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May 22, 2004
Boston Awakes To A $15 Million Scam

The Boston Globe carries local reaction this morning to the Democrats' surprise announcement yesterday that the Democratic nominating convention may not produce a nominee. Needless to say, for a city that spening millions of dollars and proposing a week of major highway blockages and business shutdowns for the convention, the prospect of suffering all of this for a "pep rally" does not amuse Bostonians in the least:

Local organizers were caught off-guard by the Kerry campaign yesterday. Mayor Thomas Menino told WBZ-TV, "I was very suprised by it." This week's announcements of road closings for the convention have already taken a toll, he said. "After being beat up two days, and now this. . . . It's just a question about why this wasn't brought up earlier." ...

Raising the stakes for the city and state, too, the Democratic Party has received about $15 million in taxpayer funds to hold its nominating convention. Trevor Potter, a former FEC chairman who is now president of the independent Campaign Legal Center, predicts that Democrats would probably have to return the money if the event did not produce a nominee. ''If this convention doesn't produce a nominee in Boston, what's the point?" Potter said. ...

Republican National Committee lawyers immediately began researching the implications such a move would have on federal dollars that flow to the convention. Darrell Crate, chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, said he was concerned that state or city taxpayers would be on the hook if the convention sacrifices federal dollars. He said that the traffic delays in and around Boston would hardly be worth the hassle if there isn't a formal nomination. ''I feel bad for the hundreds of thousands of commuters who would be inconvenienced just for a pep rally," Crate said.

How about it, Boston? Feel like kicking the $15 million back into the mix? I doubt that Democrats would even ask. However, if they lose the $15 million in federal funding for the convention, they would have to replace it from their own pockets. Wouldn't that tend to negate the money advantage that Kerry gains from playing games with the nomination? Even Democrats, outside of the Kerry campaign, show little enthusiasm for this plan:

While Democratic Party officials publicly lined up behind the Kerry campaign's brainstorming, some said privately that they, too, were concerned about the fate of the $15 million in federal funding and that the convention would lose its potency if it did not yield a nominee. According to one Democratic Party official, who spoke on condition on anonymity, the party rules could be rewritten to transform the July gathering ''from a nominating convention to a convention for rallying around the candidate-nominee."

''I don't know if a really big rally would work," the official said.

Another concern is the Democrats' ability to have television networks cover their July convention, and especially Kerry's speech, if he is not officially nominated. ''Does it factor in? Sure," said Mark Lukasiewicz, executive producer of NBC News political coverage. ''We have to consider the news value of the convention. We don't like hearing there's one more piece of news that's not going to happen at the convention."

Holding a convention without officially choosing a nominee could also anger voters in Kerry's home state. ''People will be inconvenienced for four days, and he isn't even going to accept the nomination," said Dan Payne, a Democratic political consultant.

So far, it sounds like Kerry and his staff have made lots of friends in his hometown from this suggestion. It looks like you've been hoodwinked, Boston Democrats, but don't expect a lot of sympathy from the nation; after all, John Kerry is one of yours. You should have seen this coming. Have fun at the pep rally.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 22, 2004 7:17 AM

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