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Houston Already Lobbying For Democrats’ 1992 Convention

July 21, 1988

ATLANTA (AP) _ Struggling not to say ″I told you so,″ Texans who touted Houston as a better place than Atlanta for the Democratic National Convention have started lobbying to capture the party’s 1992 convention.

The pitch began on the crowded floor of The Omni arena Wednesday night when Texas delegates donned T-shirts bearing an inviting message to Democrats who are weary of gridlocked aisles and fights for seats in the convention hall.

″We have space for you in ’92,″ the shirts said.

The space problem was dramatized when officials locked The Omni’s doors for the second consecutive night Wednesday because of overcrowding. Some convention delegates were excluded from the hall, at least temporarily, on both nights.

″We’d like to show them what a real convention center looks like,″ said Don Ward of the Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau which is gearing up for another shot at the 1992 convention.

Houstonians had offered their massive new George R. Brown Convention Center as the best place for this year’s convention. Democratic National Chairman Paul Kirk opted instead for Atlanta.

Ward said the convention would have made $60 million for Houston while providing Democrats with a more comfortable setting.

″The George R. Brown would contain three Omnis. You could keep all the press and everything under one roof,″ he said.

The 13,000-member press corps here is housed in the spacious Georgia World Congress Center adjacent to The Omni.

While delegates jammed the Omni floor Wednesday night for the Michael Dukakis’ presidential nomination, Houstonians including Mayor Kathy Whitmire gathered in their convention center to watch the proceedings in Atlanta on television.

Texas state Democratic Chairman Bob Slagle, who joked that his home town of Sherman has livestock barns larger than The Omni, was among the Texans who were striving to avoid saying ″I told you so″ in Atlanta.

″It’s always embarrassing when anybody gets locked out of a Democratic convention for any reason. We pride ourselves on inclusion. It’s a shame and I’m sorry it happened,″ he said.

″It’s not the most useful hall we ever worked in,″ Slagle said of The Omni. ″If you like being crammed in like a sardine it’s a pretty nice place to be.″

Claire Giesen, an aide to Rep. Mike Andrews in Houston, is the lead cheerleader for the Houston ’92 effort. She observed that the T-shirts and stickers did not mention either political party and also could be used to lure Republicans to Houston in four years.

Ms. Giesen complained that The Omni is ″too small″ and that ″transportatio n is poor,″ but she had nothing but praise for the hot, humid weather that convention delegates endured here until recently. ″The weather has been great. Perfect weather,″ she said as she distributed stickers featuring a big blue ″92,″ which can seem like the average humidity on a summer day in Houston.

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