Friday, December 29, 2006

Denver making progress with union

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Denver is making progress in resolving the labor issues that are hampering its bid to host the 2008 Democratic Convention, although the weather is delaying things:

The blizzard that struck Denver Thursday may delay negotiations that are crucial to Denver's hopes of winning the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Denver's bid has been held up by the refusal of the local stagehands union to pledge not to strike or picket during the convention. The union, Local No. 7 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, has objected to working in the nonunion Pepsi Center. DNC rules require unions to sign off before Denver can win the convention.

Debbie Willhite, executive director of the Denver 2008 Host Committee, said progress had been made in reaching a deal with the union, but said the blizzard might prevent an agreement this week.

If a deal is reached, that could cinch the convention for Denver.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Should Hillary go for the Macy's walk again?

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

There's a great comment over at Room Eight on a post on why New York's political leaders aren't pushing hard for the convention. The main post is good, covering ground I've already discussed, but I love the comment the poster added:

You can see why Hillary might want it here, even if she's reluctant to cheer too hard for nyc to get it. Remember that night in 1992 when Bill Clinton went to the Garden to make his big appearance, and he, Hillary and young Chelsea walked hand in hand through the closed lower level of Macy's to get to the Garden. It was a great visual. You think they wouldn't like to relive that scene fourteen years later? Bill, Hillary and the now grown Chelsea walking hand in hand through Macy's to the Garden, as Fleetwood Mac plays "don't stop thinking about tomorrow" Then they arrive across the street from the Garden, Bill and Chelsea kiss Hillary and she leaves them and walks alone into the Garden and onto the stage to accept the nomination. Deja vu all over again.
I was on the floor of the Garden when the Clinton's did their televised walk, and it was an amazing scene. After Clinton's 'issues' during the primary campaign, it was done partly, or even mainly, to highlight Chelsea, since polling showed that a large part of the population didn't even know the Clintons had a child, but it was also just an amazing way to bring in the candidate. Doing it again would drive the convention crowd absolutely wild. Something worth considering by the Clinton campaign as they think about where they really want the convention to be. (Then again, if you ask John Edwards where he would like the convention, you wonder if New Orleans shouldn't try to get back into this thing).

Update: Turns out the walk in 1992 was on Wednesday night, not for his speech (on Thursday), but to, in effect, "accept" the nomination, after the voting on Wednesday. Also, the idea was not original, but was also done by Kennedy in Los Angeles in 1960. I added a nice picture of the '92 convention floor.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Denver getting boost from New York's money issues?

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Denver is looking to capitalize on New York's money problems:

Advocates for bringing the 2008 Democratic National Convention to Denver were heartened Monday by persistent news reports that rival New York's power brokers are souring on that city's bid. But Denver boosters made it clear they're keeping their eye on the prize: working nonstop to heal an 11th-hour union rift that could kill the city's bid before Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean picks the convention winner next week.

"Sure, we should be encouraged by it," Denver 2008 Host Committee Executive Director Debbie Willhite said of the latest "tea-leaf- reading story" out of New York City. "But what we should really be encouraged by is all the strides that Denver has made to put this city into the competition. "What I don't want people in Denver to think when we get this convention is we got it because New York didn't want it. There has been enormous hard work put together to keep this bid moving forward. "It will not be a default victory."

Still, it didn't dampen Denver's hopes when a New York Daily News political blog reported Christmas Day that the Empire State's biggest political players and money-raisers were losing interest in ponying up the estimated $90 million needed to put on the presidential nominating bash.

Headlined "City may break with convention," the story cited anonymous sources saying city leaders were in "a coy standoff" with Dean and all but ready to give the party chairman a Bronx cheer.
Willhite pondered another possibility: that New York, which was lobbying hard just weeks ago to crush its smaller rival, could be exploring a graceful exit. "They probably didn't expect this to be such a fight," she said.

Somehow I think this is about more than a graceful exit for New York.

Monday, December 25, 2006

New York's money problems

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

According to the New York Daily News, New York officials continue to say they will not be able to raise the money the DNC requires to host the 2008 Democratic Convention:

Mayor Bloomberg made it known last month that he is too busy with other fund-raising, and none of the other likely candidates to lead the bid - Sens. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, and Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer - has rushed to take the helm.

"Chuck has made it abundantly clear that his commitment is raising money for the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which he chairs], and Hillary's commitment is to herself," said someone involved with the bid. "Eliot Spitzer has decided he needs to govern the state."

Meanwhile, the city's big Democratic fund-raisers "don't like Dean, and they don't like his staff," the source said. Indeed, one top New York Democrat, Maureen White, quit as DNC finance chairwoman this year. "The old institutional New York DNC players are no longer at the table," he said.

Dean said in November that money was Denver's biggest obstacle. Maybe not so much anymore? When reports of New York's money problems first surfaced in October, it was seen as a ploy. But continued stories make it clear that this is a significant issue for the New York bid, and with Bloomberg being a Republican who may be running for President, there may just not be the political power to get New York's issues resolved.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Novak: New York was selected, leaked, and pulled back

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Now Robert Novak has a history of not always getting things right, but he does have a new and interesting take on last weeks events:

Denver lacks sufficient hotel facilities, a suitable arena and labor union support, not to mention adequate financing. But when New York was leaked as the site, the reaction was so negative that Dean delayed a decision. Party members complained that it would be the fourth out of the last nine Democratic conventions scheduled for New York. Backers of Hillary Clinton don't want her nominated in her place of residence. George H.W. Bush and John Kerry lost elections when nominated in their respective hometowns of Houston and Boston.
First, nowhere else was there any mention that New York was selected, the choice leaked, and a negative reaction received. When you think about it, it makes no sense. Dean knows exactly how everyone feels about the sites, and knows that a large majority of Democrats want the convention in Denver. The scenario Novak paints just doesn't hold together.

But second, and much more interesting, is his thesis that Clinton backers don't want the convention in New York. Publicly, of course, Clinton is backing New York. But I wrote in November, and the Rocky Mountain News followed up earlier this month, that Clinton would be better situated with a Denver convention. And now Novak just makes the statement without caveat that the Clinton team wants Denver? Welcome to the bandwagon, Novak!

And finally, Novak didn't go back far enough on the hometown conventions. Here at 2008 Democratic Convention Watch, I cover these things months before the MSM get to them, and from my post back in March, there have been 4 home-town conventions in the last 60 years, and all 4 candidates lost:

Stevenson: '52, '56 - Chicago
Bush: '92 - Houston
Kerry: '04 - Boston

There were also two conventions at the opponents home site, and both times the candidates won: Eisenhower in 1952 in Chicago, and Kennedy in LA in 1960.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Looking back at 1988

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Kerri Rebresh over at Colorado Confidential has a look back at the site selection for the 1988 Democratic Convention. After the GOP chose New Orleans, Houston and Atlanta were the final two, and the DNC chose Atlanta for political reasons not unlike the arguments for Denver in 2008.

For more on the 2004 site selection, see my post here, and Democracy in Action's overview here.

Update: Her take on 1996 is now up. Interestingly, she mentions that it was originally proposed that the final night of the 1996 GOP convention be held outdoors at the baseball stadium. At one point, a similar proposal may have been part of Denver's bid this year, although I wrote in March that I thought it made no sense.

Update: 1992 and 2000 are now available

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Does the delay help either side?

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Does the delay in the announcement of the host of the 2008 Democratic Convention help either city? Most reports think the delay works to Denver's advantage:

Denver was granted critical time to settle an 11th hour labor beef that could sink its 2008 Democratic National Convention bid when Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean announced today that he'll delay picking whether Denver or New York City host the event until after New Years.
While some state party officials saw Dean's deadline reprieve on the decision that was expected to be made this week as an early Christmas present for Denver, DNC officials weren't commenting further.
The Democratic National Committee's decision this week to wait until the new year to decide where to hold the party's 2008 national convention is good news for Western Dems who want the convention to be held in Denver. So says Mike Stratton, a Colorado political consultant, lobbyist and political adviser for Gov. Bill Richardson.
but from the New York Daily News:
I may be wrong in seeing the hand of Chuck in delaying the Democrats' convention selection decision until next year, but it is probably good for the New York bid.
While I agree that the delay gives Denver time to resolve its outstanding issues, I think the fact that there had to be a delay at all was not good for Denver. I think it's clear that Dean wants to give the convention to Denver, but that fact that he couldn't do it this week, even though Denver has had all summer and fall to work on these issues, was not a good sign for Denver. Denver's best chance to get the convention may have been this week. Denver may still get the convention, but I think New York's chances increase with every passing day, even if Bloomberg no longer wants it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Could a Bloomberg presidential run be undermining New York's bid?

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

I've been wondering what's behind Bloomberg's continued concerns about New York's ability to raise money for a bid for the 2008 Democratic Convention:

"How do you, in this day and age, go and pay for these conventions when a lot of
people would like to give their money to specific candidate races or candidates
rather than to the convention itself?" Mr. Bloomberg said yesterday during an
appearance in Queens.
The article does go on to say that with New York candidates such as Clinton, Giuliani, and even Pataki, potentially running for president, that would drain a lot of the "New York money". But I wonder if another problem is an independent Bloomberg run for president. If he decides to run, that would be a big conflict of interest for him as his city would be reponsible for hosting the Democratic candidate. Maybe his advisors have asked him, do you really want to put the you and the city in that position?

Decision delayed until January

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

The DNC announced they would delay their decision on a site for the 2008 Democratic National Convention until January:

“Because of the holiday week and at the request of both cities, we will announce the convention city in early January,” spokeswoman Stacie Paxton said.

The delay is actually giving a little relief to Denver’s advocates, as a quicker DNC decision might have boded better for New York City. That is because Denver has been buffeted of late with public comments casting some doubts about the city’s viability as a convention contender.

After weeks of bouyantly promoting Denver as the front-runner to host the 2008 Democratic convention, that city’s boosters have hit a snag with organized labor — one that has depressed their hopes that Colorado’s capital will be able to outbid New York City as the convention site. Debbie Willhite, executive director of the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee, told the Denver Post that the city’s efforts to attract the convention had been dealt a blow when Jim Taylor, the head of the local stagehands union, declined to sign a “no strike” agreement with the national Democratic Party.

Taylor took issue with the convention’s main location, the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver. Taylor said his union regards the arena, home to the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, as a non-unionized venue.

But Willhite was quoted as saying the union’s resistance to the no-strike pledge is “probably a deal breaker” for the DNC, the organization that will choose the site for the Aug.25-28, 2008 convention site. Though the party is closely allied with the organized labor movement, Democratic officials have less than fond memories of a labor dispute between Boston officials and the local police union that complicated preparations for the party’s 2004 convention in that city. Union officials did not drop their threat to picket the Democratic convention site until that June, when prospective nominee John Kerry refused to cross a police picket line to attend a Boston meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

And although the Times surprisingly doesn't mention it, New York's bid also has it's problems:

Party officials have been negotiating for months with host committees for New York and Denver, but a series of problems with Denver's bid — and a significant cooling of interest from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — led Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean to seek more time to make a decision.

While New York's host committee has pledged to raise the money necessary to hold the convention, Bloomberg said Tuesday that the fundraising would be significantly more difficult than he once believed.

"The city can't go on the hook for a convention unless they're reasonably sure they can raise the money," he said, noting that New York had financed the 2004 convention entirely through private fundraising."We'd like conventions to come here and spend money and be a net positive for this city, so while it was in the last case because we financed it all privately, I'm not sure we could do that again," he said.

If Bloomberg has been a Democrat, I wonder if he would be so concerned about raising money for the Democratic Convention.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Willhite: This could be a deal breaker for Denver

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

This does not sound good for Denver's bid:

Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention hit a serious snag Monday after a union leader refused to sign a no-strike pledge, with a decision due anytime.

City and union officials confirmed Monday that Jim Taylor, head of the local stagehands union, is refusing to sign a mandatory agreement with national Democrats pledging not to strike if the convention comes to Denver.

Debbie Willhite, executive director of the host committee, said not having full union support is "probably a deal breaker" for the DNC.

But Denver's director of theaters and arenas, Jack Finlaw, said he was "optimistic" that Taylor and the stagehands would sign on. "There is still time," Finlaw said.

The decision could come as soon as today, but Democrats said they would finalize their 2008 convention by the end of the year.

Taylor, president of the Local No. 7 International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, balked at signing because labor views the Pepsi Center as anti- union, said labor leader Leslie Moody. "I think that has been the case all along," said Moody, president of the Denver Area Labor Federation. "There are several unions that really aren't interested in signing on."

Union issues were a concern early on for the city when the Denver Area Labor Federation passed a resolution opposing the bid. But in August, the group shelved that resolution.

Taylor is upset that the convention would be held in a venue that is not unionized, Moody said.

Denver's host committee believed it had locked up union support when the resolution was dropped. "They made a decision that they would have all the unions sign," Willhite said. But Moody said that was not the case, and she questioned the city's commitment to labor.

"These folks have been calling me once a day at best," she said. "We are not the No. 1 concern. ... If we were the priority, they would have had somebody camped out at my door."

But Moody said union issues are not the only problem with Denver's bid. She pointed to financial and logistical issues, suggesting the metro area did not have enough hotel rooms.

"If somebody is saying labor is holding this up, then why were we brought in in the eleventh hour?" said Moody, who said she didn't get the agreement until a week ago.

The agreement not to strike is standard practice when a city bids for the party convention. In large part, it is a pledge not to participate in a work stoppage while the Democrats are in town.

At the Pepsi Center - the facility Democrats would use - stagehands are not unionized. So a stagehands strike would probably not affect the convention.

But Taylor's refusal to sign the nonstrike agreement would cripple Denver's bid for the convention. "It's probably a deal breaker to our getting the convention," Willhite said.

This just got nasty. Moody points to financial and logistical issues, so if Denver doesn't get the bid, the labor folks won't be blamed? This all sounds like the reason Dean has delayed announcing a decision.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Denver's hired gun could be the difference

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention is being led by Debbie Willhite. A veteran of numerous conventions, Willhite was hired in July to lead Denver's effort, and she is hoping for a payoff soon:

Debbie Willhite knows when one of the key people trying to bring the Democratic National Convention to Denver is calling - her cell phone is programmed to play the theme song from the 1960s television cowboy drama Bonanza. As director of the committee charged with luring the Democrats to Denver in 2008, Willhite has been making the case that Colorado and the West are the Democrats' new frontier, and the music on her phone is a constant reminder of that pitch.

"It will say something different about the party to be in the new West," Willhite said.

Ironically, the woman who is leading the roundup for Denver hails from Arkansas and speaks with a Southern accent. She's built up a formidable reputation as a political consultant, with a career that spans almost three decades.

Willhite, 55, lives in Washington, D.C., but has been coming to Colorado since 1980, when she campaigned here for President Jimmy Carter. She has been closely allied with Bill Clinton, and was heavily involved in both his campaigns. Clinton put her in charge of the Denver Summit of the Eight, a meeting of the leaders of the world's most powerful countries, in 1997.

She's been in Denver since last summer, working to persuade Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean to choose Denver over rival New York City. Dean is expected to announce his decision soon.

Willhite has had a hand in every Democratic convention since 1980, and she says her fascination with conventions goes back to childhood. As a farm girl in northwestern Arkansas, she watched the political conventions on TV. "I was always fascinated by what went on behind the scenes," Willhite said. "Back then, conventions were covered gavel to gavel. I decided when I was in fourth grade I wanted to be part of managing events."
When asked if she's a hired gun, Willhite smiles. "I've never shot anybody," she said. "I think of a hired gun as somebody who rides out of town and never comes back."

Then she laughs. "I've maintained pretty good relations with people I've worked with, except those I shot," she said.

If Denver wins this thing, Willhite's work will be a major reason, and well worth whatever Denver is paying her.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Denver lobbying hard

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Denver Democrats lobbied DNC Chairman Howard Dean hard on Friday to try to nail down its bid to host the 2008 Democratic Convention, and are feeling better about things:

Sen. Ken Salazar, Gov.-elect Bill Ritter and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper emerged from a Friday morning conference call with Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean feeling "very hopeful, confident and enthusiastic," Salazar spokesman Cody Wertz said.
More from the Rocky Mountain News:
Colorado's Democratic political power-troika - Gov.elect Bill Ritter, U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper - teamed up on a conference call Friday to tell party chairman Howard Dean that Denver has what it takes to put on a fantastic 2008 presidential nominating convention.

With former Vermont Gov. Dean expected to pick Denver or New York City early next week to host the national convention, the call was one last lobbying push to ease reported concerns about Denver's ability to raise enough money and hotel rooms, and to deliver on the mammoth logistical and security demands required by the $80 million political bash for 35,000 visitors.

The message of the 20-minute call was clear: "We would make it one of the best-run conventions in history," Hickenlooper recounted.
While the Democratic Party has been pressing Denver to bolster its fund-raising, Denver 2008 Host Committee leader Debbie Willhite said: "Right now, I would rather have our issues to overcome than New York's."

She was referring to the Big Apple's need to find temporary space to house thousands of journalists within Madison Square Garden's convention security zone, given that city's pricey, scarce real estate.

I haven't talked about facilities for a while, but neither city has a big nearby building to house the media. Denver has an easier solution: Build temporary facilities in the Pepsi Center parking lots, just as Boston did. New York used the adjacent Farley Post Office for the media for the 2004 GOP convention, but it's not available in 2008, so I'm not sure what New York is proposing - but it sounds like it's an issue for New York's bid.

Denver Facilities Overview

Friday, December 15, 2006

It's 50-50

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

More today on concerns that Denver chances of hosting the 2008 Democrat Convention may be decreasing:

Mile-high hopes are dimming that Denver will secure the 2008 Democratic convention.

Democrats posted against-the-odds victories in several statewide elections last month in the West, making Denver an attractive choice for a party looking to expand on recent gains in the Republican-leaning region. But even once-optimistic Colorado boosters are lowering their odds to 50-50 that Denver will beat out New York City for the convention.

Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar said this week that in private conversations Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean had expressed legitimate concerns about whether Denver can raise the necessary $55 million and put on a seamless convention.

Colorado Democratic Party Chairwoman Pat Waak said Friday that whether Democrats will pick Denver "comes down to the practicality of (Denver) being able to do this."

"There probably is some sentimental favoritism toward Denver because the West is the new Democratic ground, and Colorado did so well in the last election," Waak said. "But everything I've heard is that this costs a lot of money to do and obviously New York is a much bigger city with a much bigger corporate base to raise money from."
Democrats are trying to avoid last-minute problems with fundraising and logistics that have plagued past conventions. Western Democratic governors, including Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, have pledged to help with fundraising, but convention organizers declined to say how much money they have raised.

"You have to understand we're competing against a city that has 8 million people," said Elbra Wedgeworth, leader for Denver's host committee. The city's population is about 557,000. "We've raised a significant amount of money for Denver, and we feel we still have a competitive bid," Wedgeworth said.

It's not money alone that raises questions about Denver's ability to put on the convention. Salazar said Dean also questioned him about whether Denver can handle the 35,000 convention-goers. Denver needs to prove it has about 19,000 hotel rooms, union support and adequate security _ hurdles that many believe New York can more easily clear.

Salazar, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Colorado Gov.-elect Bill Ritter talked again with Dean on Friday. Salazar spokesman Cody Wertz said the three "came away feeling hopeful" that they can alleviate Dean's concerns about Denver.

And from Denver Host committee executive director Debbie Willhite:
"It has always been 50-50," she said. "But the tie will go to us. There has always been this perception that New York can raise the money very, very quickly - and maybe they can. But you don't have to raise it very, very quickly."

Willhite said the host committee has a timeline for meeting the Democrats' budget needs. Still, she acknowledged Denver is short of the fundraising mark.

"Would we like to have all $80 million in commitments right now? Sure," she said. "But we don't need them all right now."

Denver's bid has been up and down all year, so why should the last weekend be any different.

Converting the Pepsi Center into a TV studio

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

An overview of what Denver has to go through to convert the Pepsi Center for use as host of the 2008 Democratic Convention, if Denver gets the convention:

It will cost millions of dollars to get the Pepsi Center ready for the Democratic National Convention if Denver is chosen to host the event.

The sports and entertainment arena would be unavailable for other events for up to eight weeks around the Aug. 25-28, 2008, convention in order to accommodate interior construction, setup and breakdown.


At national political conventions this decade held in Los Angeles, New York and Boston, more than $10 million apiece was spent to renovate the respective arenas.

"It would be a substantial number" at the Pepsi Center, said Mike Benson, senior vice president of business affairs and treasurer at Kroenke Sports Enterprises, which owns the 700,000-square-foot arena, the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche. Benson declined to provide renovation cost estimates.

Some expected changes would be converting 50 of the Pepsi Center's 93 luxury suites into TV anchor booths, according to bid documents. Other upgrades could include additional audio systems and the installation of a teleprompter system.

The bid documents also detail how the host committee would be responsible for all associated construction costs and for returning the sports arena to Kroenke Sports in a "condition acceptable" to the company.


The Staples Center in Los Angeles underwent $10 million in alterations to host the 2000 Democratic National Convention. That included the temporary removal of 4,000 seats, according to Michael Roth, the arena's vice president of communications.

The center also converted nearly 40 of its 160 luxury suites into broadcast booths. That required removing furniture, adding air-conditioning units to handle the heat generated by television lights and upgrading wiring to meet broadcasting demands. "You turn over your building to the DNC and work closely with them for two to three months," Roth said.


Madison Square Garden in New York underwent a reported $11 million in renovations to prepare for the 2004 Republican National Convention. An estimated $150 million was spent overall for the New York event.

The Pepsi Center would have to be back in working condition by mid-September 2008 to accommodate the Colorado Avalanche hockey team's preseason schedule, said Benson.

"It is a concern," he said. "It's a big undertaking."

It shouldn't be a concern. You won't see anyone at Madison Square Garden saying "it's a concern" - they've done it 4 times in the last 30 years. And while a quote today won't make a difference, if concerns like that were expressed in the past, it's not surprising the DNC is wondering if Denver is really up to this.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Daily Kos poll

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Kos has his latest, and final, poll on where the Democrats should hold their 2008 convention. With over 10,700 votes as of 9:00 PM EST:

Denver: 89%
New York: 11%

Previous results:

July 14 (2064 votes):

Denver: 61%
Minneapolis: 26%
New York: 11%

May 25 (8033 votes):

New Orleans: 35%
Denver: 33%
Minneapolis: 23%
New York: 7%

New York making a strong push

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

New York is making a strong last-minute push to get the 2008 Democratic Convention:

Democratic officials moved into the final stage of deliberations yesterday about where to place their party’s 2008 nominating convention, with New York officials saying they were increasingly confident that the party would turn to their city for its convention for the first time in 16 years. Party officials said the decision — with New York competing against Denver — would be made no later than Monday, and perhaps by the end of this week.

The New York officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing the negotiations, said their prospects for winning the convention looked good, despite Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s reservations about his ability to raise roughly $85 million to cover the costs. Prominent New York Democrats, including Senator Charles E. Schumer and Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer, have been working to promote the bid within the Democratic National Committee.

Officials working on the bid have contended that New York is better positioned than Denver to deliver the financing, hotel rooms, entertainment space, logistical support and labor union cooperation that are needed for a successful convention. All that the city lacks, the officials agree, is a voter base that has not already made up its mind. “New York has every advantage except that we’re a deep blue state,” Mr. Schumer said in an interview yesterday.
Yet some Democrats in Washington with knowledge of the two bids said that Denver had offered fewer clear assurances than New York that it could raise the necessary money, a crucial factor for the party chairman, Howard Dean. These Democrats said that Mr. Dean was very high on the idea of Denver and its promise as fertile political ground, but that he might conclude that New York had the better bid on paper.
In a break from years past, party officials are negotiating agreements with both contending cities before making a selection, in hopes of avoiding the kinds of problems seen in the past. In 2004, for instance, Boston struggled to raise all the money it had promised to the party.

And the Denver contingent is concerned:
A conversation today with Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean left Sen. Ken Salazar "concerned" that Denver might lose to New York City in the competition for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Salazar spokesman Cody Wertz confirmed.

Salazar and Dean spoke for more than 30 minutes Thursday morning, and it ended with the senator putting the odds of Denver winning the convention at "50-50" — a less optimistic assessment than previously, Wertz said.

"He is concerned about whether or not the convention will come here," Wertz said. "It is not our decision. It's Howard Dean's decision. Sen. Salazar, along with several others in Denver and the state are working hard on the issue."

After the call, "He came away concerned," Wertz said. "He said the odds were 50-50 and that's why there are several people, including Sen. Salazar working hard to get the convention."

50-50. Decision tomorrow or Monday.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Top Ten reasons to have the convention in Denver

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Colorado Confidential has the Top Ten Reasons why Denver will be picked to host the convention. A few highlights:

9: Rocky Mountain Oysters

5: Denver is a Mile High on hip and attitude.

3: Senator Hillary Clinton (A) and DNC Chair, Howard Dean (B) do not like each other. Hillary wants NYC (C) as the convention site. Dean lived in Aspen (D) for a year. The Denver (E) site is a mulit-Western state political effort (F) and is symbolic of a New Beginning for Democrats (G). NYC is NYC. (H) The West (I) is turning purple with Democratic successes (J). The East (K) is already mostly Democratic. Mathematically, the convention goes to Denver: (A + K) / H = C < (B+D + I) x (F + G) x J = E.

Where does Hillary really want the convention?

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

I wrote just before Thanksgiving that while Hillary Clinton publicly supported New York to host the 2008 Democratic Convention, a Denver (i.e., non-New York) convention would better help her to highlight her midwestern and southern roots, assuming she gets the nomination, of course. The Rocky Mountain News looks at this further:

If Denver wins the Democratic National Convention over New York City, the potential presidential nominee with the most to gain from a Denver confab is likely one of the people lobbying against it: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, of New York.

A decision on which city will host the 2008 convention could come this week, and politicians such as Clinton and Sen. Ken Salazar, D- Colo., have been pushing for their home states.

Ironically, many analysts say that of the leading contenders, Clinton might get the biggest boost from a Denver convention. To win, a Democratic presidential nominee must reach out beyond the party's base in the Northeast and on the West Coast. That's especially true for a senator from New York.

Political analyst Jennifer Duffy, of The Cook Political Report, said that Clinton can't count on any big boost from a hometown convention in New York City. She noted that Sen. John Kerry, of Massachusetts, was nominated in Boston, a choice that made it easier for his opponents to paint him as an out-of-touch "Massachusetts liberal."

"My gut tells me (that) going to Denver is better for her," Duffy said of Clinton, and she said the same logic applies to virtually every other top-tier Democratic presidential contender. "If any Democrat, including her, is going to win the presidency, they've got to win a state that Bush won last time, and there are a number of potential battlegrounds in the West, including Colorado."

Meanwhile, Clinton is a known entity in New York, and going there "sort of gives the perception this is the same Democratic Party we always see," Duffy said. "They're trying to put a new face on it."

Clinton is the only one of the major Democratic candidates to come from the Northeast, so she would have the most to gain, but it's been clear all year that the Democrats would not gain anything from holding the convention in New York, and that any Democratic candidate would be better off with the convention in Denver.

DNC: No decision yet

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at reports that Dean and the DNC are still thinking about where to hold the 2008 Democratic Convention:

Democrats with 2008 on their minds will have to wait a bit longer to learn whether their party will hold its presidential nominating convention in Denver or in New York City. While a site selection announcement was widely expected to have been made by now, DNC spokesman Damien LaVera said Wednesday that “a final decision has not been made.”

But LaVera added that party officials likely are not going to put that decision off much longer, stating that the choice of which city will host the convention — to be held Aug. 25-28 in 2008 — is likely to come before Jan. 1.

There's no way to read anything into the delay, so we just continue to wait.

Rocky Mountain News convention articles

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

The Rocky Mountain News has three articles today on Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic Convention:

"So what about Hillary and Denver Democrats?", reiterating my point from yesterday that Hillary would be happier with a Denver convention.

"Hotel a magnet in attracting Dems", about Denver's union hotel. Update: On further review, not much new convention news here in this one.

"Investing in Dems", about Qwest's" contributions to the convention.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The waiting game

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

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).

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.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Denver confident about bid

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

The leaders of Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic Convention are confident leading into a potential decision this coming week:

Denver 2008 Host Committee leaders are confident they have persuaded the Democratic National Committee that the city has the right stuff - money, hotel accommodations and union representation - to showcase the presidential nomination bash for 35,000 visitors. "We think that we've got over the obstacles," said Steve Farber, an influential Denver attorney and co-chair of the host committee.

Debbie Willhite, a veteran party strategist hired to head the host committee, agreed. "We're very close to being there," she said, about raising Denver's share of the estimated $80 million convention cost. "We think that it's highly probable that we could be there by the end of this week."

"Time has always been on our side in this process," she said of Denver's drawn out competition with deep-pocketed New York City. "Every day we raise more money, and we put together more of the pieces that go beyond what the scope of the bid was," she said.

DNC officials made a low-key visit to Denver on Wednesday to scrutinize the city's fundraising and in-kind contributions from major corporations, according to a source who requested anonymity, given the sensitivity of the final negotiations.

Next week, the man who will make the ultimate call - DNC Chairman Howard Dean - returns from a European trip. Willhite said she hopes to get decision then. "We're cautiously, optimistically and anxiously waiting," Willhite said."It's been a good courtship, but it's time to see where this relationship is going."

We should hopefullly know soon if Denver's optimism is warranted.

Western Senators endorse Denver

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Ten Western Senators and Senators-to-be endorsed Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic Convention:

Holding the convention in Denver would help cement the party's recent political gains and “send a powerful message that the Democrats are ready to fight for a Democratic majority nationwide and for a new direction for America,” said the letter.
The letter noted that since 2002, Democrats have won GOP-held governorships in Montana, Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. Last month, Democrats also picked up a Republican-held Senate seat in Montana and GOP-held House seats in Colorado and Arizona.

“In 2008, our presidential nominee will have, for the first time in many years, an excellent chance of winning several Western states, which would secure enough key Electoral College votes to restore our leadership in the White House,” the letter said. “In short, the West is the Democratic Party's new frontier.”
Signing the letter were Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada, the incoming Senate majority leader; Ken Salazar of Colorado; Max Baucus and Sen.-elect Jon Tester of Montana; Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico; Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad of North Dakota; Maria Cantwell of Washington; Tim Johnson of South Dakota; and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

The full letter can be seen here. Democratic National Committee spokesman Damien LaVera responsed, saying:

“We've heard a wide variety of views from community leaders in both cities. We're fortunate to have two strong bids from two great American cities and we hope to have our decision by the end of the year."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Reid on Denver

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

The Denver Post reports that Senate Majority Leader-To-Be Harry Reid cryptically says that “progress is being made” on behalf of Denver’s bid to stage the 2008 Democratic Convention.

But he said that “it’s a difficult decision” for party chairman Howard Dean, given New York’s advantages as an experienced, well-funded convention town.
"Progress is being made" is a reflection of things going on behind the scenes. As I noted on Sunday, the DNC visited Denver and New York last week, and is supposed to be in Denver again this week.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Denver reserves 18,000 rooms

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

According to the Denver Post, the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau has guaranteed the DNC at least 18,000 of the roughly 38,000 local hotel rooms, all within a 16-minute drive of downtown, for the 2008 Democratic Convention.

It's Denver announcing money, and Denver announcing hotels. Is Denver feeling insecure against New York, the veteran convention city, and therefore feels they have to announce everything while the quietly confident New York gives their information privately to the DNC? Or is Denver just checking off the final items on their todo list? We should know in a week or two.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Guest blogger

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

I'd like to welcome Oreo as a guest blogger. Oreo is a diarist on Daily Kos and Square State, and will be helping out here - I'm starting a new job which will prevent me from posting during the daytime.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Dean on convention site choice

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

DNC Chairman Howard Dean was interviewed by the Denver Post on his upcoming decision on where to hold the 2008 Democratic Convention, and there were three items that stood out:

  1. The decision will not be coming this week, as had been implied. Dean: "I have to go to Europe next week, and when I come back, hopefully, we'll be ready to announce it."
  2. The DNC visited both Denver and New York last week, and are meeting with Denver again this week.
  3. Dean says on his choice: "I am not leaning any different way"
Looks like we'll have to wait another week for a decision.

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.