Tuesday, February 1, 2011

EXTRA: Will Obama be liked by locals when Dems meet in Charlotte in ’12?

It seems that the anticipated re-election effort for Barack Obama as president will operate out of Chicago, and will try to re-nominate him at a Democratic convention to be held in Charlotte, N.C.

Yet I can’t help but think that, while Charlotte likely will be courteous to Obama when the convention takes place, I suspect he will be only the second-most popular Chicago transplant in their city.

AFTER ALL, MICHAEL Jordan now lives in Charlotte (or at least owns a luxury condominium there) and is a part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats of the National Basketball Association.

Maybe if Jordan shows up at the convention (definitely a long-shot) and stands alongside Obama for a few seconds, Charlotte might get excited at the prospect of what will happen in their midst next summer.

That city (in fact, that state) has never held a presidential nominating convention, and some political observers are quick to point out that North Carolina has “right to work” laws – whose intent is to mess with organized labor and unions in their ability to organize employees to look out for their worker rights and conditions.

It’s not exactly a place that sympathetic to Democrats. Obama himself barely won the state’s Electoral College votes in 2008, and he was the first Democrat to win North Carolina in a presidential election since Jimmy Carter back in ’76.

BUT IT DOES make sense in terms of trying to stir up the emotions and excitement level of the African-American population in the southern states, which is usually the bulk of the Democratic Party that exists in ol’ Dixie.

Getting those voters to turn out in force will be a significant part of any re-election strategy, since various polls taken in the past couple of years show that the African-American voter bloc is the one segment of our society that remains as excited today about Obama as president as they did back in ’08.

Although perhaps Michelle Obama isn’t exaggerating too much in an e-mail the campaign sent out on her behalf to various supporters, where she cited her first trip as first lady being one to Fort Bragg. She said, “Charlotte is a city marked by its southern charm, warm hospitality and an ‘up by the bootstraps’ mentality that has propelled the city forward as one of the fastest-growing in the South.”

So that is where Democrats from across the nation will be converging come the week of Labor Day in 2012, which is when the Democratic National Convention will be held.

IT’S A SHAME that the convention is being held then, because it significantly reduces the chances of enjoying the one other Chicago/Charlotte sports connection – the White Sox have their top-level minor league affiliate there.

But by Labor Day, the Charlotte Knights’ season next year is likely to be complete. Hopefully, that’s not any kind of metaphor for the Obama Administration itself.


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