GOP picks New York City to host 2004 convention


Published: Tuesday, January 7, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 6, 2003 at 9:30 p.m.
NEW YORK - The Republican Party on Monday chose the city that suffered the heaviest blow on Sept. 11 to host the 2004 GOP national convention.
After an intensive monthslong courtship of GOP leaders that included a Broadway show and breakfast at Tiffany's, New York City beat out New Orleans and Tampa, Fla.
Party strategists said the decision to come to New York City - where Democrats outnumber Republicans 5-1 - is a clear sign President Bush and the party believe the GOP can carry the state in 2004 and wrest its 31 electoral votes from the Democrats.
No Republican presidential candidate has won the state since Ronald Reagan in 1984. And while New York City has hosted the Democrats several times, as recently as 1992, it has never been the site of a Republican convention.
"If the Republican Party wants to make the case that they can represent everybody, this is the place to go and do it," Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Republican Gov. George Pataki said the selection also demonstrates New York has recovered from the terrorist attacks that killed 2,800 people. It is "yet another sign of the confidence people have in New York and sends a message to America and the world that New York is back," Pataki said.
The convention is expected to draw nearly 50,000 people and generate more than $150 million in economic activity for the city, according to the mayor's office. New York has agreed to set aside 22,000 hotel rooms for those attending the convention at Madison Square Garden.
The budget for the convention will be $80 million - $53 million of which will be raised privately. The rest will be spent by the city for police protection, sanitation and other costs.
Bloomberg praised New York unions for assuring GOP planners the convention would be run efficiently and for agreeing to a no-strike deal during convention week, which begins Aug. 30.
The Democratic Party also considered the city as a 2004 convention site, but it picked Boston in November when New York refused to drop out of its pursuit of the Republicans.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, had pushed hard for Florida to get the convention. But Republican officials worried about protests there because of the contested 2000 White House race.
New Orleans had many advantages as a convention city, but the Republicans lost a bitterly contested Senate runoff there a month ago.
Bloomberg, Pataki and the city's top corporate and labor leaders had pressed to host the convention practically since Bloomberg took office last January.
Members of the GOP site selection committee visited the city in August, when they were put up at the Plaza Hotel and taken by horse-drawn carriage to the mayor's Upper East Side townhouse for dinner. They were treated to lunch at the New York Stock Exchange, and a performance of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" on Broadway. Last month, Bloomberg had dinner with Bush political adviser Karl Rove to close the deal.
"This puts some pressure on Democrats because it says that Republicans have staked a claim in New York," GOP strategist Jay Severin said.
Herman "Denny" Farrell, the Democratic state chairman, said: "As a New York City person, I'm happy for the city and for our economy. But as a Democrat, I know that when we chose our candidate we will still carry New York state."
Although Republican Party leaders settled on New York, the GOP must still reach a contract with the city and conduct a vote of the full 165-member national committee at its Jan. 29-Feb. 1 meeting.
Associated Press writers Marc Humbert in Albany and Sara Kugler in New York contributed to this story.

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