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Anaheim to Bid for '08 Political Conventions

Thirty other cities are competing for the GOP caucus, and 11 want to lure the Democrats.

February 28, 2006|Dave McKibben | Times Staff Writer

Anaheim has been invited to bid for the 2008 Republican and Democratic national conventions, a key step in the city's first-ever attempt to be host to one of the events.

Anaheim is competing with 30 cities vying for the GOP convention and 10 cities hoping to play host to the Democrats. City officials began their lobbying effort at the 2004 national conventions, sending Councilman Richard Chavez to the Democratic convention in Boston and Mayor Curt Pringle to the GOP gathering in New York City.

When Chavez spoke to Democratic National Committee members at a breakfast sponsored by Anaheim, he said many were surprised they were being invited to Orange County, traditionally one of the most conservative counties in California.

"There were more than a few raised eyebrows, but there was also a lot of enthusiasm," he said. "Many people were saying, Why not Anaheim?"

Chavez said Anaheim's selection Monday as one of 11 cities invited to bid for the party's convention showed Democrats weren't bothered by the county's conservative bent.

"I think the Democratic National Committee may see that as an interesting challenge, that they're right in the middle of the opposite party's strength," said Chavez, a Democrat. "Maybe they're thinking a convention here can raise attention and maybe get some voters to switch parties."

Other cities seeking to attract the Democrats are Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Phoenix, San Antonio and Orlando, Fla.

With 5,500 delegates and alternates and thousands of journalists in town, the 2004 convention in Boston pumped an estimated $156 million into the local economy.

The Republican National Committee announced last week that Anaheim was among five California cities invited to bid for the 2008 convention.

The others are Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento.

Officials from both parties plan to narrow their list this summer and visit the finalist cities.

The nonprofit Anaheim 2008 Convention Host Committee, headed by Republican strategist Jeff Flint, has funded the lobbying effort with corporate donations and money from the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau.

The Arrowhead Pond is big enough to handle either convention, while the Anaheim Convention Center would be used for the media and smaller meetings, said Greg Smith, Anaheim's convention, sports and entertainment director.

The 2008 Democratic convention is Aug. 25-28. The Republicans have yet to set a date.

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