Democrats have selected Philadelphia as the site of the party's 2016 national convention, choosing a patriotic backdrop for the nomination of its next presidential candidate.
The Democratic National Committee said Thursday the convention will be held the week of July 25, 2016. The two other finalists were Brooklyn, New York, and Columbus, Ohio.
"There is clearly no better city to have this special event than Philadelphia. The role of Philadelphia in shaping our nation's history is unmatched," said Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chair.
The site could serve as a passing of the baton from President Barack Obama to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the leading contender for the party's nomination should she run for president, as is widely expected.
The event will come the week after Republicans hold their national convention in Cleveland. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said the convention is expected to cost $84 million. "We're confident that we can raise that," he said.
Organizers plan to hold it at the Wells Fargo Center, the home of the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers and NHL's Philadelphia Flyers, with events also at the city's convention center.
The Wells Fargo Center is part of a sports complex that includes Citizen's Bank Park, home of baseball's Philadelphia Phillies, and Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, giving Democrats the option of staging its final night in an open air venue. Obama delivered his acceptance speech in 2008 at Denver's Invesco Field at Mile High.
For Democrats, the choice came down to whether to set the stage for the next nominee in a big city or in another closely contested state. Obama's campaign used the convention cities of Denver in 2008 and Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2012 to aggressively register new voters and recruit volunteers in states crucial to his political map.
Democrats bypassed New York, which is expected to be the headquarters of Clinton's campaign, and Columbus, the capital of one of the most contested states in recent presidential elections.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had promoted his home borough of Brooklyn as an ideal location for the convention and stressed the city's large network of financial donors who would help underwrite the event.
Asked if recent tensions between de Blasio and members of the New York Police Department hurt the city's cause, Wasserman Schultz said the decision was based solely on logistics, security and resources. "Extraneous issues were not a factor whatsoever," she said.
Columbus said it would have offered a fitting location to respond to the Republican gathering in Cleveland, ahead of the fall campaign. The last Democrat to win the White House without carrying Ohio was John F. Kennedy in 1960, and no Republican ever has.
Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman said the city would try to land a political convention in 2020.
Philadelphia's organizers pointed to the city's heritage as the home of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were adopted, along with its convenient East Coast location and compact, easy-to-navigate community.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said the city has a "proven track record of hosting big events safely and efficiently" and offered "tremendous amenities, its accessible location and historical significance." The city held Democratic conventions in 1948 during Harry S. Truman's presidency and in 1936, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated for the second time.
Philadelphia, which has 11,600 hotel rooms downtown, has been the home to a variety of large events and played host to the Republican convention in 2000. The Vatican chose Philadelphia as the site for the World Meeting of Families, which Pope Francis will attend in September.
Clinton also has ties to Pennsylvania. Her father was born in Scranton and she has allies in the state such as Rendell, an ex-chairman of the DNC and a former Philadelphia mayor. Democrats have carried Pennsylvania in every presidential election since 1992.
Hosting a nominating convention, however, is not a guarantee for carrying the state. For the 29 nominating conventions held since 1900, each party has carried the hosting state 15 times and lost it 14 times.
In more recent years, it is equally as mixed. In the 14 conventions since 1960, Democrats have split their host states, winning seven and losing seven. Republicans are roughly equal, winning six host states and losing eight.
Luck has been a bit better for Democrats since the 1992 convention in New York that nominated Bill Clinton for the first time. Democrats have carried host states five of the six times, while Republicans have lost five of the six host states. The last time Republicans carried their host state was 1992, when George H.W. Bush was nominated for his second term in Houston.
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