By Edith Honan
NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York’s liberal mayor, Bill de Blasio, wants Democrats to stage their 2016 national convention in the borough of Brooklyn, saying in a formal invitation that the city’s progressive energy would help galvanize the party before the presidential election.
In a letter made public on Friday to U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, de Blasio offered Brooklyn’s Barclays Center arena as the central venue.
With more than two years to go before the November 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state, who was also a U.S. senator from New York, is considered the Democratic front-runner if she decides to enter the race.
But Clinton’s potential candidacy has caused some disgruntlement in the more liberal wing of the party, which counts de Blasio as a standard-bearer.
“What this would do is create a marriage of left-wing progressives and the centrist Clinton brand and wipe away any concerns there are about centrist Democrats,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic political consultant who worked on former President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996.
It would also recognize the role of New York, and the borough of Brooklyn, as voting and fundraising powerhouses for Democratic candidates, Sheinkopf said.
Party conventions are held the summer before the autumn election. In recent decades, New York hosted the 2004 Republican convention that nominated President George W. Bush for a second term, and Democratic conventions in 1976, 1980 and 1992. Those events were held at Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden.
The deadline for cities to volunteer to host the 2016 convention is the close of business on Friday, said Lily Adams, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, which organizes the convention.
Adams declined to name the cities that had submitted bids, saying a final decision would be announced by early next year.
In the letter, de Blasio, who succeeded the more moderate Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the start of this year and who once represented a Brooklyn district on New York’s City Council, said the city’s progressive spirit “has never been stronger or more vibrant than it is today.”
“We believe that this spirit can energize and captivate both the Democratic Party and the nation,” he wrote.
(Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Peter Cooney)
[Image: New York mayor Bill de Blasio leaves during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in the Manhattan borough of New York May 26, 2014. By Carlo Allegri for Reuters]
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