Los Angeles Times - Denver, Colorado More Than a Conventional Choice
Denver, Colorado more than a conventional choice
Host to the Democratic National Convention, Colorado's capital is a notable partying platform for delegate and non-delegate alike.
By Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 04, 2008
Greetings, superdelegates, standard delegates, compromised Floridians, miffed Michiganders, would-be VPs and all-access VIPs. As you and the other Democrats convene here Aug. 25 to formally choose a presidential candidate at last, you will be wined, dined, wooed, spun, schmoozed, queried, denounced and perhaps bamboozled by all manner of unreliable operatives, members of the press and, of course, one another.
Don't trust those people. Trust me.
For instance, if, over a welcome cocktail, one of the locals seems to be inviting you to partake in some Dazbog with Hickenlooper, your drink has not been drugged and this is not a Justice Department sting. Dazbog is a popular local coffee brand. John Hickenlooper is Denver's mayor. And Denver, for the record, is a city of 570,000 at the eastern edge of the Front Range.
It's a mile high, as you may have heard. More to the point, it's the capital of Colorado, one of several Western states that leaned slightly right in 2004. Had they leaned slightly left, John Kerry would be in the White House. If I were a Democratic strategist, I would have put the party here too.
Once you're here, you may encounter either a Dazbog or a Hickenlooper in LoHi or SoCo, which is what some people call the Lower Highlands and South-of-Colfax neighborhoods. Nearby lies LoDo, which stands for Lower Downtown.
A word to those of you who backed presumptive nominee Barack Obama from the beginning: If a couple of burly Clinton people show up to bury the hatchet and offer you a free ride to the convention center on 14th Street, take evasive action. The Colorado Convention Center is a big, beautiful building in the heart of downtown, and Denver's taxpayers spent about $300 million to expand it four years ago -- but that's not where the party is.
The delegate floor will be a few miles away at the Pepsi Center, which holds more seats and houses Denver's pro basketball and hockey teams (the Nuggets and the Avalanche, respectively). In fact, this convention could be a bit like those hockey games: Though hip-checking, high-sticking and nose-punching are officially discouraged, legions will be rooting for just that, and ratings may depend on it.
That's why our itinerary includes two final stops, beginning with Rockmount Ranch Wear, outfitters of cowboys (and the politicians, actors and rock stars who admire them) since 1946.
Step through the door at 1626 Wazee St. between 8 a.m. and noon on a weekday and you're likely to be greeted by the chief executive, Jack A. Weil, the man who created snap-button shirts and sawtooth pockets on Western shirts. On March 27 Weil celebrated his 107th birthday.
Yet since Rockmount opened its retail space in 2005, he has sat up front, chatting up browsers and offering candy to their children. Behind his chair hangs a congratulatory note to Weil (a longtime Republican) from President Bush on his 105th birthday.
His advice for the conventioneers:
"I think a guy should be a Democrat until he makes a little money," he told me. "And then, if he wants to save it, he should become a Republican."