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Buffalo will provide the stage for 2004 presidential hopefuls and 1,000 Democrats from across the country next August when the Young Democrats of America holds its national convention in the Buffalo Convention Center.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., announced the selection of Buffalo as the site for the event Monday outside Erie County Democratic headquarters in Ellicott Square, pointing out that Baltimore and several other cities had been in the running.

"You'll see all the national candidates here next August -- no question," Schumer said of the state's first Young Democrats convention since 1965.

"The presidential campaigns will be in full tilt by then," said Erie County Democratic Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan. "I have no doubt Buffalo will be on the presidential circuit."

Schumer, who once served as president of the Harvard College chapter of the Young Democrats, said he owes his start in politics to the organization. He said the event will pump about $800,000 into the local economy and serve as a forum for Democratic issues and for young members of the party prior to the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Lori Romus, president of the organization's local chapter, has been at the forefront of efforts to land the convention. She said that the Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency Buffalo will serve as headquarters. In addition to Baltimore, she said, Buffalo prevailed over Las Vegas, San Antonio, Texas, and Charleston, W.Va., in the competition for host city.

"By working together, the New York State Young Democrats, the state Democratic Party and elected officials both locally and across the state put together the best bid in the entire country," said Romus, a staff member for State Sen. Byron W. Brown, D-Buffalo.

The nationwide organization includes Democrats younger than 35.


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