Facing a major deficit, Democrats are scaling back on their convention festivities

posted at 10:41 am on June 26, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Well, ain’t that a darn shame! With their convention just over two months away, the Democratic National Committee’s party planners are about $27 million smackers short of their fundraising goal — which means that they’re finding it suddenly necessary to cut down on some of the initially planned bells and whistles of their party’s main event.

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.

It wouldn’t be funny, except that they dreamed so big — President Obama, for example, felt that he wouldn’t be able to confine his self-glorification to anything less than a gigantic football stadium — and they’re finding themselves forced to realize that even celebrations of President Obama’s magnanimity are built on budgets, not enthusiastic projections of grandeur. Kind of strangely similar to how they run the government, huh?

And of course, it looks like their high and mighty decision to decline contributions from — quelle horreur — eeeevil corporations hasn’t done much to inspire ‘the little people’ to pick up the fundraising slack. (Also, President Obama’s nomination acceptance is going down in the Bank of America stadium. Uhm, hello?! Conflicting messages, much? Oh, that’s right, those eeeevil corporations and big banks and whatnot are the ones who do such eeeeevil things as build football stadiums. It much be such a troublesome paradox for those high-minded populists.) Whether it’s more because of their self-imposed corporate donation limits or whether people are just generally unable or unwilling to give, it definitely doesn’t feel like they’ve been able to drum up the same level of riotous enthusiasm  as 2008, and it does not bode well for them. Sad face.

The Democrats are of course claiming that the move has more to do with logistics than money, but after announcing they were scaling back their convention from four days to three in January, and with some Democratic politicians starting to pointedly announce that they’ll have better things to do than attend the DNC convention, I wonder if they shouldn’t be feeling a little sheepish. The Democrats chose North Carolina in part because it’s an in-play swing state and they wanted to engage and excite the whole city, but it’s turning into kind of a nightmare — the hits just keep on coming.


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