Democrats to hold 2012 convention in Charlotte, not MinneapolisMinneaplis Mayor R.T. Rybak says he's disappointed, but he says Minneapolis proved itself capable of hosting a major event simply by being a finalist.
By: Liz Sidoti, Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Democrats will hold their 2012 nominating convention in Charlotte, N.C., instead of Minneapolis.
Minneapolis, which was also a finalist for the 2012 Democratic convention, was passed over ad convention host.
Minneaplis Mayor R.T. Rybak says he's disappointed, but he says Minneapolis proved itself capable of hosting a major event simply by being a finalist. He vowed the city would continue competing for such events in the future.
St. Paul hosted the Republican National Convention in 2008. The event showcased the city but was also marred by street violence and the arrests of hundreds of protesters.
In choosing Charlotte for the party's 46th convention, the Democratic National Committee rejected bids from Minneapolis, Cleveland and St. Louis, three Midwestern cities that have been hit hard by the recession.
In St. Louis, Mayor Francis Slay's chief of staff, Jeff Rainford, said the decision came down to which city would go further in helping Obama carry states in the South.
"They clearly made the decision based on electoral politics, not who is the best place to hold a convention with excellent hotels and restaurants," he said.
President Barack Obama narrowly won North Carolina in the 2008 election. The choice of Charlotte indicates Democrats are eager to contest the state and others in the conservative-leaning South.
The selection of Charlotte was interpreted by analysts as a sign that Obama plans to aggressively compete in traditionally Republican states that he won during his first presidential campaign by cobbling together a diverse cross-section of voters. And the apparent theme — The People's Convention — indicated that the president will attempt to rekindle the grass-roots flavor of his ground-breaking 2008 bid.
First Lady Michelle Obama disclosed the selection to campaign supporters in an e-mail today, another step in the president's recent efforts to ramp up his re-election preparations.
"Charlotte is a city marked by its southern charm, warm hospitality, and an 'up by the bootstraps' mentality that has propelled the city forward as one of the fastest-growing in the South," she said. "Vibrant, diverse, and full of opportunity, the Queen City is home to innovative, hardworking folks with big hearts and open minds. And of course, great barbecue."
She signaled that the gathering would be "a grassroots convention for the people" and promised to finance the convention differently than has been done in the past but provided no specifics on either point.
"This will be a different convention, for a different time," she said.
A personally popular incumbent, Obama is virtually assured of being nominated again; he faces no serious primary challenger.
In an e-mail to backers, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine answered speculation that Obama would choose a different running mate for 2012, saying the party was looking forward to nominating both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for a second term.
Democrats will hold their convention the week of Sept. 3, 2012. A week earlier, Republicans will nominate their candidate in Tampa, Fla., another important presidential state, after a primary fight to sort out a potentially crowded GOP field.
North Carolina officials estimate the convention will attract an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 delegates, media members and political leaders.
"The economic and reputational significance of being chosen for this honor cannot be overstated," said Duke Energy Corp. CEO Jim Rogers, a co-chairman of the Charlotte In 2012 organizing committee.
North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue said in a statement that the event will boost North Carolina's economy while showcasing the state.
"Today's decision is fantastic news for North Carolina regardless of your political party," she said.
Associated Press Writers Mike Baker in Raleigh, N.C., and Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed to this report.