Phoenix as political convention site? Comes down to Ariz. politics - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Phoenix as political convention site? Comes down to Ariz. politics

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Posted: Saturday, September 8, 2012 3:45 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – As a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, Mayor Greg Stanton can imagine Phoenix playing host to a 2016 convention. And he doesn’t particularly care which one.

“I think Phoenix would be a great location for either the DNC or the RNC four years from now,” Stanton said this week. “As mayor I want to be actively involved.”

Stanton and other delegates were quick to list the city’s attributes, starting with an expanded Phoenix Convention Center and continuing through US Airways Center, Chase Field, ample hotels and the light-rail system.

“We have the facilities necessary for success,” Stanton said.

Phoenix was a finalist for this year’s Republican National Convention but was beaten out by Tampa, Fla.

U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Phoenix, was enthusiastic about Phoenix’s prospects for 2016.

“I think we have a good shot,” he said.

Kate Gallego, one of three Arizonans on the Democratic National Committee, said a city must be able to show it meets specific requirements for facilities and infrastructure to compete for selection.

“We want to make sure we are out there educating DNC members about what our city has to offer,” said Gallego, wife of state Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix.

Attributes aside, Phoenix’s chances for 2016 likely depend on whether the parties consider Arizona in play. North Carolina and Florida are considered swing states this year.

If Arizona fares well for Democrats in November, it could be a contender for a Democratic National Convention in 2016, said Joe Garcia, director of the Latino Public Policy Center at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

“No. 1 reason they choose a city is because it is in a key battleground state,” he said.

He said the state’s growing Latino population, a voting bloc courted by both parties, could help Phoenix’s case for a convention. So could the close presidential race between President Barack Obama and Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008 and Arizona’s rising national standing, he said.

“Arizona could really come into play,” Garcia said.

The state has not voted Democratic in a presidential election since 1996, when President Bill Clinton was seeking a second term. And that was the first time since 1952.

Carolyn Warner, former state schools superintendent and current Democratic National Committeewoman, said in order to land a Democratic convention in 2016 the state must show that it’s shifting left when the votes are counted in November.

“If our political environment does not change dramatically in this election then we will not stand much of a chance,” she said. “If we are able to manifest strength and growth in the party, then we will be contenders.”

Tim Sifert, spokesman for the Arizona Republican Party, said the GOP is very interested in hosting its next convention in Arizona but hasn’t announced any specifics.

“Arizona has a lot to offer, and our strong Republican values show that Arizona is a great model for the entire country,” Sifert said in an email.

One thing Stanton doesn’t want working against Phoenix is an erroneous impression that delegates couldn’t handle the summer heat.

“So my polite suggestion and request to both the DNC and the RNC … just because it’s hot in August, don’t write off Phoenix,” he said.

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