President Barack Obama’s decision in February 2011 to hold the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina looked like a bold move to reclaim a state he’d won in 2008. Today, it’s more like an awkward fit.
The state’s Democratic Party is mired in a sexual harassment scandal. Voters just approved a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, which conflicts with Obama’s view on the issue. Convention fundraising has been slow, and labor unions tapped to fill the financial gap are angry the convention will be in a city — Charlotte — with no unionized hotels and in a state where compulsory union membership or the payment of dues is prohibited as an employment condition.
North Carolina’s 9.7 percent unemployment rate is above the national average and one of the host city’s top employers —Bank of America (BAC) — has announced job reductions. Obama is scheduled to accept his party’s nomination at Bank of America Stadium in September.
“It’s inconceivable that they would move the convention,” said Don Kettl, dean of the school of public policy at the University of Maryland. “But they may wish that they had placed their chips on another swing state.”