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Democratic planners assessing Birmingham for 2016

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 20, 2014 at 11:22 am •  Published: July 20, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Already on the upswing with a revitalized downtown and a trendy feel, Birmingham is trying to land its biggest prize in years: The 2016 Democratic National Convention.

And leaders of Alabama's struggling Democratic Party say they're barely involved in the courtship.

Officials with the Democratic National Committee will arrive in Alabama's largest city on Monday for a two-day visit to assess whether Birmingham would be a suitable location for the massive gathering.

Aside from meeting with area promoters to discuss logistical needs such as hotels and arena space, the national representatives will be wooed at a public "pitch party" planned for Monday night at a downtown concert venue. A separate, private party is planned at the city's year-old minor league baseball park.

The chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, Richard Mauk, said city officials made the bid for the convention and are in charge of the visit, and he's had virtually no involvement.

"I don't know much about it other than I've been invited to parties and I'm going to stand there and shake hands," Mauk said. "The city is totally in charge of it. It is their invitation."

The longtime vice chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, Joe Reed, said he also isn't involved and doesn't even know the schedule for the visit.

April Odom, a spokeswoman for Mayor William Bell, said the city has a nondisclosure agreement with the national party and can't comment.

The Democratic National Committee earlier this month said Birmingham was the first of six cities that would receive visits as the party considers potential sites for its national convention in two years. The others were Cleveland and Columbus in Ohio, a key swing state; New York; Philadelphia; and Phoenix.

The Republican Party has since selected Cleveland to play host for its 2016 convention, eliminating that city from the Democratic list because of an exclusivity requirement. Democrats plan to name their choice for 2016 by late this year or early 2015.

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