Convention Clusterfark Bad Omen for Dems?

According to the lefty Talking Points Memo site, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is the latest Democrat to bail on her party’s presidential convention:

“In years when Claire is on the ballot, she has historically not gone to the convention,” the aide said, “because she believes it’s important to stay in Missouri to talk to voters.”

The aide stressed that McCaskill did not attend the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when she was running for governor of Missouri.


Interesting comparison to that convention; and more on past conventions in just a moment. But first, let’s do a head count. Are we up to seven Democrats now? Last Wednesday, The Daily reported, “At least half a dozen Democratic officials have said in recent days that they won’t attend the Democratic National Convention this September in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the president will formally receive the party’s nomination for a second term:”

The latest: New York Democratic Reps. Bill Owens and Kathy Hochul, both of whom won special elections in recent years – in 2009 and 2011, respectively – that were heralded by party leaders.

“I guarantee that my time will be better spent meeting the farmers, small business owners and other people who put me here,” Hochul told The Daily today.

A spokesman for Owens gave a similar explanation.

“He just has a packed schedule back home,” he said.

This comes on the heels of Pennsylvania Rep. Mark Critz saying he’d opt out, and a trio of West Virginia Democrats — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Sen. Joe Manchin and Rep. Nick Rahall — all doing the same. Even though most of the convention-skippers have claimed they’d simply rather spend time back home, the political undertones are clear. After all, these Democrats share one thing in common: They answer to a conservative-leaning electorate that, at best, views Obama with a great deal of skepticism.

So skipping a late-summer convention that doubles as a love-fest for Obama is something of a political no-brainer, especially considering the fact that a week full of extravagant parties doesn’t make for the best optics with the country still in the midst of a fragile economic recovery.

“It’s an easy way to make a statement that you’re independent,” said Democratic strategist Steve Murphy. “There are tight districts where Obama’s not doing particularly well, and it makes sense from a political perspective for these folks. But I’m not sure how much difference it makes. After all, they’re going to have to defend their voting records either way.”


Perhaps the reduction in attendees isn’t just limited to vulnerable politicians.  “Facing a major deficit, Democrats are scaling back on their convention festivities,” Erika Johnsen writes at Hot Air:

Democrats canceled a political convention kick-off event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and will move the activities to Charlotte’s main business district, the convention’s host committee announced. …

The move comes as party planners are grappling with a fundraising deficit of roughly $27 million, according to two people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss internal party politics. With a party ban on direct contributions from corporations, the host committee has raised less than $10 million, well short of its $36.6 million goal, said one of the people. …

In January, Steve Kerrigan, chief executive officer of the convention committee, said that Democrats were shortening their convention from four days to three “to make room for a day to organize and celebrate the Carolinas, Virginia and the South and kick off the convention at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Labor Day,” Sept. 3.

Kerrigan also announced that Obama would accept his party’s nomination at the almost 74,000-seat Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers professional football team. The outdoor finale would echo Obama’s convention speech at Invesco Field in Denver four years ago. …

Republicans have not placed any restrictions on where they raise money and have secured corporate contributions from such companies as AT&T Inc. (T), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Coca-Cola Co. (KO) to meet their $55 million target.


As Big Government’s John Sexton adds:

Of course the Charlotte Motor Speedway hasn’t moved since January, so why is this just becoming a problem now? Bloomberg News has the answer. “With a party ban on direct contributions from corporations, the host committee has raised less than $10 million, well short of its $36.6 million goal…” Ouch! Less than ten million is bad. It’s also vague. How much less than ten million did they raise?

With Democrats unable to raise even one-third of their fundraising goal, they were forced to cut a few more corners off their already stunted convention. They’ll need whatever money is left to outfit the 74,000 seat Carolina Panthers football stadium for Obama’s nomination acceptance speech. Hopefully Britney Spears’ set designer can come up with another colonnade of Doric columns on the cheap.

Usually any shortfalls in corporate campaign cash are quickly made up for by the Democrats’ union friends. In this case, that’s not happening because of more poor planning by Democrats. North Carolina is a right-to-work state, so unions “have been reluctant to contribute to the convention because Charlotte lacks unionized hotels and is in a state where compulsory union membership or the payment of dues is prohibited as an employment condition.”

When Hurricane Gustav slammed through the Gulf states in late August of 2008 and caused the GOP to lose a day of their presidential convention, Michael Moore and Don Fowler, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, both bragged that it was proof that, as Fowler was caught on video uttering, “This just proves that God is on our side.” So if that presidential convention woes are a precursor to disaster in November of 2008, what to make of this year’s clusterfark on the opposite side of the aisle?



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