Denver to host party in 2008
Democrats select convention site
NEW YORK -- Democrats selected Denver to host their 2008 presidential convention, turning down New York in favor of a problematic but enthusiastic bid from a city in the increasingly Democratic Rocky Mountain West.
"Given the West's winning history, it's fitting that the next president of the United States will be nominated in Denver in 2008 and will be introduced to the American people in the Rocky Mountains," Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean told reporters on a conference call with Colorado officials.
Denver mounted a spirited effort to win the convention, organizing a sophisticated public relations campaign and enlisting help from Democratic lawmakers throughout the West. But the bid was fraught with logistical problems, among them a lack of hotel rooms, its ability to raise the necessary $55 million to run the convention, and labor concerns.
The city's bid was nearly scuttled last month when the influential stagehands union refused to agree not to strike if the convention was held at the nonunion Pepsi Center.
In the end, Dean enlisted the help of labor leaders in Washington, including AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union. A compromise was negotiated to staff the Pepsi Center entirely with union labor for the duration of the convention, effectively solving the last major obstacle .
Dean acknowledged that there were some labor issues still to be worked out, and there was no evidence that hosting a political convention in a particular geographic region boosted a presidential candidate's chances for victory in that region.
Still, Dean said, the choice of Denver reflected his commitment to building the party nationally.
"It's important, in politics, to put your money where your mouth is," Dean said. "I've said consistently we want to have a 50-state strategy."
New York had eagerly sought the convention for months, but its mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said in recent weeks that he would not commit the city to underwriting the convention's costs.
"We are disappointed, but as I had pointed out a number of times, these conventions have gotten very expensive," Bloomberg said at an event in Brooklyn.
Several members of Congress urged Dean to choose Denver to help cement recent Democratic victories in the Republican-leaning West. Since 2002, Democrats have won GOP-held governorships in Colorado and six other Western states, and in November Democrats picked up a Republican-held Senate seat in Montana and GOP-held House seats in Colorado and Arizona.
Democrats in other Western states have pledged to help with fund-raising.
The convention -- which is expected to attract 35,000, including 4,950 delegates and alternates -- will be held Aug. 25-28 after the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Denver last hosted the Democratic National Convention in 1908, when Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska in his third unsuccessful effort for the party.