Democrats will hold their 2012 national convention in Charlotte, N.C., the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced Tuesday.

Democrats had considered four cities as finalists for their convention: Charlotte; Minneapolis, Minn.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Cleveland, Ohio. 

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First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle ObamaMichelle Obama: I won't run for office The Hill's 12:30 Report Michelle Obama to participate in 'College Signing Day' with MTV MORE formally made the announcement in an e-mail to Democrats on Tuesday. DNC Chairman Tim KaineTim KaineDemocrats exploring lawsuit against Trump Overnight Defense: US moving missile defense system to South Korea | Dems want justification for Syria strike | Army pick pushes back against critics of LGBT record Kaine, Schiff press Trump on legal justification for Syria strike MORE will head to Charlotte Tuesday evening to begin organizing the convention preparations.‬

"All the contending cities were places that Barack and I have grown to know and love, so it was a hard choice. But we are thrilled to be bringing the convention to Charlotte," the first lady said in an e-mail to Democrats explaining the choice.

Nominating conventions typically give parties an opportunity to showcase their presidential candidate and slate of national stars before a local audience, where they can sway voters.

That line of thinking influenced Democrats when they chose Denver for their 2008 convention. Obama ended up carrying the state 54-45 percent, Democrat Mark UdallMark UdallPicking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' Election autopsy: Latinos favored Clinton more than exit polls showed MORE cruised to victory in the Senate race (a takeover), and other Democrats fared well downballot.

Their choice of Charlotte signals that Democrats and Obama intend to compete in as wide an electoral map as in the 2008 election. A Democrat hadn't won North Carolina since the 1976 presidential election, when Jimmy Carter took the state over President Ford. 

Obama rode to victory there in part by the strength of the state's black voters, who also helped carry Democrat Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE over Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in the state's Senate race. By choosing Charlotte, Democrats appear to hope Obama can begin turning a southern, conservative-leaning state into a more genuine swing state — one where Democrats will be able to compete in cycles to come. The party has sought to do the same with neighboring Virginia.

"President Obama will be very active in North Carolina and that, despite what some have speculated, we are going to go as big in 2012 as we did in 2008 – and that means fighting hard for North Carolina, Virginia and all the states and more that helped elect President Obama in the first place," a senior Democratic official said of the selection.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillFive takeaways from the Georgia special election Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Potential McCaskill challenger has .7M: report MORE (D-Mo.) said she suspected the convention would be heading to Charlotte over her home state of Missouri, where she faces reelection in 2012. On Tuesday she said she was "bitterly disappointed" that St. Louis was not chosen.

She said she pestered the party constantly: "I knew there was a problem when they stopped returning my calls."

Republicans are holding their 2012 convention in Tampa, Fla.

Erik Wasson contributed.

This post was last updated 1:20 p.m.