(NEW YORK) -- It may only be 2014, but big corporate money and politics are already at work in a bid to secure the 2016 Democratic convention for Brooklyn, with New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio literally rolling out a red carpet for DNC officials at New York’s Penn Station. Republicans have already chosen Cleveland as their 2016 site, but Democratic party officials are still making the rounds of competing cities, spending two days this week being lavishly wined and dined in New York.
Traffic slowed as DNC officials traveled through the city on dedicated lanes that will be in effect if the convention comes to Brooklyn. They were also treated to a barbecue at Gracie Mansion and a rooftop party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Empire State Building was lit up in blue in honor of the visit, and banners on Brooklyn’s Barclays Center read “DNC 2016 NYC.”
A host committee of 70 prominent New Yorkers have pledged to raise $100 million to support the convention and parties that surround it, including JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, and celebrities like Cynthia Nixon.
“We have a lot of people in this town who provide a lot of support for the Democratic Party, and the resources will be there,” de Blasio told reporters Wednesday.
The mayor’s office believes the city would surpass the $255 million Republicans brought in when they held their convention in Manhattan in 2004. De Blasio said that amount of money will be recouped “many times over” because of the financial impact of the convention.
“You are talking about people coming in from all over the country, all over the world…tens of thousands of people coming to the city, many for the first time,” de Blasio said.
Longtime Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf noted the “business” of the convention is not what gets done inside the hall, but “after hours at the parties and private meetings,” and with a four-day convention there will be plenty of party time and no lack of venues.
“It will be a terrific economic boost,” Sheinkopf said. But how much the city makes, he added, will need to be considered with “how much does it cost for additional security, traffic, additional city workers” and other costs related to events.
Sheila Krumholz, campaign finance watchdog and executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said the real question for conventions is whether it is “money well spent.”
“Historically there have been a lot of resources invested and not a lot of money recouped,” Krumholz said. “Often those who make out best are the corporate and in kind sponsors who will have the gratitude of the party, but are less valuable to the public and more so to the corporations that have a chit to call in when they need a favor returned.”
The two-day wooing included lots of wining and dining at spots in both Brooklyn and Manhattan, as well as the business of the scouting trip, which included the DNC’s technical advisory committee visiting the Barclays Center to examine issues like hotel space and security.
Sheinkopf said with or without the convention New York City is a “power place no matter what,” but it will add “prestige to the mayor and adds to the city’s coffers,” as well as a likely political bump for de Blasio if all goes smoothly.
“He can run for re-election and say, ‘Look what I did for New York,’” Sheinkopf said, adding that the money it will bring in is something de Blasio can also run on, saying a successful convention, especially a financially successful one, could be an “overriding argument” for re-election.
New York is up against Birmingham, Alabama; Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; and Philadelphia, where the 15-member DNC team led by DNC CEO Amy Dacey are scouting next. Philadelphia is thought to have an edge because it’s still viewed as a swing state, where conventions are traditionally held.
A decision from the Democratic National Committee is expected in late 2014 or early 2015.
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