Democrats Pick Denver For 2008 Convention

By Chris Cillizza
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Friday, January 12, 2007

The Democratic National Committee chose Denver yesterday as the host city for its 2008 nominating convention in hopes that the electoral gains made in the Rocky Mountain West in recent years will help the party win the White House.

Denver, which beat out perennial host New York City, has not had a national convention since 1908. Republicans will hold their convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul -- the first time the Twin Cities have hosted a party convention since the late 19th century.

The Democratic convention is set for Aug. 25-28; Republicans gather Sept. 1-4.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean cast the choice as an extension of his "50-State Strategy" -- a plan designed to rebuild the party from the ground up across the country.

"It's important in politics to put your money where your mouth is," Dean said. "If we are going to have a national party, we are going to get Westerners to vote Democratic again on a regular basis."

In the past two elections, Democrats have made considerable strides in Colorado, winning open-seat races for the House, the Senate and governor. The election of Gov. Bill Ritter in November played a crucial role in swaying the decision by the DNC, according to longtime Colorado consultant Mike Stratton.

"Had he not won, this thing would not have happened," Stratton said.

Since finishing second to Los Angeles in their bid to host the 2000 Democratic convention, Denver officials have focused on making infrastructure improvements. An expanded convention center opened in 2004, and there are now approximately 7,000 hotel rooms in downtown Denver alone.

"This is one of those great opportunities that come along every once in a while," said Denver Mayor John W. Hickenlooper (D), who played a central role in wooing Democrats westward.

The decision comes less than a month after the DNC postponed its final announcement to give Denver an opportunity to settle a labor dispute involving the use of nonunion workers at the Pepsi Center, where the convention will be held.

The Pepsi Center, a nonunion facility, has agreed to use union employees during the convention, which is expected to quell some concerns among local labor leaders.


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