Free Haircuts Can’t Dampen Denver’s Convention Chances

There could not have been a better headline in Sunday’s New York Times for the Denver 2008 Host Committee seeking the Democratic National Convention: “Fund-Raising Obstacles Imperil N.Y. Bid for ’08 Democratic Convention.” Apparently, New York City’s bid to land the 2008 Democratic National Convention is in jeopardy because Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is over-committed with fund-raising assignments and he may not be able to raise $85 to $100 million from private donors to host the DNC convention, according to a New York City official.

If NYC host committee officials cannot raise the amount privately, the city would have to make up the difference, breaking a promise that Bloomberg made when seeking the convention. Over $85 million was procured when the Republicans came to town in 2004.

In the meantime, a letter of support for the Denver location was signed by over 47 Democratic members of Congress and sent to DNC chair, Howard Dean, this past week. Excerpts from the letter are reprinted from DemNotes:

Although once solidly a red portion of the country, Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West are rapidly trending blue.  In fact, Democrats now control Gubernatorial seats in Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, maintain control of at least one house in most of the state legislatures throughout the West and the number of Democratic Congressional leaders continues to increase.

It is critical to the outcome of the 2008 Presidential elections that the Democrats focus long overdue attention on the West.  In recent decades, the Western United States have seen rapid growth in cities such as Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix and Salt Lake City and political ideologies and representation have changed accordingly.  The Democratic Party must seize the opportunity and take advantage of the changed political landscape of the West and take back the White House in 2008.

Four US Senators, including top Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, have also endorsed Denver for the 2008 DNC convention.

NYC officials have touted its convention experience and convenient media location in comparison to Denver’s. There are over 63,000 hotel rooms in NYC. The Denver area has 19,000. Included in the NYC pitch was a promise to decorate the entire city, provide delegates with concierge services and offer the news media free spa treatments and haircuts.

In September, workers at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center formed a union, which enhanced Denver’s chances.

If the convention were held in Denver, political experts say it would give the national Democrats an opportunity to court a region considered increasingly more “purple.”

One of the downsides of hosting a convention, as NYC found out with the 2004 Republican Convention, is the potential of numerous protests. In 2004, according to the NY Times article, those protests led to mass arrests and detentions, followed by lawsuits against the city that are still making their way through the court system.

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Leslie Robinson

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