Rendell could help attract 2016 Democratic National Convention, official says

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 4.59.11 PM
Former Governor Ed Rendell. Credit: Design Philadelphia.

Councilman Jim Kenney wants the Democratic National Convention to touch down in Philadelphia in 2016, and he suggested former Philadelphia mayor and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell should chair the committee tasked to attract it.

On Thursday Kenney called for City Council to put its hat in the ring because, Kenney said, the mayor won’t.

“I have concerns that (Nutter administration) slow-rolled this,” he said.

According to Kenney, Nutter was sent a letter last week from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, asking the city to host the event. But Kenney said there was no official response from Nutter expressing interest.

Shortly after Kenney submitted his request Thursday, Mayor Nutter’s press secretary distributed a letter from Nutter to Schultz.

In the letter Nutter thanked Schultz for her interest, and asked for her to accept the letter and an email he sent earlier as a “Formal expression of interest” in potentially hosting the convention.

“There is no doubt that Philadelphia’s rich history, cultural vitality, diverse communities, and growing population would provide an ideal backdrop for the Democratic Party’s Convention in 2016,” according to the letter. “We will continue to do our due diligence in assessing the requirements to hold the Democratic National Convention and we look forward to receiving the official RFP.”

The deadline to express interest in hosting the 2016 convention is Saturday.

Councilwoman Marian Tasco said she would personally deliver Nutter’s letter to Washington D.C. Thursday afternoon.

Kenney said the mayor has turned down other advances to host the convention in past years. He added that Congressman Bob Brady was concerned about the lack of communication with him, who’s part of a group lobbying for the convention to be set in Philly.

Kenney said Brady felt Nutter was purposely running out the clock, “To get by Saturday and then have an excuse not to do it.”

“All (the Nutter administration) has to do is communicate with people and respond in a timely fashion,” Kenney said. “The indications we’ve gotten from this administration is it’s not one of their big priorities.”

He added that when looking at the city’s hotel occupancy in 2016 and the lack of conventions scheduled, “This should be a No. 1 priority.”

With Hilary Clinton as the presumptive favorite  to earn the presidential nomination, he said, “What do you think the press interest in that would be, the first woman president of the United States?”

He said there are no incumbents, so “this is an open scene with Hilary Clinton as the favorite. This is something you should be standing on your head on Broad Street making sure we get.”

As for the local committee challenged with championing the city, “I would love to see someone like Ed Rendell chair it,” Kenney added.

“I can’t think of a better person than Ed Rendell,” he added. “Or someone like him, but there’s really no one like him.”

Kenney said he has not reached out to Rendell.

Rendell was not immediately available for comment.

Kenney said he wants people who can get this done, “Or at least put the best case forward.”

The city hosted the convention in 2000.

National conventions for both the Democratic and Republican parties are held every four years and are where presidential candidates are nominated.

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