "best offers":

Four senior Democratic Party officials returned to the Twin Cities last week, inquiring about the region's bus inventory and literally counting parking spaces outside St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, the venue party officials have said they'd like if they come to Minnesota.

"There are a couple of pieces to the puzzle yet, a couple of outstanding things yet to be resolved, but we're confident that we have a great shot at hosting at least one of these conventions," said Erin Dady, St. Paul's marketing director.

She said Minnesota organizers will mail a "best offer" to Democratic Party officials, probably on Friday, ahead of a Sept. 5 deadline for the paperwork.

Party spokesman Damien LaVera, a member of the initial delegation to the Twin Cities, said Monday a site selection delegation is making a standard follow-up visit to all three cities on the short list to host the 2008 gathering. The third candidate is New York City.

LaVera declined to characterize the questions put to Minnesota or any other organizers and also declined to discuss any deadline for responses. "We're asking all the cities to provide the last answers to various questions," LaVera said.

St. Paul looking to take advantage

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As Denver worries about union issues, St. Paul looks to take advantage:

The city once thought to be the front-runner for the 2008 Democratic National Convention may be flagging, and Minnesota organizers say they're more hopeful than ever they'll overtake Denver in the quest to host the gathering. Two of Colorado's top convention organizers publicly acknowledged over the weekend that the lack of unionized hotel workers in Denver could hurt its chances of landing the national Democratic gathering.
Unions have yet to organize a single hotel in Denver, although the convention doesn't open for another two years. ... By comparison, the labor group representing hotel workers in Minnesota, UNITE HERE, lists 13 organized hotels in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.
But follow-up responses and the fine print in the party's site inquiry could be the keys to the Democrats' 2008 site selection. The Democratic National Committee's request for proposals includes a provision that "unions of various jurisdictions will not engage in any work stoppage or similar action that would disrupt the convention" in return for the party's exclusive use of union labor "whenever available."

And although the Democrats did convene in Atlanta, a nonunion city, in 1988, the Denver Area Labor Federation said earlier this year it will oppose the city's 2008 bid unless it can successfully organize at least some of the city's hotel workers. The newly opened Hyatt Denver Convention Center Hotel seems to be a particular sticking point.

The 37-story, 1,100-room, publicly financed hotel would play a key role in a Colorado convention but has been buffeted by labor issues at a number of junctures since the project began in 2002.

Are the Democrats more concerned about work stoppages during the convention, or about the symbolism of having the convention in a nonunion city. I suppose it's both, but it would seem rather cynical if promises of no work stoppages would be enough to bypass this issue and put the convention in Denver.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hurricanes and conventions

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As we hit the one year anniversary of Katrina, and as we are almost exactly two years away from the 2008 Democratic and Republican Conventions, I wanted to revisit the question of whether the parties should hold their conventions in hurricane-prone cities.

When New Orleans was still a major contender for the Democratic convention, I claimed that the chances of a hurricane actually hitting a specific city during a convention was so low, that it was unfair to rule out New Orleans as a site for this reason. And it's not just New Orleans (which hosted the GOP in '88); it's also Miami, which has hosted multiple conventions, Tampa, in the running for the GOP in '08, and Houston, which hosted the GOP in '92. Unless you want to put a permanent hex on these cities' tourist industry every late summer/fall, it just wasn't fair.

Let's look at it another way. The Democrats were in San Francisco in 1984. In 1989, a major earthquake hit during the World Series. If the earthquake had happened 3 years before the convention, would the Democrats have been justified in going elsewhere? I don't think so.

Well, that's all well and good, but 24 hours ago, it looked like a hurricane was heading towards the west coast of Florida. (Luckily, the threat has lessened since then). Ohio blogger Psychobilly Democrat has been following the GOP site selection process because Cleveland is in the running, and he writes:

Just thinking out loud, but if I'm part of the committee deciding where to place the next GOP convention, I'm realizing that about 2 years to the day from now, the 2008 RNC Convention is slated to start.

I'm remembering that just a year ago, again almost to the day, Hurricane Katrina rumbled through the Gulf Coast and came ashore in Louisiana and Mississippi with 125mph winds, strong enough to earn Category 3 status.

I'm watching Tropical Storm Ernesto bearing down on Florida.

And I'm thinking: Tampa Bay isn't such a great choice, is it?
This is not good timing for Tampa's bid.

Harry Reid supporting Denver's bid

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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is supporting Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

After Nevada was awarded an early caucus spot in 2008, sandwiched between the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid told Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar that he would do whatever he could to help Denver land the party's national convention.
A quid pro quo for Salazar's support for the Nevada caucus? Looks that way, but it doesn't matter, as having Reid's support can only help Denver's bid.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Denver admits bid could be in trouble

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I asked last Monday, is Denver's union issue really an issue? Well, representatives of Denver's bid have answered the question. It is an issue:

Denver will probably lose its bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention unless the city gets a union hotel, leaders of the effort to bring the convention here have acknowledged. The pressure stems from a lobbying effort by a local union that has been trying to organize the new Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center. Its opposition to Denver's bid has caught on with delegates from strong union states.

"In my opinion, it would be extremely out of character" for the Democrats to choose a city without a union hotel, Debbie Willhite, a national Democratic insider and the executive director of Denver's bid, said Friday. The Democratic National Committee does not require organized labor as a rule. In 1972, for instance, the party held its convention in Atlanta without union hotels.

Well, first of all, the convention in Atlanta was held in 1988. Secondly, there were union hotels in Atlanta, just not many of them.

But the request for a proposal for the convention seeks an agreement between the host committee and labor - essentially to ensure there won't be a work stoppage. The Denver Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, distributed a resolution in May to fight Denver's bid unless the city gets a union hotel.

Democratic delegates from states with strong union presences say they're uneasy about staying in non-union hotels. "We simply cannot," said Vivian Guinan, comptroller of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.

Attention in Denver is focusing on the new, city-bonded Hyatt. A group called Unite Here is working to organize about 650 of its workers. Labor at the hotel remains unorganized, however, despite language approved by voters that management cannot oppose unionization.

"No one has ever been against them forming a union," said City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth, who is president of Denver's host committee and a member of the Denver Convention Center Hotel Authority Board. Denver Area Labor Federation president Leslie Moody could not be reached for comment Friday but issued a statement: "It is our hope that Denver will have more than one union hotel by the summer of 2008 when the convention is due to be held."

Denver is among three finalists - along with Minneapolis- St. Paul and New York - vying to host Democrats when they nominate their next presidential candidate. Denver has at times been considered the front runner because of perceptions that the Rocky Mountain West is politically in play.

But Willhite and Wedgeworth confirmed that they have been told by delegates that to win the bid, Denver needs at least one union hotel as a nod to labor. Both New York and Minneapolis have union hotels.

Willhite said she asked Democrats to give the city time to address the union concerns. She believes that if Denver shows progress toward organized hotel labor, the city could still have a good shot at the convention. "Really, we have two years to get this done," she said.

But Ilene Kamsler, president of the Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association, said if a union was needed, there would already be one. "I for the life of me don't understand why, if the employees don't want it, why the Democratic Party sees a need to impose that on the employees," Kamsler said.

Local labor groups have asked Mayor John Hickenlooper to back their efforts. The mayor, however, on Friday said that is not the city's role. "The city created a fair, unbiased opportunity for the union to talk directly to all the workers at the Hyatt," he said. "And right now we are waiting to hear what the workers decide."

I think what's happening here is that Willhite, who has extensive connections with the national Democratic party, realizes she needs to publicly apply some pressure to get at least one hotel unionzed, or Denver will not get the convention. Compare what Willhite said:
"In my opinion, it would be extremely out of character" for the Democrats to choose a city without a union hotel.
to what Wedgeworth said back in May:
"In terms of them using this as a vehicle to unionize the Hyatt, we don't feel that's appropriate," said Denver City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth, who is also a co-chairwoman of the host committee. "They need to do that on their own."
Do they have a point? Of course," Wedgeworth added. "But should we be the leverage for them to make that point? I don't think so."
Willhite clearly understands that this issue needs to be resolved. But she says, "
Really, we have two years to get this done." Given that the host city will be decided this fall, it might be more like two months.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Convention begins two years from today

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The 2008 Democratic National Convention will begin exactly two years from today. As the Wikipedia entry on the convention states:

Almost everything else about the 2008 Democratic National Convention is
uncertain: where it will be held, who will chair it, what its rules will be, who
its speakers will be, and, most importantly of all, who its nominee will be.
And while there are hundreds of blogs discussing the more important issue of who the nominee will be, I just want to thank the readers of the only blog focusing on the still important question of where the convention will be held. I appreciate all the comments and emails, and I'll try to keep things interesting here as we move into the final stretch of the competition.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Will Katie, Brian and Charlie skip the 2008 conventions?

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It's hard for me to believe that Katie Couric, Brian Williams or Charlie Gibson would pass at their first chance to anchor their respective program's from a political convention, but there are news reports that say otherwise:

As a handful of American cities vie for the honor of hosting the 2008 national political conventions, changes are under way that could further marginalize their value as tools to grab the country's attention and shape the final months of the presidential campaign. The key change could be a long-threatened boycott by the big TV network anchors, who might stay home. If the evening newscasts aren't anchored from the conventions, that would make it easier for the networks to scale back prime-time coverage of them even more.
Not that they need an excuse...

That would be one more step in the continual decline of what once were grand spectacles of raw political power and democracy at work.
But mostly, the conventions are a snore, one that more and more people tune out. That's put party officials in a downward spiral of their own making. They work ever harder to stage-manage the conventions to get the most pop they can out of limited TV coverage, but the inherent lack of drama leads to deeper cutbacks in TV network coverage every four years. In 2004, the major networks aired only one hour of live coverage a night.

Now comes the next step.
With the conventions back to back, at least some network officials have told party organizers they want both conventions in the same city. That would cut the cost of shipping all the TV equipment.

At a recent gathering of Democrats in Denver -- which is hoping to land the Democratic convention -- some party members buzzed that the TV pitch would lead to a Minnesota win, with one convention in St. Paul and the other in Minneapolis.

I wrote about this earlier this month, but both St. Paul/Minneapolis and New York are committed to withdrawing from the other party as soon as either party picks them.

The result?

"The networks might use it as an excuse not to send the anchors," said one network official, who asked not to be identified because it could be controversial. "They would stay in New York, and we would just send correspondents to the conventions."

The networks send their anchors all over the world. But they won't send them to the site of the acceptance speech of the next president of the United States? Not to mention that as soon as one goes, the others will have to go anyway to avoid getting destroyed by the news critics as not being interested in hard news. I just don't believe this will happen - at least in 2008.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

National Urban League president urges a New Orleans convention

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While his heart is in the right place, the National Urban League's president Marc Morial's call for the Democrats and Republicans to hold their 2008 convention in New Orleans is a bit of a publicity stunt at this point:

In spite of the fact that New Orleans officials in July withdrew their bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the president of the National Urban League on Wednesday urged both parties to hold their conventions in the city.

New Orleans on July 13 said it was too difficult to raise money to finance a national political convention. A spokesman for the city told Congressional Quarterly that city officials wanted to focus on rebuilding the city after Hurricane Katrina instead of spending time and money on a political convention.
National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said [the convention] could help rebuild New Orleans and that hosting one of the conventions there "will also demonstrate that the nation's political leaders are squarely and solidly committed to rebuilding."

In a letter sent Wednesday Morial urged DNC Chairman Howard Dean and RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman to consider New Orleans. Morial asked both political leaders to limit convention expenditures to 50 percent of the 2004 levels and contribute the rest to rebuilding the Gulf Coast.

"The GOP came to New York City's rescue in 2004. Why can't the political parties come to the aid of New Orleans, which was hit by a tragedy nearly as grave as 9/11 and as deserving of such grand gestures," Morial said.
Everything was OK until this statement. The GOP convention in 2004 did not come to rescue New York, it came to use New York as a prop in the GOP's politicization of 9/11. New York did not need any rescuing three years after 9/11, and certainly not from the GOP.
"Our political leaders need to put their rhetoric into real action. What better way to help the victims than to hold their conventions right in the midst of Katrina's Ground Zero," Morial said.
I think most people could think of lots of better ways to help victims of Katrina then holding a political convention 3 years later. If Morial was serious, he could have released this letter before New Orleans dropped out, when it was still relevant. But in any event, the leaders of New Orleans decided their time and resources were best spent elsewhere, and we should not ask them to revisit that decision.

For New York, it's about the money, not the politics

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New York is mercenary about its bid to host the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions:

Last week Mayor Bloomberg crossed party (and state) lines in favor of a much stronger allegiance: money.
the Mayor attended the Democratic National Committee’s annual summer meeting in Chicago, where he rubbed elbows with his former party’s brass and made a case for holding the 2008 Democratic National Convention in the Big Apple.
Bloomberg, however, seems colorblind when it comes to party (NYC is also on the short list to hold the RNC gala the same year). Rather than hoisting a candidate to the presidency, as NYC conventions did for both Carter and Clinton, Bloomberg sees only the financial boost. Along with plenty of protest and general bellyaching, the 2004 event reaped about $255 million.
Well I don't know about that $255 million, but the whole New York bid seem just seems mechanical. And yes St. Paul/Minneapolis has also bid for both conventions, but the attitude about the bids is different, not to mention, from the Democratic side, two Democratic mayors are pushing the bid for St. Paul.

Hat tip to the commentor below who referenced the above article.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Is Denver's union issue really an issue?

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I've been tracking the Denver union issue here, here and here, but, to be honest, it's really hard to judge whether this will be a significant problem for Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention. In recent history, the Democrats have never held their convention in a non-union city before - it's a main reason the Democrats have never held their convention in New Orleans. However, Dean's 50-state strategy clearly calls for Democrats to go into and contest areas that aren't traditionally Democratic, and if Dean wants the convention in the Mountain West in order to make an impact in that area, by definition he's going to have to hold the convention in a city whose hotels are, in general, not unionized.

If there are any readers out there who feel that they have a good insight into this issue, please comment on whether you think the lack of union hotels is or is not a significant problem for Denver's bid.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Money now becomes the issue - or does it?

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The site visits are over, the receptions are over. None of the three finalists have any show-stoppers when it comes to facilities, and two of the cities have a great political advantage - they're not New York. The Denver Post headlines an article today saying money is the issue; but reading more closely, the picture is less clear:

The three cities vying to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention will have to show fundraising commitments as the national officials look to narrow their choice to two next month. Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul and New York have proved they can meet the basic logistical needs to host more than 30,000 delegates when they nominate the party's next presidential candidate. But whichever city is chosen will have to raise tens of millions of dollars.

As the three cities entertained the Democratic National Committee delegates at the Hilton Chicago this weekend, they heard from national officials that it is time to prove their fundraising muster. "It's really no surprise," said Chris Gates, a co-chair of Denver's host committee. He said now that the Democrats have evaluated each city for its facilities, it only makes sense to verify financing.

So money is the issue?

Questions about New York's fundraising abilities were answered about as quickly as "Sopranos" star Lorraine Bracco introduced billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the city's reception Thursday. "He's smart. He's good-looking. He's rich," Bracco said.

But Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul have turned to regional support, banking on the Mountain West or the Midwest, respectively. "This is truly about bringing this convention to the West, not just Denver," host committee vice-chair Dan Slater told Western representatives Friday. And Montana Democratic Party vice chair Tracy Velazquez said, "Unless the National Democrats come out West in 2008, we are never going to win."

Minneapolis-St. Paul's bid is cut from the same mold. Where Denver is selling the Mountain West, Minneapolis-St. Paul is pitching the states along the Mississippi River. "It's time for the Democratic Party to control the heartland of this country," Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak told delegates Friday. "You win the Mississippi River, you win the presidency."

Strange quotes here, as they address political support, not money support.
The final decision is ultimately Howard Dean's. The national party chair did not attend any of the functions the three cities hosted, but he met privately with representatives. "He's keeping his cards close to his vest," said Denver City Councilwoman and host committee president Elbra Wedgeworth. "He's saying that it is going to come down to a technical decision."
So money is not the issue, technical logistics are? As DenverDan implied in the comments, a technical decision could cover lots of things, including logistics, money, politics.
Wedgeworth said the Democratic National Committee will narrow the field to two in September. For Denver, that means proving it can raise more than $70 million - including federal grants for security. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper told delegates that "we are going to need your help."

Hickenlooper has pledged not to spend public dollars on Denver's bid, and he has already asked other Mountain West states to help raise money.

Dean says its a "technical decision", and the cities were told to get their money story in order. Unfortunately, money is the one topic that will be hardest to get any information on, so it may be a guessing game for a bit.

Denver throws a party

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Well, at least a breakfast. Dan Slater from Denver's Host Committee likes what his city did:

The day began with a nice breakfast for the DNC members sponsored by the Denver 2008 Host Committee. Chair Pat Waak, Denver 2008 E.D. Debbie Willhite, Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth, and Mayor John Hickenlooper all addressed the group. Members enjoyed Denver Omelettes, Bloody Marys and “Mile-High Mimosas”, as well as more traditional breakfast favorites, all to a John Denver soundtrack.

I was a bit worried that the DNC Members might be disappointed in the lack of “flash” in the breakfast that was found in the New York and Minneapolis events the previous couple of nights. However, I spoke with many, and heard that they really appreciated the lower-key, more relaxed feel of the Denver event.
The parties are over. Things get serious from here until the decision.

Minnesota thows a party

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St. Paul/Minneapolis hosted their reception Friday night at the DNC meeting in Chicago:

Maybe the wild rice was out of season, or the lutefisk would have been too confusing for fish lovers. But the end result was that there wasn't much that felt very Minnesotan at a party thrown Friday evening for members of the Democratic National Committee gathered in Chicago. Still, the drinks were free and they were flowing generously on the second floor lobby of the Hilton Chicago.

As Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver and New York City lobby for the honor to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the food and party favors matter this weekend. The non-Minnesotan buffet perhaps simply reflected the confidence of the Twin Cities in winning at least one national convention, considering that they are also in the running for the Republican National Convention.
As DNC members left the Minnesota party for a night on the town, they were given a gift bag. Inside was at least one Minnesota classic: a hockey puck.

DemNotes has a picture of what was in the gift bag. Not much there beyond the hockey puck...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

DNC to annouce two finalists next month

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According to a well-placed source, the DNC has told the bid committees that they will announce two finalists next month, and then enter into even more serious negotiations with each city.

This can only mean one thing: this will soon be a two city race to host the convention, and the two cities will be Denver and St. Paul.

Update: This is now publically confirmed in today's Denver Post:

Denver City Councilwoman and host committee president Elbra Wedgeworth said the Democratic National Committee will narrow the field to two in September.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Democrats moving up decision time-table?

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For those who didn't see it in the updated post below, from the Times today:

A decision from the Democrats could come next month, officials said.
Totally unconfirmed, of course, but I wonder if the Democrats want to keep their options also, and not lose St. Paul to the GOP. And therefore an early decision could be an indication of bad news for Denver.

But unless I see some confirming news, I would discount this. The GOP is just starting their site visits now, and I would think it unlikely they would come to a quick decision. Also, any decision before the mid-terms could lower enthusiasm in the losing areas, which all have critical races going on. I'm going to assume the decision will still come in November.

New York throws a party

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Three reports on New York's reception at the summer meeting of the DNC to promote its bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention. From the NY Times:

There were the themed drinks: Manhattans and electric-green Big Apple martinis. There was a celebrity: Lorraine Bracco, bringing a whiff of glamour in a slim white suit. And there were the cheesy one-liners from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who had orchestrated a reception here for delegates at a Democratic Party
“I haven’t been in the company of such a large group of passionate, dedicated Democrats since I was one,” he added, to laughter, good-natured grumbling and cries of “Come back” and “Welcome home.”

Both Mr. Bloomberg and the idea of New York holding the Democratic National Convention were warmly received by many of the Democrats gathered in the wood-paneled room in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. “We don’t hold the fact that he’s a Republican against him,” Mark Brewer, the chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said, laughing. “It’s a great convention city.”
Still, some Democrats expressed frustration with Mr. Bloomberg’s party affiliation, which they said was out of step with his political views. After Mr. Bloomberg joked that he did not have a psychiatrist (Ms. Bracco plays one on television) but that his children probably think he needs one, a man shouted, “You do, for being a Republican.”

Ray Buckley, chairman of the eastern region of the Democratic National Committee, said that although he did not think it would hurt the city’s chance of landing the convention, many Democrats were still upset by his party switch.
Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, New York City’s ranking Democrat, accompanied the mayor for his pitch, the essence of which was that the force of the city would help their candidate’s chances. Mr. Bloomberg pointed out that both Democrats nominated in New York in recent years, Mr. Clinton and Jimmy Carter, had gone on to become president.

Well, 2 out of 3, as Carter lost in 1980 after a New York Convention. (Carter in '76 and Clinton in '92 both won coming out of New York).

“We won’t pick your candidate, but with the energy of our city we will make your candidate better,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “We won’t craft your message, but with New York as a backdrop we will make your message better.”
A decision from the Democrats could come next month, officials said.

Next month? November had been the month of decision...

From the AP:
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican, was downright cozy with Democratic National Committee big wigs Thursday night.
Bloomberg traveled to Chicago during the DNC's summer meeting here to pitch New York as the site of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. You'd think Bloomberg, a former Democrat who is now serving his second term as New York's mayor, wanted Democrats to win the White House.

"We would be honored to host this assembly," he told a crowd of DNC members at a wine, beer and "Big Apple" martinis party thrown by the New York City Host Committee 2008 in Chicago's Millennium Park. "With the energy of our city, we will make your candidate better."
The idea of a New York convention appealed to many, particularly those who recalled conventions in the city that catapulted Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton to the presidency. Others weren't so sure.

Waring S. Howe Jr., a South Carolina DNC member, said Democrats should choose a city in a state that could tip the balance in favor of a Democratic presidential candidate. "We shouldn't have to have the convention in New York to win the state," Howe said. "A state that might be trending the other way would be more helpful."

That didn't keep Bloomberg from pitching. "I haven't been in the company of such a large group of passionate, dedicated Democrats," he said, "since I was one."

Dan Slater, a Vice-Chair of Denver's bid, provides his take:
Thursday night, we were taken to Millennium Park, not too far away, by the New York City 2008 committee. The ride over there was quite nice; they took us in double-decker buses. When we got there, we were led through some back hallways to a nice room, abeit crowded, with a very “New York” feel. Cosmopolitans and Manhattans were offered to everybody as they arrived, along with a “Big Apple Martini”. After a while, the “celebrities” arrived. Lorraine Bracco, who is an actress best known for her role on the Sopranos, began the evening, and then introduced the Governor of Illinois. Gov. Blagojevich made the biggest news of the night, being a midwestern governor who was not endorsing the “midwestern” bid city of Minneapolis. He endorsed New York and introduced Mayor Bloomberg of New York City. The Mayor spoke for a while, told some corny jokes, and that was it.

It was a nice evening, but I think the consensus of folks I spoke to was that it wasn’t nearly as energetic as the Denver 2008 event in New Orleans a few months ago.

St. Paul/Minneapolis holds their reception tonight, and Denver goes Saturday morning.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Convention receptions at DNC meeting in Chicago

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The DNC is holding their summer meeting in Chicago this weekend, and each of the cities are hosting receptions:

New York: This evening (Thursday)
Minneapolis/St. Paul: Tomorrow evening
Denver: Saturday morning

Details for the New York party:

[Republican] Mayor Bloomberg and the speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn ... will speak at a cocktail reception in Chicago's Millennium Park and will be joined by Soprano's star Lorraine Bracco.

The host committee is chartering a double-decker bus to bring the delegates — who are in the Windy City for an annual summer meeting — to the reception. The bar will serve Cosmopolitans, Manhattans, and "Big Apple" Martinis.

NY spokesman Stu Loeser says: "The mayor is the city's No. 1 salesman, so it's well worth his time to go out there."

Oh yeah, the DNC is also going to be discussing something about primary schedules, but readers of this blog know that the convention receptions are where the action is...

The politics of picking a convention site

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CQPolitics examines the politics that play into picking a host city for the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

Picking a host city two years in advance of the 2008 presidential nominating conventions — a process in which both major parties are currently engaged — implies thinking ahead.

And that extends to considering the political backdrop that the host city would provide for a convention, said Brandon Rottinghaus, assistant professor of political science at University of Idaho. “Presidential politics is about the future, with the rhetoric about moving on and the next step,” said Rottinghaus, who studies the presidency and the presidential election process.
Sizing up the politics of the pick, Rottinghaus called Denver the “smart play” for the Democrats. Though the Mountain West region has strongly favored Republican presidential candidates in recent elections, Democrats and some independent analysts view demographic changes — including the growth in the Democratic-leaning Hispanic population — as providing greater opportunities for the Democrats to compete.

Specifically, Rottinghaus said the atmospherics of a Denver convention could help the Democrats pick up three states, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, in which they heavily competed in 2004, but where party nominee John Kerry ultimately lost to President Bush.“The growth of the Sunbelt — that’s where the voters are,” Rottinghaus said.

Denver boosters have integrated this concept into their pitch to the Democrats. “It’s a regional bid,” said Bill Mitchell, government affairs director at the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors bureau. “There’s a significant groundswell of support from the 13 Western states.” Mitchell added, “By choosing Denver, any party would show they’re willing to move the needle internally and think outside the box,” he said. “It would send a signal that the Democratic Party is trying to do something different.”

As I've been saying for a while.

Rottinghaus suggested that the Democrats have less to gain politically if they were to choose New York City. The city already is one of the party’s premier presidential voting strongholds, regularly giving its nominees 70 percent or more of its votes. And the Democrats might appear as though they were mimicking the Republicans, who went against type by choosing that city for the 2004 convention at which Bush was nominated for a second term.

I don't think the Democrats care that the GOP was there in 2004, but it's very clear that politically New York does absolutely nothing for the Democrats.

Rottinghaus said the viability of the bid by the Minnesota metropolis to hold the Democratic convention may hinge on the state’s key congressional races this fall: the open-seat contest for the Senate seat left open by retiring Democrat Mark Dayton, and the 6th Congressional District contest for the seat Republican Mark Kennedy left open to run for the Senate. Both races are rated by as tossups.

Rottinghaus said victories in both these elections — but only both — could enable state Democrats to pitch that they are successfully staving off a Republican effort to gain the upper hand in the politically competitive state. “The Democrats might say, ‘We’re hoping to reconnect with the voters who have turned away from us, so we’ll go to a state that’s been traditionally Democratic but has been more Republican over the last few years,’” Rottinghaus said.

I've seen similar things said about the Denver bid. But with a nationalized election coming up, its' hard to believe that the outcome of a specific race or two will have any real effect.

Rottinghaus believes Tampa-St. Petersburg or Cleveland are the best choices for the GOP.

Paul Eisenberg, editorial director at Fodor’s Travel, said logistics are most important because a convention can utterly change the complexion of the city it is being held in. New York City, because of its size and its longstanding facility for handling massive numbers of visitors, “has the best chance of absorbing that,” Eisenberg said.

New York, in fact, has hosted four national conventions in the past 30 years — the Democrats in 1976, 1980 and 1992 and the Republicans in 2004, all at Madison Square Garden — and is the city that is by far most familiar with the process. “New York City has proven time and again that we can execute complex, large-scale events flawlessly,” said Kevin Sheekey, the city’s deputy mayor for government affairs, in an e-mailed statement. “We have no doubt that we can raise the funds necessary to assist either party with expenses and ensure a successful event leading into the final weeks before Election Day.”

But Eisenberg said Denver is a manageable city that has the bonus of being close to the natural wonders of the Rocky Mountains, making it another feasible choice. Minneapolis-St. Paul has a quainter feel than all the other cities, Eisenberg said, and would be an interesting destination for the high-profile conventions. But, he added, the cities’ tourist infrastructure might have a hard time handling an invasion of 25,000 or so outsiders. “They’ll have the most difficult time absorbing the increase in population,” he said. “It doesn’t spring to mind as an obvious choice.”

Lots of interesting points, but in the end, it still leaves us with Denver and St. Paul as the front-runners.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rocky Mountain News compares the 3 cities

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The Rocky Mountain News has a brief comparison of the 3 cities that are vying to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

The Mile High City is banking on the growing awareness of the Mountain West's election-swinging clout. Twin Cities boosters say the anointed 2008 running mates would have the perfect location to launch the campaign in Minneapolis-St. Paul, pushing off on a riverboat down the Mississippi River to "campaign through the heartland of America." And New Yorkers say that the time-tested Big Apple has hosted more political conventions than any of the competitors and is confident it can handle both party conventions in '08.
A couple of highlights from the comparison graphic:
Hotel Rooms: Denver: 38,000; St. Paul/Mnpls: 35,000; New York: 71,000

Climate downsides:
  • Denver: The thin air can trigger altitude sickness
  • St. Paul: Pack the bug spray. The mosquito is the state bird.
  • New York: Brutally hot, humid and smelly
As a former New Yorker, I will only add that New York is not always hot and humid in August...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

DNC visits Denver again - update

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Members of the Democratic National Comittee's Technical Advisory Group revisited Denver today to take a second look:

"I think it's very good that they are coming back out," said Debbie Willhite, executive director of Denver's host committee.
It will also be a chance for Denver's host committee to showcase some new staff. Willhite, a longtime event organizer with national Democratic connections, was recently hired as executive director. "I've been on site selection in the past," Willhite said. "Once you get down to the real cities that are in contention, you want to check things out as thoroughly as you can."

And from the Rocky Mountain News:
The small group, which arrived Wednesday, will revisit the Pepsi Center and meet with Denver boosters trying to trump New York and Minneapolis-St. Paul for the Democratic National Convention.

"It's like getting a second date," said Debbie Willhite, who has helped the DNC select a convention site in the past and is now executive director of the Denver 2008 Host Committee.

"When you're starting to get down to just a couple of sites and you're going to be making recommendations to the decision-makers, you want to be as precise about what the differences are," she said. "I think it is a very, very good sign that they're coming back out, and we're very excited to have them here."

Willhite added that she's heard that Denver, which hosted its only national political convention in 1908, is among the top two cities being eyed for the convention. "I'm fairly certain from what I hear on the proverbial grapevine that (the other city is) Minneapolis-St. Paul," she said.

I think it's clear that New York is running a distant third at this point. Dean is 50-state kind of guy, and New York just brings nothing politically to the image the Democrats want in 2008. And the facilities aren't so great. Madison Square Garden is getting old, and there's no good adjacent workspace for the media. Unless New York overwhelms the DNC with money, its hard to see how New York gets the bid over Denver or St. Paul.

There will also be followup visits in the other cities.

Update: The Denver Post has a followup:

Denver has told national Democrats they can count on close to 19,000 hotel rooms if they choose the city for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau president and chief executive Richard Scharf confirmed Thursday that local hotels have committed more hotel rooms than the 17,000 the Democrats are looking for.

"I think that is going to be a far superior offer than what any other city is going to be able to offer," Scharf said.

I think New York might debate that statement, but if you have enough hotel rooms, it doesn't matter how many more you have.

He added, "I can tell you right now if the Democratic convention does not come to Denver in 2008, it will not be because of the hotel rooms." While local officials have always expressed confidence in the area's ability to deliver the needed hotels, the commitments do a great deal to end skepticism in the metro area's capacity.

The confirmation comes as Democrats on the convention selection committee were in town for a second visit to Denver. Denver's host committee president and City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth said "this was a more casual trip" than the last visit in June. "They spent most of their time at the Pepsi Center today," she said.

And from DemNotes:
This second site visit was not by all of the ten-member DNC Technical Committee; instead, only four of the members of the committee came out. They asked that we keep this visit much more low-key than the last one, and instead wanted to spend much more time going over the details of the bid with a fine-toothed comb. With that in mind, their only full day here, Thursday, was dominated by meetings with the key folks from the Host Committee on a wide variety of issues. Most of the meetings were either in the new downtown Hyatt, or at the Pepsi Center.
The attendees were treated to a talk by author / historian and professor Patty Limerick, who gave a great presentation on how the history of the West and of Colorado helps make the case for Denver in 2008.
And she wasn’t afraid to take a few shots at the humidity of the other remaining contenders: “Wilted people do not display spirit and hope.”
Limerick’s talk concluded with a note that “America the Beautiful” was written because of Colorado. The lyrics, she said, are the lyrics of a Democratic Convention in Denver.
Since I was unable to attend the first site visit, this was my first chance to really sit down and chat with some of the Technical Committee members. I came away impressed by their commitment to this job, and the detail to which they are paying attention to our bids. I also came away a little disturbed to hear that at least a couple of them monitor DemNotes to see what is going on with the bid. Oh, well; there’s no accounting for taste.
Gee, and I thought they monitored 2008 Democratic Convention Watch! Well, better to monitor a blog by someone who actually knows whats going on.....
Our next step in the Convention process is the full DNC meeting next week in Chicago. ... the week will be filled with receptions, dinners, and parties by each of the three cities who are bidding for the convention. New York will kick it off with a reception on Thursday night; Minneapolis - St. Paul will hold their reception (along with other receptions hosted by other DNC groups) on Friday night; and Denver will cap it off with a breakfast for DNC Members on Saturday morning, just prior to the actual DNC meeting.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Is Denver still the frontrunner?

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I've been tracking the union issues with Denver's bid for the 2008 Democratic Convention, and Colorado Confidential is reporting that Denver's chances to host the convention have been affected:

The political “buzz” about the location of the Democratic National Convention has Denver slipping into second behind St Paul/Minneapolis because of Union problems and lack of facilities, according to sources within the national party circle. They acknowledged that Denver Mayor Hickenlooper is working on the labor problems, but with the DNC decision expected in November, will he have enough time to solve the problems?

New York is another city vying for the convention, but Democratic Leadership Council members in Denver last month claimed New York is definitely "out."

The union issues are known, but it's not clear to me what "lack of facilities" refers to, unless it's referring to the lack of adjacent media workspace, which should not be a show-stopper for Denver's bid. It would be great if the Denver supporters give us their thoughts on these issues in the comments.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Could both conventions be held in Minnesota in different venues?

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An interesting option has come up: Could the Democrats and Republicans hold their conventions in back-to-back weeks in different venues in Minneapolis/St. Paul? The Democrats have already decided to hold their convention at the St. Paul Xcel Energy Center. I've been assuming the two conventions could not be held in the same city, as there's no way for the two events to share a venue - different requirements, cost sharing issues, not to mention the venue looks pretty trashed after the convention is over.

But could the GOP go to the Target Center or Metrodome the following week? I don't see why not. The Minneapolis venues are obviously not near the St. Paul venue, so the whole construction/logistics/security thing is not an issue.

The biggest issue would be hotel rooms, but I bet it could be worked around. Very few of the political people stay at a convention past Friday, and most of the political people coming to a convention would arrive Friday through Sunday before the convention starts, so if you reserve one nice hotel for the GOP before and while the Democrats are in town, you could make it work. As for the media, let the city or a neutral organization handle their housing, and they could just stay in the same hotel rooms for both conventions. I don't think the parties would be happy about it, but it could probably work.

GOP buzz: Minnesota

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Some buzz from the other side:

A New York Republican who’s attending the Republican National Committee summer meeting in Minneapolis, Minn. called in to say the current buzz is that Midwestern city has an edge over New York, Cleveland and Tampa for the party’s 2008 convention.
And if the GOP really wanted Minneapolis/St. Paul, I'm sure they would move up their announcement, which would remove the cities from consideration to host the 2008 Democratic Convention.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

St. Paul Xcel Energy Center

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Minneapolis/St. Paul is proposing that the 2008 Democratic National Convention take place at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center.

The Xcel Center opened in 2000, the NHL's Minnesota Wild, other teams, and the usual arena events. The building seats 18,000-19,000, depending on configuration, and 74 luxury boxes.
The building totals about 650,000 square feet of building space.

A diagram of the Xcel Center and the surrounding area is at left. Note that unlike Denver's Pepsi Center, the Xcel Center is mostly surrounded by buildings. This is good and bad. The good is that a convention center, the St. Paul RiverCentre, is right next door, offering great workspace for the media and convention needs. Also next door is the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, which also provides good workspace. The bad is that it makes the area more congested, and the convention has a large effect on nearby locations.

Another issue is that the main convention hotel will be in Minneapolis which will present some transportation difficulties, but nothing insurmountable.

I will update this entry as more information is found. Please comment or email any updates.

Previous overviews: Denver Pepsi Center

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

More Denver DLC meeting convention news

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Some notes from Colorado Confidential on the DLC meeting meeting in Denver last week.

“The weather’s great,” chimed Mike O’Conner, former Deputy Mayor of Indianapolis. “It’d be fine with me to have the convention in Denver to get out of the humid Midwest.”

Before we uncork the champagne, Mark Ivrey of the Brookings Institution put Denver’s chances into perspective. “Emotional responses, the weather and the scenery do not count into the decision to have the Democratic convention here,” the policy professional said. “It all has to do with media coverage, prime time TV, polling, Democratic strategy—and those other guys,” referring to the Republicans. “There will be a lot of things in play to determine the convention location,” asserted Ivery.

One of those items may be how successful Colorado Democrats are 2006, House Speaker Andrew Romanoff noted.

Denver may offer the background of majestic mountains and a promise of a Democratic stronghold in the West, but the decision to make this city the Democratic National Convention site could all boil down to a simple detail: when the East and West Coast voters sit down to watch TV.

Decent article, until the last two paragraphs. First, unless the bottom falls out of only the Colorado Democratic party in November, whether a couple of races are lost will have no effect on the choice.

Also, the time zone of the convention is totally irrelevant to the choice. The nominee will be starting his speech a few minutes after 10 Eastern time, regardless of whether his local time is 10 (New York), 9 (Minnesota), or 8 (Denver). In fact, I think the parties like having the convention out west. They can finish earlier in the evening, allowing for events/receptions/fundraisers after each evening's proceedings.