Thursday, January 11, 2007

Democrats Loom Over Denver

The Washington Post reports:

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.


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, Democratic Party chairman Howard 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 taking the last major obstacle off the table.

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 of victory in that region.

The decision followed speculation that Democrat special interests would prevent Denver from hosting:

(Washington Times) There's a reason Denver hasn't hosted the Democratic National Convention in almost 100 years: It's just not a union-friendly town.

That much became evident after the Democratic National Committee (DNC) again postponed its decision on whether Denver or New York will be the venue for its 2008 convention, thanks to a recent labor uprising in the Mile High City.

With all the labor trouble in Denver, Democrats might be tempted to scrap the whole idea and head for New York, but there's trouble in the Big Apple, too. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg hinted that he doesn't want to host the event, saying that the city was tapped out after hosting the Republican National Convention in 2004.


The delay puts Democrats months behind Republicans, who announced in September that their convention would be held in Minneapolis-St. Paul and have even sent out press kits.

It looked as if Denver had clinched the convention bid last fall, when the host committee finally persuaded a local hotel to sign a union agreement. Until then, Denver had no union hotels, a deal-breaker for the Democrats, who count organized labor as a key component of their political coalition.

Enter Jim Taylor, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local No. 7, who threatened to strike during the convention unless organizers pulled out of the Pepsi Center, the proposed site for most of the convention meetings.

Mr. Taylor says the Pepsi Center is "anti-union," noting that it doesn't contract with organized labor. The Pepsi Center, home to both the Colorado Avalanche hockey team and Denver Nuggets basketball team, is owned by Stan Kroenke, who's married to Wal-Mart heiress Anne Walton.

Although Democrats may be willing to overlook the irony of holding their convention at a facility owned by the Wal-Mart family, widely regarded as the chief scourge of the modern labor movement, it appears that Mr. Taylor isn't.

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