- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Officials involved with planning the Democratic National Convention said Tuesday they’re where they need to be in terms of fundraising and security, and have a designated area where they’ll ask protesters to use to avoid disruptions.

A space has been set aside across the street from the Wells Fargo Center for protests, and convention CEO Leah Daughtry said Democrats are intent on avoiding what they predict will be “chaos in Cleveland” at the Republican convention.

After hosting a visit last year from Pope Francis, and having served as host for the 2000 GOP convention, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said they are ready.

“We are extremely prepared for this. We’ve done it in the past, and we expect to be able to do it well in the future [and] the end of July,” Mr. Kenney told reporters at the National Press Club.

A handful of demonstration applications have already been approved.

But Mr. Kenney and national Democrats are intent on avoiding scenes of confrontation, which analysts say are possible at both conventions.

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Cleveland, which is hosting the GOP, made news by stocking up on protective riot gear, but Mr. Kenney said they have no interest in that kind of equipment for Philadelphia’s officers.

“We like bicycles,” he said. “Police on bikes interact with people better. We have a special detail that we’ve always had — it’s not special for the convention.”

Both the Republican and Democratic conventions are National Special Security Events, meaning the Secret Service is the lead agency for designing and implementing the operational security plan.

Mr. Kenney said their relationship with other federal agencies such as the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security has been good.

“We expect it to be seamless and flawless, and look forward to the extra help we’re going to be getting,” he said.

Ms. Daughtry said Democrats hope their convention looks different than what she predicted for the GOP’s affair, which happens a week ahead of Democrats’ gathering.

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Protesters have attempted to disrupt a number of likely GOP nominee Donald Trump’s campaign events so far, and analysts said it could take a toll on the convention.

But security experts have also warned about possible unrest in Philadelphia, saying supporters of Sen. Bernard Sanders might stir things up to the point where they get out of control.

Ms. Daughtry played down that possibility, saying the end of the campaign got heated but the sides are already coming together.

“I think you already see unity starting to happen,” she said.

Kevin Washo, executive director of the Philadelphia 2016 convention host committee, said they’re nearly $10 million shy of their overall fundraising target, but they’re on track to get there.

“Just like any campaign, any big endowment to raise money for a university, you’re always raising money [until] the last minute, so we don’t have a funding gap at all,” he said. “A little under 10 million [dollars] right now, so we’re in good shape.”

Mr. Washo said the list of donors will be made public eventually, saying they have to file a report with the Federal Election Commission 60 days after the convention.

“Right now, we’re in the middle of it and we have 30 days to close strong and we’re going to file just like the FEC requires us to file after 60 days,” he said. “Everything’s going to be transparent down to the dollar amount.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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