DNC 1-Year Countdown Begins
Mayor Anthony Foxx and supporters at DNC 2012 kick-off. Charlotte boosters are now counting down the days until they host the Democratic National Convention exactly one year from now. Fanfare and political enthusiasm for the convention were abundant at a kick-off event today. But the messages coming out of the organizing effort are mixed. From the day the Democratic National Committee chose Charlotte, local officials have repeatedly said, "This isn't about politics. It's about Charlotte." Today, former Mayor Harvey Gantt said exactly that at the event marking one-year until the Democratic Convention comes to Charlotte. But only a few minutes before, organizers were leading the audience in a familiar political chant of "Yes We Can!" The majority of some 1,300 people at the event were Democratic Party members and Obama loyalists. The Charlotte Chamber also had a large contingent of members there - many of them hoping to cash in on convention-related business opportunities. The event was a decidedly political rally - despite a speech from Mayor Anthony Foxx spinning the Charlotte story boosters hope to see woven into convention media coverage. "Yes, we are a Southern city, filled with the gentility and the Southern charm one would expect," said Foxx. "But make no mistake about it - when we set our sights on a goal, we refuse to take no for an answer!" Foxx and his host committee co-chairman Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers are eager to keep the focus on Charlotte rather than politics. They need to raise nearly $37 million for the convention, and the Democratic Party says none of that money can come from corporations, lobbyists or individual gifts of more than $100,000. The DNC 2012 logo It's a high bar past convention cities haven't had to meet , and thus far it's unclear how well Charlotte's doing. The host committee pledged in its agreement with the DNC to post regular fundraising reports online, but has yet to do so. Pressed repeatedly, Mayor Foxx, Jim Rogers and other host committee officials have refused to say what's been raised, even as DNC Convention CEO Steve Kerrigan says he's, "making this the most open and accessible convention in history." Republican Party officials have called the Democratic Party's donation limits meaningless and have not imposed similar restrictions on their own convention host committee in Tampa, Florida. Last month that committee announced it had raised $15 million of its $55 million goal.