Charlotte's preparations for Democratic National Convention to ramp up

The Charlotte ObserverApril 29, 2011 

Preparations for next year's Democratic National Convention will ramp up next month with local staff hirings and the expected arrival of the party's convention organizers.

On Thursday, Mayor Anthony Foxx named former Mecklenburg commissioner Dan Murrey as executive director of Charlotte's host committee. Murrey will oversee a staff that will work with a team from the Democratic National Committee. It's also expected to hit the ground in May.

Even as the announcement was made, DNC staffers were across the street at Visit Charlotte completing three days of signing contracts with more than 140 hotels from Rock Hill to Salisbury.

The events ratchet up the profile of an event whose preparations had for weeks remained largely behind the scenes.

"We're not starting from scratch but it's going to be important now to get a permanent team in place ... and start acting out our plan," Murrey said. "You're going to be seeing more activity ramping up, and we're excited about that."

Murrey, who starts Monday, will oversee the host committee's fundraising, public relations and outreach efforts with the help of a yet-to-be named steering committee. A Davidson and Harvard graduate and an orthopedic surgeon, he's taking leave from his job as CEO of OrthoCarolina.

"It's not easy walking away from what I do," Murrey said. "The mayor was pretty persistent and this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Both Murrey and Foxx declined to say how much he'll be paid as executive director or what the host committee's budget will be. They said it would involve no public money.

Under the city's contract with the DNC, the committee's costs are over and above the $36.7 million local fundraisers have promised to raise for the convention.

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