CHARLOTTE -- Dozens of delegates to the 2012 Democratic National Convention toured the Charlotte area Monday. They looked at hotel space and nearby amenities in four housing zones: SouthPark, uptown, University City and Concord.
The delegates on the tour have a big responsibility. They're recommendations on places to stay will be used by their fellow delegates and guests next year.
Yvette Lewis, Chair of the Maryland State Democratic Party, said she's been impressed with the sites.
"It is a heavy responsibility, but one of the things that I'm excited about is that I have a little bit of a leg up because I grew up in Charlotte," she said.
Lewis is bringing 112 delegates from the Old Line State, along with elected officials and other guests. Like others on the tour, she assessed the hotels on more than just whether the beds are comfortable.
"We'll have to host meetings, and receptions, and breakfasts, and lunches," she said. "So, we needed to start getting an idea of where we would like to have those events as well."
With local media in tow, the delegates toured the University Place Hilton from the ballrooms to the bedrooms. Even the bathrooms were examined.
Jaxon Raven, executive director of the Washington State Democrats, flushed a wad of toilet paper to check the water pressure. He said it's something that Utah State Democratic Executive Director Todd Taylor has always done on site visits before conventions, but that Taylor didn't make this trip to Charlotte. After watching the swirling bowl of water, Raven said, "It looks fantastic."
Plumbing inspections aside, for the hotels in the University area the pitch is simple: they are close to the action of uptown, with lots of amenities nearby.
"A lot of people want to be downtown and be close to the Convention Center," David Glass, general manager of the Hilton Charlotte University Place told the delegates before the tour. "I'd just like to convince you that the University area is going to be a great place for you to stay as well."
After the tour of the hotel, Chip Forrester, chairman of the Tennessee State Democratic Party, said he was impressed.
"It's fabulous. I'm very impressed with the hotels. The hospitality has been great. And we have a lot of enthusiasm in Tennessee, so close to our friends in the Tar Heel State, people want to come over," he said.
Once the tours are all over, the delegations will submit their top picks for accommodations. They've already been assigned a spot in the picking order, based off a random lottery. Forrester said Tennessee didn't have such great luck.
"Well, unfortunately, it's not high, 36," he said with a laugh. "But there are great accommodations all throughout the city, so we feel very good."
Lewis' delegation from Maryland fared a bit better.
"We're not like number 50 or 49," she said. "We are number 19. So, we'll have a pretty, pretty decent selection, I think."
The delegations will learn their accommodations after the new year.