Decisions coming soon on Democratic convention host

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     Former Gov. Ed Rendell, co-chairman of the committee lobbying for the Democratic National Convention to be held in Philadelphia, says committee members will be going to Washington, D.C., to continue making their case. (AP file photo)

    Former Gov. Ed Rendell, co-chairman of the committee lobbying for the Democratic National Convention to be held in Philadelphia, says committee members will be going to Washington, D.C., to continue making their case. (AP file photo)

    A decision is expected by early next month on whether Philadelphia will host the Democratic presidential convention next year. The city is competing with Brooklyn and Columbus, Ohio.

     

    Former Gov. Ed Rendell told me the staff of Philadelphia’s host committee is headed to Washington to talk (which I think means “negotiate”) with the staff of the Democratic National Committee staff about the details of the city’s convention proposal. He expects the same is happening with the teams representing Brooklyn and Columbus.

    Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chairs Democratic National Committee, is expected to visit Philadelphia this month. The DNC site selection committee spent several days in Philadelphia in August, but she missed that trip.

    U.S. Rep. Bob Brady of Philadelphia told me he’s been shadowing Wasserman Schultz for weeks, bending her ear every chance he gets about bringing the convention to Philly.

    “When I go on the [House] floor, I look for her right away,” Brady said. “When she goes on the floor, she looks at me and says, ‘Here I am,’ and I come running over and we chat. Every day, every day I just keep smiling at her and stay on top of it, just keep lobbying.”

    Rendell, a former DNC chairman, said he thinks the final decision will come down to a host of details about security, logistics, and money. “I think it’s going to come down to not politics, but who they think can run the most successful convention,” he said.

    Go Columbus

    But I’m most intrigued with the efforts of Columbus, Ohio.

    Scan the media in Columbus, and it’s hard not to be reminded of Philadelphia’s effort to get a national convention in 2000.

    There’s a real sense of excitement, that business and civic leaders are unified and determined to prove their city’s worth and seize the national spotlight. Columbus  convention and visitors bureau president Brian Ross told me in a phone interview there’s a lot the nation doesn’t know about Columbus.

    “We are the 15th largest city in the nation,” Ross said. “We are the largest city in Ohio, which a lot of people do not know, and one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation.”

    He’s right. I figured Cincinnati or Cleveland would be Ohio’s largest city. Turns out Columbus is bigger than both combined.

    So Columbus really wants this. A local gourmet ice cream maker has sent a special flavor, White House blueberry, to anyone with perceived leverage in selecting a site.

    I have to say, I’m kinda rooting for them. I think Philadelphia is a great city, but a lot of people know it already, and I’m not so sure raising $85 million (in mostly private funds) to bring the Democrats here is going to bring us that much of a marginal benefit.

    Columbus, it seems, has a story to tell, like Philadelphia did at the end of the 1990s when we’d emerged from fiscal collapse and had some exciting things going.

    Brooklyn is also in the competition. We should know who wins the prize next month.

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