Democratic Party officials arrived in New York on Monday for some first-class wining-and-dining as the city's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, tried to lure the Democratic National Convention to his home borough of Brooklyn in 2016.
De Blasio, who took office in January, wants to hold the nominating spectacle at the Barclays Center, the deliberately-rusted home of the Brooklyn Nets and symbol both of the borough's hipster-fueled revival and the gentrification that came with it.
The liberal mayor literally rolled out the red carpet for the Democratic National Committee on Monday (probably the first time in decades that a clean carpet was seen in Penn Station).
Yet Brooklyn faces stiff competition from four other finalist cities, including an aggressive push from nearby Philadelphia to host the Democrats two years from now. The Republicans have already settled on the swing-state city of Cleveland, and Democrats could join them in Ohio by choosing its capital, Columbus. The other finalists are Phoenix and Birmingham, which probably just feel lucky to be nominated.
New York's bid began with a bit of a hiccup as de Blasio was a no-show for his own press conference – a spokesman said he was busy hosting other mayors for an unrelated event at Gracie Mansion, a group that coincidentally included rival Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia.
Another camera-loving Brooklynite, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), played M.C. instead, leading an exuberant cast of city officials in a mini-pep rally in front of the Barclays Center.
Since reliably-blue New York can't claim to be a crucial swing state in the presidential campaign, Schumer turned to symbolism to trumpet Brooklyn's resurgence over the last decade.
"Having a convention here is a metaphor for America," he crowed. "Just like Brooklyn is roaring back, America is roaring back, led by Democratic leadership."
Trying to seize on the influx of young people who were priced out of Manhattan and flocked to Brooklyn, Schumer said the borough "represents the future."
The other city officials in attendance were even more excitable.
"This is going to be epic," promised Laurie Cumbo, the city councilwoman who represents the area around the Barclays Center. "People are going to be talking about this for generations."
Cumbo's message to the Democrats: "We have swag on lockdown."
The city public advocate, Letitia James, proclaimed Brooklyn "the hottest borough on the planet." (Which naturally raises the question, what other cities have boroughs besides New York?)
Yet it was Schumer who took on what is seen as one of Brooklyn's chief liabilities; because the borough only has about 3,500 hotel rooms, most of the nearly 20,000 delegates will have to stay across the river in Manhattan.
Jabbing at the city's bid, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) told The New York Times last week that Brooklyn's bid had "huge problems."
No hotels. And how would you like to transport in the middle of rush hour thousands of delegates from Midtown to Brooklyn?”
Schumer's response? "Gobbledy-gook."
Citing New York's famous public transit system, he said conventioneers would have any easier time getting to Brooklyn from Manhattan than they had at sprawling D.N.C. sites like Los Angeles in 2000 and Charlotte in 2012, when some attendees found themselves staying in South Carolina.
New York City, Schumer said, "has more hotel space than any other city and more hotel space close to the convention center than any other city."
As if to prove the point, de Blasio adviser Peter Ragone told reporters that the D.N.C. it took the D.N.C. delegation just 13 minutes, 25 seconds to travel by bus in "dedicated travel lanes" from their Midtown Manhattan hotel to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
What "dedicated travel lanes" mean for New York City's eight million non-VIPs, however, is anyone's guess.
Left unsaid by most of the city cheerleaders was that Brooklyn could also serve as a coronation for a one-time favorite daughter, former Sen. Hillary Clinton.
The city's plans for wooing the Democratic officials over a two-day site visit included a ritzy dinner on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, breakfast at Rockefeller Center and lunch on Tuesday with cultural officials at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
New York officials also released a host committee of more than 70 bold-faced names who have pledged to raise more than $100 million for the Brooklyn bid, Ragone said. They include actress Cynthia Nixon, music mogul Russell Simmons, former Facebook executive Sean Parker and a litany of top donors to the Clintons and President Barack Obama, according to Politico.