Convention parties to pump up Charlotte economy
Posted August 30, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Party activists – not to mention party planners – are putting the final touches on preparations for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next week.
Even though the convention doesn't officially start until Tuesday, some events started this week, and the party circuit gets underway this weekend.
"Our delegation is hosting a welcome party at the NASCAR Hall of Fame with some of our surrounding states," said Walton Robinson, spokesman for the North Carolina Democratic Party. "A lot of our delegates are excited about that. It's the first thing they get to do."
Delegates also are looking forward to hearing from speakers like former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, schmoozing with celebrities like Eva Longoria and attending concerts by James Taylor and John Legend, Robinson said.
The biggest-ticket parties are expected to be hosted by technology giants Google and Facebook.
"It's not all fun and games, but it's mostly fun and games," he said, noting that the delegation will hold caucus meetings and conduct some official business while in Charlotte.
About 35,000 people will take part in the convention, and the North Carolina delegation of more than 180 people is likely under the biggest pressure to ensure the event is a success.
"We definitely want to show up strong," Robinson said.
The event is expected to pump a lot of money into Charlotte's economy. Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said that's good news, regardless of politics.
"Everybody in North Carolina – Republican, Democrat or independent – should be very proud that this convention is coming to North Carolina. It puts North Carolina and Charlotte on a world stage," Dalton said.
He said he will have "a significant speaking role" at the convention, but he couldn't yet say when he would be at the podium. He will also appear Monday with Gov. Beverly Perdue at CarolinaFest, a public party in downtown Charlotte.
The convention wraps up next Thursday, when President Barack Obama accepts the nomination to seek a second term at Bank of America Stadium. Thousands of tickets to the speech have been given away, mostly to North Carolina volunteers.
"We want them to see President Obama, but we also want to get them registered, get them signed up to knock on doors and make phone calls," Robinson said. "We can use the enthusiasm that's created by that speech to make a push toward the November election."