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January 12, 2007
Democrats Made A Good Decision

The Democrats selected Denver as their host city for their 2008 national convention, bypassing New York City in order to bolster their Western credentials. The move reflects shifting fortunes for both parties and follows Howard Dean's efforts to build national credibility for the Democrats:

The Democratic Party chose Denver over New York on Thursday as the site for its next national convention, capping months of debate about which city had better logistics, deeper pockets and a more compelling backdrop to frame the party’s message.

“If we’re going to have a national party, we’re going to have to have Westerners vote for us on a consistent basis,” the Democratic national chairman, Howard Dean, said in a telephone news conference. “At the end of the day,” Mr. Dean added, “that’s what tipped it to Denver.”

Denver economic development officials said that by one important measure, the convention, to be held Aug. 25-28, 2008, would be the biggest gathering in the city’s history, with 35,000 people spending hundreds of millions of dollars on food, drink and places to sleep.

No national political convention has been held in Denver in nearly a century, since Democrats gathered here in 1908 and bestowed their presidential nomination on William Jennings Bryan, who went on to lose the election to William Howard Taft. But Western Democrats — led by Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado, Mayor John W. Hickenlooper of Denver and the new Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada — argued throughout their party’s selection process that the shifting demographics of the region, where Democrats have made big gains, was a strong suit in Denver’s bid.

The selection has its drawbacks. As the Times notes, the recent Democratic gains in the West have mostly come from nontraditional Democrats. In order to win west of the Plains, Democrats have to find candidates who can appeal to more conservative, independent-minded people wary of big government solutions. They also find themselves far from Big Labor's stomping grounds in the Rust Belt and the Northeast. In fact, the fact that they selected the non-union Pepsi Center for their venue may still derail the entire bid.

New York would have eliminated most of those issues. Democrats in New York fit the Nancy Pelosi/Hillary Clinton model quite nicely. The media center of the Big Apple would have amplified the messages of the convention, and the facilities are second to none. I attended the Republican convention in 2004, and I can attest to New York's ability to stage an impressive event, and to provide equally impressive security.

However, the Democrats hardly need to woo New York. The Democrats have a lock on the entire state and certainly the city. With a new Congressional majority to protect and to expand, the Democrats need to engage on the frontier of their popularity, and Colorado makes perfect sense for that effort. They captured one of the Senate seats of the state in a mild 2004 surprise, so Colorado certainly seems in play for a possible takeaway for the Democrats. They have the chance now to stage a Western variety show, making the case for their "big tent" by celebrating their Western Congressional freshmen and helping them to get re-elected.

The move is similar to the GOP's decision to hold their convention in the Twin Cities. Both parties want to reach out to smaller cities in an attempt to poach on the other's turf. Frankly, the Democrats have the opportunity to score more in Denver than the Republicans might in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.. It's a smart move, and it shows that the GOP has to work on its election strategies quickly -- because we're not going to be able to count on many missteps from the Democrats.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 12, 2007 5:07 AM

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