U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, kicked off events leading to the party’s national convention next year in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a reminder that the state went for Barack Obama in 2008.
“I don’t have to tell you how important North Carolina is going to be to the next presidential election,” she told a crowd at the Time Warner Cable Arena, location of the Democratic National Convention in 2012. “Together we’ll keep North Carolina blue.”
The convention will run the week of September 3, 2012, and Charlotte expects 35,000 people to attend — mostly delegates to the convention, but also reporters, TV producers and others. The economic impact for Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, is an estimated $150 million.
The Democratic National Convention Committee is raising $37 million to set up facilities and to operate the sprawling, complex gathering that is a modern political convention. Much of the money will go to setting up necessary technology in what is now a basketball arena.
Harvey Gantt, a former mayor of the city, noted that the Democratic Party is not accepting corporation donations or money from lobbyists, and it will limit donations by individuals to no more than $100,000. This is, he said, “the first convention in history to be funded by the people.”
Getting the convention is an endorsement of the Charlotte’s rise in prominence and an opportunity to show the nation all the city offers.
“Charlotte’s selection clearly elevates our city to a new level in national and world stature,” Duke Energy Corp. CEO Jim Rogers, who helped bring the convention to North Carolina, said earlier this year when the Democratic Party announced the location. “Only a few singular events in the U.S. rival the domestic and worldwide media exposure of a major political convention: a presidential inauguration, a royal wedding, the Super Bowl and the Olympics. The economic and reputational significance of being chosen for this honor cannot be overstated.”