Chicago a front-runner for the 2024 Democratic convention; Whoopi Goldberg ups the ante in New York

Chicago a front-runner for the 2024 Democratic convention;  Whoopi Goldberg ups the ante in New York
Chicago a front-runner for the 2024 Democratic convention;  Whoopi Goldberg ups the ante in New York

WASHINGTON — With Chicago and Atlanta leading the way for the 2024 Democratic National Convention — and my bet is on Chicago — New York is trying to stay in the mix with a new booster video narrated by Whoopi Goldberg.

“Come to New York, where we’re going to put on a seamless and spectacular convention,” Goldberg says in the video, which surfaced Monday. It runs for 7 minutes and 11 seconds.

President Joe Biden, who is expected to run for a second term in 2024, will make the decision on the convention city.

It is not clear who exactly the long video will affect.

A technical advisory group from the Democratic National Committee evaluated the bids. Biden will get an endorsement from people scrutinizing the bids who likely won’t be swayed by the New York infomercial, which isn’t telling them anything they didn’t already know.

The video shows parts of the New York bid.

Point for point, Chicago has everything New York says it can offer the Democrats and more, except for the Statue of Liberty and garbage waiting to be collected outside on the downtown streets.

Chicago supporters have criticized Atlanta for being anti-union, right-to-work in Georgia, and having only two union hotels. New York followed with copy-cat jabs at Atlanta.

Perhaps New York thinks it can revive its fading chances if Atlanta is knocked out over labor objections.

New York last hosted the Democrats in 1992, when Bill Clinton was nominated for his first term. Chicago last hosted the Democrats in 1996, when Clinton was nominated for her second term.

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I reported on February 9 that billionaire Gov. JB Pritzker was among those who gave advance assurances to the Democratic National Committee that the party would not lose money if Chicago held the convention.

New York offers venues in Midtown Manhattan – Madison Square Garden and the Javits Center. The Garden has 97 suites.

Chicago is putting up the United Center and McCormick Place complex a few miles from the Loop. The United Center has 164 suites.

Goldberg designated the Javits Center, with 3 million square feet and a new 54,000 square foot event space.

Chicago offers the entire McCormick complex, which together is, as Chicago boosters put it, the “largest and most flexible convention center in North America.”

There is 2.6 million square meters of exhibition space, with much more in the indoor and outdoor footprint. Walkways link the McCormick complex to three hotels with around 3,000 hotel rooms. The Arie Crown Theater seats 4,188, and the state-of-the-art Wintrust Arena seats 10,000.

“You can even get some honey from the bees that call the roof of the Javits Center home,” Goldberg said, a reference to the rooftop terrace.

Hotels are a big deal in a convention. The DNC told bidders they need 15,000 hotel rooms.

Goldberg addresses what has been New York’s Achilles heel: that the hotels are expensive. There are, Goldberg said, 4,000 convention-goer rooms under $300.

“We have over 13,000 hotel rooms, media studios, iconic events and world-renowned culture and entertainment, all within a 10- to 15-minute car or shuttle ride or 20-minute walk,” Goldberg said.

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Chicago told the DNC it has 43,462 rooms and suites in inventory, with hotels in the Loop, River North, Streeterville, West Loop, Gold Coast, McCormick Place, Chinatown and Hyde Park.

There’s even a potential Chicago hit in the video, albeit a subtle one. Goldberg cites the great “leadership” and “stability” offered by New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Governor Kathy Hochul. It could be a reference to the fact that the DNC will be dealing with a new mayor in Chicago.

After Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost the first round of voting on February 28, the Chicago congressional bid team put together a joint letter from mayoral rivals Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson pledging support for the convention.

Goldberg also claimed that “every major news network” is within walking distance of the convention, she argued, convenient for Democratic surrogates to “navigate” between the convention and the news meets.

All the major networks are building elaborate facilities in convention halls – from skyboxes converted into television sets to alternative rooms for guests to make hits.

“And you know it’s easy to get to New York,” Goldberg said. Same for Chicago. Both cities are hubs for trains, planes and buses.

She pointed to Newark, JFK and LaGuardia, airports 30 minutes to an hour from Midtown Manhattan. O’Hare and Midway can meet it and up—easy CTA service from Chicago’s two airports to downtown.

The Javits Center has bees. I’ll give it to them.

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