Charlotte to host Democratic convention

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 Obama formally made the announcement in an e-mail to Democrats on Tuesday. DNC Chairman Tim Kaine 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 Udall 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 Hagan 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 McCaskill (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.