Why the Democrats took their state convention to Fort WayneJune 13th, 2012 at 5:11 pm by Jim Shella under Jim Shella's Political Blog
For the first time ever the state Democratic convention will be held outside Indianapolis on Saturday. Delegates will gather instead in Fort Wayne. The politics behind that decision start with the fact that Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is a Republican and Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry is a Democrat, but there are other reasons, too.
The Grand Wayne Center will be the setting for the 2012 Indiana Democratic Convention. For the state’s second largest city it will mean an economic boost of half a million dollars. “Our opportunity here is to showcase our community,” says Dan O’Connell of Visit Fort Wayne.
The chair of the convention committee, Carmen Darland, says, “It’s a very big deal for the city of Fort Wayne.”
For the two thousand delegates it’s a new experience. “And I think this is a sign that our party’s willing to look out to these other areas of the state,” says Democratic candidate for governor John Gregg, “and say, hey, you’re Hoosiers, you’re Hoosiers, too.”
“The Capital city seemed to be the logical place for this meeting,” says Chris Gahl of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, “but we understand.” Fort Wayne made a bid for the convention that includes hotel discounts and special events. “Mayor Ballard and his administration and, frankly, some of the hotels have taken the Democrats for granted,” says Jeff Fites, a member of the state Democratic Committee.
If that’s true, it may be because the Democratic convention, in a relative sense, is small. “Tourism is big business,” says Gahl. “$3.5 billion generated annually.” But the delegates are influential people and when the next convention rolls around Indianapolis will compete for it.
Allen County Republicans, meantime, have produced a negative TV ad that will greet the Democrats. It will air on Fort Wayne television this weekend telling voters that a return to Democratic rule is a bad idea.