On One Hand

December 16, 2006

2008 Democratic Convention

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 12:13 am
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Denver and New York City are neck and neck in their bids for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The competition has been whittled down to the two geographically distinct cities from an original 11 cities and municipalities that were first considered. The convention, which will take place in late August 2008, is going to require over $80 million in sponsorship – $55 million of which must come from private donors, while the remaining $25 million will come from the Federal Government.

Howard Dean, the Democratic party’s chairman and the person who will ultimately decide if the bid goes to Denver or New York, has indicated that he favors Denver as a location, and party leaders think it could help the Democrats hold on to recent political gains in the region. The problem is that Denver, a city of a little over half a million people, is dwarfed by New York City, which has over 8 million residents: 16 times Denver’s population. The business establishment in New York is huge, providing a host of donors. Denver has fewer resources with which to raise the required $55 million in private and corporate donations, and fewer hotel rooms to house the estimated 35,000 delgates, journalists and other visitors that will come to the city to see the convention.

Because of the Denver’s positive and friendly image, many Democrats consider it a more politically-advantageous place to host the convention, and Denver has been endorsed by a host of Democrats in the House and Senate. New York City, on the other hand, has been endorsed by the two Democratic Senators from the state of New York, including Senator Hillary Clinton.

Denver saw the media giants Qwest and Comcast pledge about $5 million each in services, Xcel Energy pledge a million and a half in services, and several smaller companies, including Coors, pledge smaller amounts of less than 1 million in cash. See Article. But Denver still has a long way to go, and some media outlets are reporting that the difficulty in raising funds may cause Denver to lose the convention.

Denver is seen as a prime location for the 2008 convention because it would put the national focus on Democrats in the West, where the party needs to pick up swing states in order to win the presidency. Also, Colorado, a traditionally Republican state, recently turned blue during the 2006 midterm elections in November: the state just elected a Democratic governor and maintained a Democratic majority in both houses of the state legislature, while 4 of the 7 congressmen the state will send to Washington are Democrats. The state’s senators are 50-50, Democrat Ken Salazar and Republican Wayne Allard, and Salazar is one of the leading proponents of the convention in Denver.

Meanwhile, Democrats gained in surrounding mountain states , including Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming during the 2006 midterms.

Of the 11 cities originally invited to bid on the Democratic convention, Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and New York City put forth bids. Minneapolis was taken out of the running when Republican leaders announced they will hold their convention in there, and Democrats were left with New York and Denver to choose from.

It’s probably no surprise that I support Denver’s bid. First of all, I can’t think of any worse place for Democrats to hold their convention than New York; on an electoral map where Democrats have a hard time gaining favor in the South and West, which they need in order to win, they can only hurt themselves and their image by hosting their convention in New York, a place where they are already basically guaranteed to win and a place that Southerners and Westerners hold their noses at. The Mountain West is viewed positively by swing voters across the country, and people don’t have nearly as much animosity toward the unknown Denver as they do toward New York City.

If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, she’d already have the New Yorker association, since she lives there now, and doesn’t need that double-association with New York by being officially nominated there as well. If Barack Obama – who hails from the big city of Chicago – is nominated, he’ll want some of Denver’s grassroots, progressive energy as well, hoping to temper that Big-City image that swing voters find distasteful in extremes. John Edwards, meanwhile, has personally endorsed Denver as the convention site.

Denver’s amenities include the massive Convention Center, the new Convention Center Hotel, the relatively new Pepsi Center where the main convention would be held, the sea of parking lots outside the Pepsi Center on which to set up media trucks and tents, several new and planned hotels Downtown, a massive, state-of-the-art airport, a light rail system connecting the city to its suburbs, a thriving Downtown full of restaraunts and entertainment opportunities and great natural scenery.

But choosing Denver wouldn’t only be great for the Democrats; the Democratic Convention would be great for Denver itself. The big event would help to put Denver on the map as a major city, and reward a municipality that is on the forefront of progressive urban planning and infrastructure. It would pump money (an estimated $150-200 million) into the regional economy, but also put valued media attention on the thriving Downtown area, with all the new development going on and Downtown Denver’s clean, upward-mobile yet intimate feel. I think it could spark new development in the region, and also garner the attention of powerful progressives who could put further focus on Denver in post-convention years. Perhaps Denver’s innovative amenities – the distinct neighborhoods, the 16th Street Mall, light rail, the placement of stadiums and amusement parks downtown, the thriving Civic area, and Denver’s unique, welcoming atmosphere could offer other mid-sized municipalities, that straddle being a local and a regional center, some ideas on how to do smart and sustainable development.

Plus, a convention in Denver would be something that Denverites would really appreciate (Denver hasn’t held a convention since the Dems in 1908 – exactly 100 years before the proposed 2008 convention – ) while New Yorkers, who see a major convergence of national or world leaders almost daily, wouldn’t even notice who’s in town.

In any case, here’s a poll on the issue, as you may not all agree with me here. Feel free to comment.

I encourage everyone who cares passionately about this (understanding that may be nobody but me) to email your representative and as him or her to tell Howard Dean to pick Denver as the strategic choice for the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Links:

Democratic Convention Watch

Official Denver Convention 2008 Website

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7 Comments »

  1. I can’t think of any worse place for Democrats to hold their convention than New York

    Tehran.

    But yeah, you’re right on the money.

    Comment by jdhenchman — December 16, 2006 @ 12:54 pm | Reply

  2. Denver

    Dear Matt:
    I totally agree with your assessment. I live near Philadelphia (as you might have remembered from the many years I’ve looked into your posts), and I think that as Denver grows southward, Colorado will become more Democratic. Bill Clinton even took the state in 1992. I’m sure Matthew Wayne Shepard (who is indirectly responsible for my finding you) would also be thrilled to have the Democratic convention in Denver, despite the bad time he had there in 1998.

    Alfred

    Comment by Anonymous — December 16, 2006 @ 11:46 pm | Reply

    • Re: Denver

      Right, I think Colorado is already “more Democratic” than people think. For example, the state currently has elected a Democratic majority in just about every sector it can; there’s the State Senate, the State House, the governorship and the Federal House – and the Federal Senators from Colorado are split 50/50. What’s left to win? Just an electoral vote for President. Without Colorado Springs, the state would be solidly blue.

      What do you mean about Denver growing “Southward?” The South Denver Metro. Area holds the most Conservative neighborhoods in the state, which are luckly not growing nearly as fast as they used to, because they were taking up ridiculous amounts of space.

      And, Matthew Shephard was in Wyoming… ?

      Comment by ononehand — December 17, 2006 @ 6:05 am | Reply

      • Comment by Anonymous — December 20, 2006 @ 12:45 am

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