Brady heads effort to lure Democratic convention to Phila.

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady is behind the plan to share revenue. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
U.S. Rep. Bob Brady is behind the plan to share revenue. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: August 09, 2013

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady wants to bring the Democratic National Convention - a huge economic boon, but also a complicated, expensive event - to Philadelphia for the first time since 1948.

Brady, the city's Democratic Party boss, convened a group of the region's political, labor, and other leaders Wednesday morning at the Union League to discuss the effort.

Notably absent from the gathering was Mayor Nutter, who later expressed his "enthusiasm about the possibility and the prospect of the city hosting another national party convention."

"I told the mayor I would be his person inside that room," Brady said. "We have to show him the cost factors, that they're nowhere near what people thought they may be."

Brady said he did not think any taxpayer money would be necessary to host the 2016 convention. The costs, he said, could be covered with donations and federal security grants made available after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Philadelphia hosted the 2000 Republican convention, at which George W. Bush was nominated. A federal filing from the city's host committee showed the event cost $66 million, with nearly $39 million coming from regional taxpayers. Police services alone cost the city $10 million.

With the city in a budget crunch since the recession, Nutter has been charging the organizers of most privately run events for the cost of city services, such as police overtime and sanitation.

"I'd love for the city to be the host in 2016," Nutter said Wednesday afternoon. "I have no doubt in my mind that we have the capacity, the expertise, and of course the venues."

Nutter said that the process of bidding for the convention was just beginning, and that he did have concerns about the cost and security for such a big, high-profile event.

"We have a lot of work to do and a lot of steps to take," the mayor said. "How much does it really cost? What kind of fund-raising apparatus do you have to put together?"

A nonprofit would have to be formed, Brady said, and raise about $30 million to $40 million. The Democratic National Committee plans to seek bids from potential host cities in September, he said.

Brady and others at the meeting said the convention could feed more than $300 million into the regional economy.

Several of the attendees at the meeting said it was not clear which other cities would compete for the convention, but Philadelphia likely would be the largest city in the running.

Among the people at the meeting were Josh Shapiro, chair of the Montgomery County commissioners; City Council President Darrell L. Clarke; and State Sens. Vincent Hughes and Anthony Hardy Williams, both Philadelphia Democrats.

Williams said the convention was "not only something the city can do, it's something the city should do."

"The question that was left on the table was how diverse an economy would be included," he said. "We need to have a plan so if there's going to be a benefit to Philadelphia economically that all neighborhoods for the first time" benefit.

John J. Dougherty, leader of the electricians union Local 98, also attended the meeting.

He said the city has several advantages for attracting the convention, including being "one of the last great building-trades towns in America" and having a party structure that could ensure a "400,000-vote plurality."

"Purely from the old-school political side, if I'm a Democratic candidate running for president, I'd have Philadelphia at the top of my list," he said.


Contact Troy Graham at 215-854-2730 or tgraham@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @troyjgraham.

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