Sunday, February 04, 2007

Denver reorganizes convention preparations

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

In a somewhat controversial move, Denver has formed a new committee to continue preparations for hosting the 2008 Democratic Convention:

An executive committee has been appointed to oversee preparations for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, leaving some members of the original organizing group unsure of their role in planning for the event. Katherine Archuleta, senior adviser for policy and initiatives to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, confirmed Monday that the city's highest Democratic elected officials have been named to an "executive committee" for the convention.

The new group is made up of the mayor, U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, Gov. Bill Ritter, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth - the president of Denver's host committee - and fund-raiser Steve Farber, who was a co-chairman of the host committee.

Archuleta said the group will "take a look at how you implement the bid that was successfully won. "First and foremost is the fundraising. That is the one thing that is on their minds right now because we need to get that money in."

Which leaves Debbie Willhite out of the loop:
"I am not a heavy-duty fundraiser," said Debbie Willhite, executive director of the Denver Host Committee, which led the effort to land the convention. "For the next year, job number one is raising the money," she said.
Wedgeworth said the Host Committee had done its job by landing the convention, and now the new committee will lead some of the same volunteers. "We're just basically evolving to the next phase of this process," Wedgeworth said. "I do think every member of the original steering committee would move heaven and earth to make this event a success," she said.

Other members of the new committee include Sen. Ken Salazar, Rep. Diana DeGette, Gov. Bill Ritter and Mayor John Hickenlooper. Willhite said she would be willing to stay on in some capacity. One of the committee's first tasks will be to hire a director. Neither Wedgeworth nor Hickenlooper adviser Katherine Archuleta would speculate on who that might be.

While this could easily have gone on in the past, I'm not aware of Host Committees being "disbanded" like this. Once the fundraising is over, will they reorganize again to provide all the host city functions that are needed during the convention itself?


Anonymous said...

Is Dan Slater still being involved in the process? He really should be!

Matt said...

Good question. Dan is a reader here, maybe he'll respond directly?

Anonymous said...

"Once the fundraising is over, will they reorganize again to provide all the host city functions that are needed during the convention itself?"

Matt, if this convention follows the pattern of others, the fundraising may never technically be just morphs into getting the funders to deliver and then battling through the process of distributing the funds to the DNC and the myriad vendors and labor crews that come together to actually produce the convention.

Let's face it, they may throw a few parties and host a few early press events, but the host committee's primary role from this point forward is all about the $$.

Dan said...

Everything's still a little unclear - things should settle down in the next week or so. I've heard through the grapevine that I'll still have some role to play in the Convention (by definition, as a DNC Member and Vice Chair of the Colorado Dems, I'll have a bit of a role anyway).

In any event, we didn't go after this Convention for anybody's personal glory. What role I -- or any member of the original Host Committee -- play from here out is a tiny concern compared to the fact that we were successful in our original endeavor - to bring the Convention to Denver!

All (or most) of us on the Host Committee recognized that things, including leadership, would change drastically once we were selected. So none of this comes as a surprise or a disappointment. It's the natural evolution of Denver's Convention effort.