Chicago declines to bid for Democratic convention: Inside story

Written By Lynn Sweet Posted: 06/08/2014, 09:11am

WASHINGTON —Mayor Rahm Emanuel finally slammed–really shut for good– the door on bidding for either of the 2016 political conventions, with the Democratic National Committee on Saturday announcing that only six cities submitted bids–with Chicago not on list. The cities in the running are Birmingham, Cleveland, Columbus, Philadelphia, Phoenix and New York, with a Brooklyn site.

Background: Last Feb. 26, I reported that Chicago was not going to bid for either the Democratic or Republican convention unless the parties agreed to hold the events in the same city, which was not going to happen for 2016.

On April 22, I reported that Emanuel opened the door for the city to bid on the Democratic convention. But I learned later that Emanuel never had any intention of mustering a bid but allowed the word to go out that Chicago may be intererested as a favor  to the DNC, which is chaired by his friend, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz D-Fl. The DNC wanted Chicago to be seen as in the mix  in order to try to up the ante for the other cities who really did want to host the event.

In a statement issued Saturday, Wasserman Schultz said, “Hosting a party convention is a true honor and we’re thrilled with all the fantastic options that we have going into the next cycle,” said Wasserman Schultz. “We look forward to evaluating these bids and selecting a city to host this special gathering of Democrats.”

The DNC said a decision should be announced by late 2014 or early 2015.

Both the DNC and the Republican National Committee require an enormous financial package from a host city — multi-millions of dollars — to pay for a variety of activities and services, including throwing in the venue itself.

In a Feb. 7 letter,  Wasserman Schultz  solicited about 30 cities, including Chicago, asking for a reply in writing by March 1 if the city wanted to pursue a formal bid.

Chicago never sent in a written reply by the March deadline. Still, the DNC sent a formal “request for proposal” to 15 cities, including Chicago in order to keep the illusion alive that Chicago was a potential bidder. In the end, only six cities were interested.

The RNC, ahead of the DNC in the selection process sliced its list down to Dallas, Denver, Cleveland, and Kansas City, Missouri, with  Las Vegas and Cincinnati not making the cut.

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