Ohio a no-go for Democratic convention

Ohio a no-go for Democratic convention
Associated Press / Kiichiro Sato

Update: The thin-skinned Columbus Dispatch has picked up our article on its politics blog, calling the piece “sophomoric” and full of “cheap shots.” The digital rag proceeds to list the thoroughly researched disses underpinning our argument, but does nothing to refute them, offering only that Columbus has gotten the nod from “politico types.” Weak sauce, Columbus.

What do you get when you cross the decline of American industry with the rise of strip malls and factory farms? That’s right, Ohio.

Democratic Party honchos are still deciding which city should host its quadrennial presidential-candidate-anointing party, and the field has narrowed to three competitors: Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Columbus, Ohio. Our crack team of oddsmakers who are in no way partisan drew up a convincing list of reasons why the City of Brotherly Love should be utterly shoved out of contention back in April. Which leaves Columbus, also known as Cowtown.

What’s in a name?

The first problem with Columbus is name recognition. Practically every state has a city by that name. We even have a public space outside of Borough Hall called Columbus Park, but the moniker is so generic that people often lump it in with neighboring Cadman Plaza. The name Brooklyn is ubiquitous, too, but wayfarers who encounter the sleepy village of Brooklyn, Iowa probably think it is paying homage to its big brother by the East River (it was actually named for the brooks and land in the area — go figure). And when we say we love Brooklyn, nobody thinks we mean Brooklyn, Ohio, population 11,169.

Size matters

No competitor can hold a candle to Brooklyn’s size, and Columbus is no exception. Borough President Adams noted back in April that Philadelphia has about 1 million fewer people than Brooklyn, which means a million fewer hearts and minds to win, and a million fewer sets of pockets to fill, or empty, depending on the depth of said pockets. Columbus has such size issues that its local paper devoted a whole article to its breaking the 800,000 population mark, a feat a local demographer attributed not to rapid-fire in-migration, but to regular old human reproduction. And the enterprising boosters over at the Columbus Dispatch couldn’t even find someone who was excited by this supposed milestone! Even the resident cows are bored!


Brooklyn’s culinary landscape is famously diverse. Our fair borough popularized the hot dog in the early 20th century, and these days, it is lousy with coal-fired pizza, gastropubs, and organic, single-source coffee. We even have a $10 latte that our arts editor swears is worth every penny. Columbus, Ohio gave the world Wendy’s.

Courtesy visit: Members of the technical advisory team for the Democratic National Committee toured Columbus’s Nationwide Arena in August. Something tells us they didn’t want to be there.
Associated Press / Jay LaPrete

Too close for comfort

The Republican Party has already picked Cleveland for its 2016 convention. The Dems would be better off saving that battleground state stuff for the campaign. With Obama fatigue setting in throughout much of the U.S., this might be their last big party for a while, and where better to dance like it’s your last night on Earth than at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, crossroads of the world?

The smell test

Sure, Brooklyn is home to two federal Superfund sites, deeply polluted waterways that, in the case of the Gowanus Canal, flood with sewage when it rains, and Newtown Creek, neighbor a massive sewage treatment plant. But the convention isn’t near either of those places. The entire region around Columbus, on the other hand, recently got blanketed with a noxious smell that a local described “like sewage or landfill gas,” “kind of sewage, rotten eggs.” The culprit was a ventilation snafu at a paper plant 50 miles away, and who’s to say a repeat won’t strike on the decisive morning of the confetti drop? Nothing sours that big-donation impulse like rotten-egg smell.

Trust issues

Okay, so Barclays Center sprang a leak a couple of weeks ago. We admit it. That was a problem. But what’s the old saying? You can’t install a green roof without causing a few game delays? In any case, the soccer stadium in Columbus had even bigger problems earlier this year when the scoreboard at Crew Stadium, home to the Columbus Crew, caught fire back in April. We acknowledge that Columbus is pitching its hockey arena as the center of the convention festivities, not the defective stadium, but with local maintenance crews like that, a political club can never be too careful.

In summation

Brooklyn rules. Columbus drools.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperl‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Raise the roof: The Barclays Center could look like Charlotte, North Carolina’s Time Warner Cable Arena did in 2012 if it gets picked to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Associated Press