Floor fights have become a rarity at the quadrennial convention of the Democratic Party, but the fight over just where that floor will be in 2016 is going to be fierce.
Pittsburgh’s leaders need to jump into that fight with both feet.
Mayor Bill Peduto expressed preliminary interest in hosting the Democratic National Convention when he submitted a letter in March to the Democratic National Committee. Last week, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the committee’s chair, sent a request for formal proposals to 15 cities, including Pittsburgh.
This city, with Allegheny County, is in a position to offer just what the convention planners need. It has more than enough hotel rooms, with even more planned that will be open in time for the event.
The Consol Energy Center is a state-of-the-art facility that could handle the conventioneers and the huge media presence that will accompany them. The city is within easy driving distance of the nation’s capital, and it has experience handling major events — the 2009 G-20 Summit is mentioned most often, but planners should not overlook the fact that the city regularly handles a large influx of visitors every time the Steelers play at Heinz Field.
And Pittsburgh is notoriously friendly to the Democratic Party, which has held the reins of power for decades.
The city has much to offer and much to gain, both in visibility on a national stage and in dollars to be spent by convention-goers while the event is occurring and by convention planners during the months leading up to it.
It’s going to take hard work to win the competition, but working hard to overcome big obstacles is the story of Pittsburgh itself, and that should be a solid selling point.
Naturally, a key to putting together an enticing package will be figuring out how to pay for the convention, and it’s understandable for Mr. Peduto to want to know the price tag. At this point, however, more enthusiasm and less anxiety seems appropriate.
City taxpayers can’t be expected to fund a political convention of either party, but substantial benefits would accrue to the region, the state and to local businesses if the Democrats (or Republicans some other year) come to town. The whole region must join the effort to cement Pittsburgh’s reputation as a place where all things are possible.