Steve Kerrigan said he isn’t paying much attention to the Republican National Convention happening this week in Tampa. Perhaps the Democratic National Convention Committee CEO is catching “snippets” here and there. But when I spoke with him on Wednesday, one of a parade of journalists hearing his last-minute thoughts and anxieties about Charlotte’s turn in the spotlight, it was clear he had some thoughts on the difference between the two.
“There isn’t one event planned by the convention that’s open to the public” in Tampa, he said.
He touted Charlotte’s plan. Besides the bookend events of CarolinaFest on Labor Day and President Obama’s Bank of America Stadium speech, the public can sign up to attend caucus and council meetings. The groups — from the Ethnic Council and the Rural Council to the Disability and Women’s caucuses — showcase inclusiveness, which Democrats say the GOP lacks. (Republicans, of course, would point to high-profile Tampa speakers such as Condi Rice and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez as proof of their party’s inclusiveness.)
The good news was the public was so enthusiastic about Obama's speech that all the tickets to the event ran out. The bad news is many people didn't get tickets.
“We are hoping that after we look at our allocations around the country we are able to reallocate some more back here to North Carolina to try to take care of some of the folks who were still in line,” Kerrigan said.
Kerrigan was short on convention-funding details, simply saying "We have the resources we need to get the job done.”
But he still gave next week’s DNC high marks for transparency. “I would put our open and accessible convention up against any convention this year or any year in history.” (Though the journalists who have been shut out of meetings between DNC organizers and local business owners would surely object.)
One person missing from the upcoming festivities is Susan Burgess, the Charlotte mayor pro tem who first pushed the city as the perfect place for a convention. In June 2010, Burgess died of cancer, and on Friday, “Ascendus” — a 60-foot-tall by 25- foot-wide sculpture designed by artist Ed Carpenter — is scheduled to be dedicated to her memory and her years of public service. The piece will be installed at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport entrance at Billy Graham Parkway and Josh Birmingham Parkway; the dedication is Aug. 31 at 10 a.m. at the Harris Conference Center at CPCC west campus, near the airport.
Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning Charlotte-based journalist, is a contributor to The Washington Post's “She the People” blog, The Root and theGrio. Her “Keeping It Positive” segment airs Wednesdays at 7:10 a.m. on Fox News Rising Charlotte, and she was national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter