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Democrats who already were queasy about the site of their national convention could be excused after Tuesday’s election in North Carolina if they asked, “Tell me again just why we’re going to Charlotte this year?” In fact, many Democrats privately are asking exactly that after the state’s voters overwhelmingly approved a measure outlawing not just same-sex marriage — which already was illegal in North Carolina — but also any form of civil unions. Almost immediately after the vote, more than 20,000 people signed a “move the convention” petition being pushed by a New York group called Gay Marriage USA. And Twitter accounts lit up with hundreds of angry tweets demanding the party pull out of Charlotte.
And it’s not as if things were going swimmingly for convention organizers before Tuesday’s vote. Fundraising was lagging with the Democrats’ decision not to accept money from corporations, making it much more difficult to reach the needed $36.6 million. That led to more pressure on labor unions to pony up. But they would rather spend their money on grassroots efforts and are still miffed that the party decided to go to a “right to work” state and a city with few unionized hotels.
You can add to the mix an unpopular Democratic governor who has decided not to run for another term, likely handing the statehouse to the Republicans. And don’t forget a messy sexual harassment scandal that has forced the state Democratic Party’s executive director to resign and left the party chairman with no choice but to step down with a new chairman slated to be elected on Saturday.
And, oh yes, there is the fact that President Obama will be accepting his nomination with a speech at the unfortunately named Bank of America Stadium, an occasion that will lead to a run of stories about the $45 billion that the banking powerhouse received in the unpopular TARP bailout. And there will be mentions of the bank’s inclusion on the list of mortgage companies where staffers signed foreclosure documents without verifying the information on them.
What’s not to love about a Charlotte convention? When the city beat out the other finalists — Cleveland, Minneapolis and St. Louis — it used the slogan “Charlotte in 2012: Reaching for Tomorrow.” The challenge for Democrats now is to try to forget a pretty messy Today.