Former Gov. Ed Rendell will serve a chairman of a new non-profit that is pitching Philadelphia as the host for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Rendell, after meeting with about 60 people this morning from the city's political, business and organized labor communities, said the non-profit hopes to raise $50 million to stage the event.
One familiar face was missing in the power-packed room -- Mayor Nutter -- who has seemed reluctant to embrace the idea first pushed by U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the city's Democratic Party chairman. Rendell said Nutter is on board with the pursuit of the political convention.
Columbus, Ohio is considered a frontrunner for the convention because of that state's importance in presidential politics. Brady was not impressed.
"I don't know what the hell is in Columbus," Brady said. "I hope they are the competition. We'll blow them away."
Those attending the meeting, which was not open to the media, at the Union League were told Atlanta, Cleveland, Orlando, San Antonio, Brooklyn, Pittsburgh and St. Louis are also "potential competition."
Rendell called the economic impact and exposure of a convention "priceless." He said the city would have no problem hosting a convention one year after the 2015 World Gathering of Families, which is expected to draw Pope Francis and up to 2 million people to Philadelphia.
"There is sometimes a defeatist attitude in this city," said Rendell, who had just wrapped up two terms as mayor when the Republican National Convention was held here in 2000. "We have to get out of that attitude that it's too big for us. We are a major league city."
A nonprofit raised $66 million for the 2000 convention, with $39 million coming from taxpayers in the Philadelphia region. Brady and Rendell said the city would not have to put up any money for the 2016 bid and any expenses incurred for city services would be covered by federal funding for security and the economic impact of the money spent by those attending the convention.
Pennsylvania’s importance in presidential politics should play as much a role in the Democratic National Committee’s decision, expected to be made in the Fall, as Ohio’s role in the process, Brady noted.
The city’s media market covers much of New Jersey, where Gov. Christie is considered a potential 2016 Republican Nominee. And former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a potential Democratic nominee, has strong family ties to the Scranton area.
John Dougherty, leader of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said a Clinton ticket could energize the city.
“Young kids today say ‘it’s banging,’” Dougherty said. “If she’s the candidate, Philly will be a banging convention.”
Rendell stammered for just a moment at that before asking the media: “Put the correct interpretation on that.”