Democratic National Committee looking at Phoenix

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Democratic National Committee
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson Democratic National Committee (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson

PHOENIX (AP) -- Friction between the Obama administration and Arizona Republican lawmakers won't influence whether Phoenix gets picked as the site of the party's 2016 national convention, a top Democratic National Committee official said Wednesday.

"The DNC's been to red states, blue states. We're just looking for a city that can accommodate the requirements of a convention," DNC Chief Executive Officer Amy Dacey said during a news conference alongside Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

Stanton said Phoenix has grown more diverse and reflective of the rest of the country, citing its growing Latino population.

"Pretty soon, we'll be hearing around the country that `So goes Arizona, so goes our nation,'" Stanton said.

He also credited Gov. Jan Brewer, who famously shook her finger at President Barack Obama during a visit to Phoenix, for writing a letter in support of the city's bid to host the convention.

Besides the voter landscape, Stanton touted expansions Phoenix has made in the last decade with its light rail transit system and a sky train connecting the rail to the airport.

Phoenix is the final city that the committee is visiting and is one of five finalists to host the event. Hosting duties would mean a huge boost to the local economy. The 2008 Democratic National Convention brought in more than $260 million to Denver, Stanton said.

The other cities being considered are New York, Philadelphia, Birmingham, Alabama, and Columbus, Ohio.

The 15-member DNC group will be in Phoenix until Thursday and will look at the US Airways Center, Chase Field and the Phoenix Convention Center - all in the downtown area.

They also will meet with members of the Phoenix 2016 Host Committee, city staff and business leaders as well as nonprofit and labor leaders to discuss the bid.

Bill Clinton was the last Democrat to carry Arizona in a presidential election in 1996 but before that, Democrats had lost every presidential race in that state since Harry Truman in 1948.

Joe Uscinski, a political science professor at the University of Miami, has studied how national party convention locations have affected presidential political campaigns back to 2000. Uscinski said he doubts choosing Phoenix will drastically push Arizona to be a bluer or even purple state.

"I don't' see them getting a bunch of Republicans in Arizona getting swayed by the Democratic Party," Uscinski said. "All these people who supported SB1070 or all the Jan Brewer legislation, I don't see them being like `The Democrats are here. I'm going to vote for whomever - Hillary Clinton or something.'"

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is expected to announce the host city later this year or in early 2015.

Republicans have chosen Cleveland as the site for their 2016 national convention.

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