Brooklyn to vie for 2016 Democratic National Convention

New York Times News ServiceJune 6, 2014 

— Brooklyn, a nexus of the new Democratic left that has morphed from working-class enclave to a gritty, global arbiter of cool, will vie to host the Democratic National Convention in 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said on Friday.

In a formal bid, the de Blasio administration proposed Barclays Center, the rust-hued sports and entertainment arena in Brooklyn’s bustling downtown, as the anchor venue for the quadrennial gathering, with accommodations and other events to be spread across the city’s other four boroughs.

A Democratic convention in Brooklyn, arguably the most liberal redoubt of one of the country’s most liberal cities, would be a stark departure from the recent tradition of political parties hosting their conventions in swing states like Florida and Colorado, which can be critical to clinching a national campaign.

And it would raise a number of intriguing angles for national Democrats, who are confronting the rise of a resurgent left challenging the moderate values of a party that has tacked to the center since the years of the Clinton administration.

De Blasio, a Brooklyn resident who lives a 7-minute drive from the arena and has emerged as a new national liberal star, made no attempt to hide the clear political overtones of a Brooklyn-based gathering in his letter presenting the bid to the Democratic National Committee.

“The progressive spirit of New York City has never been stronger or more vibrant that it is today,” the mayor wrote. “We believe that this spirit can energize and captivate both the Democratic Party and the nation.”

Even the shift to Barclays Center from Madison Square Garden, a Manhattan institution that has played host to four Democratic conventions and one Republican, would be freighted with symbolism. Bill Clinton, who ushered in a new era of Democratic centrism, accepted the 1992 nomination for president with a dramatic entrance into the Garden’s cavernous arena.

And for a different Clinton with close ties to the next presidential race, a convention in Brooklyn could have its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, widely viewed as a top Democratic contender in 2016, has made New York her adopted state, serving as its senator and, more recently, opening an office inside the Time & Life Building, a landmark Modernist high-rise tower in Midtown Manhattan.

Much talk has been made about Clinton’s own evolving political views and whether she will embrace some of the liberal values embodied by upstart Democrats like de Blasio and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Clinton and her husband attended de Blasio’s inauguration in January, and a convention in Brooklyn, with its deep ties to prominent liberal groups like Acorn, would be a way to underscore any leftward tilt in the Democratic Party’s platform.

New York was among 15 cities that were invited by Democratic officials to submit bids to host the convention. The deadline was Friday.

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