Bloomberg woos Democrats

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican, was downright cozy with Democratic National Committee big wigs Thursday night.

But if he was suffering from a bit of identity anxiety, Tony Soprano’s therapist was there to ease the strain.

Bloomberg traveled to Chicago during the DNC’s summer meeting here to pitch New York as the site of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. You’d think Bloomberg, a former Democrat who is now serving his second term as New York’s mayor, wanted Democrats to win the White House.

“We would be honored to host this assembly,” he told a crowd of DNC members at a wine, beer and “Big Apple” martinis party thrown by the New York City Host Committee 2008 in Chicago’s Millennium Park. “With the energy of our city, we will make your candidate better.”

He praised Illinois’ Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, declaring, “If I lived in Illinois, I would vote for him.”

The cross-party admiration was mutual.

Lorraine Bracco, who plays the stoic but somehow alluring Dr. Jennifer Malfi in “The Sopranos,” introduced Bloomberg warmly, crediting “Mayor Mike” for New York’s post-9-11 rebound.

“The city is confident and cocky — not too cocky. We’ll never be that way again,” she said of New York. She then announced that Democrats were ready “to take back the White House right there in the town known for launching winners.”

Minneapolis-St. Paul and Denver are also in the running for the convention in August 2008. Minneapolis-St. Paul officials planned a reception Friday night and Denver had scheduled a breakfast for DNC members.

The idea of a New York convention appealed to many, particularly those who recalled conventions in the city that catapulted Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton to the presidency. Others weren’t so sure.

Waring S. Howe Jr., a South Carolina DNC member, said Democrats should choose a city in a state that could tip the balance in favor of a Democratic presidential candidate.

“We shouldn’t have to have the convention in New York to win the state,” Howe said. “A state that might be trending the other way would be more helpful.”

That didn’t keep Bloomberg from pitching.

“I haven’t been in the company of such a large group of passionate, dedicated Democrats,” he said, “since I was one.”

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press