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Netroots Nation Coming to Providence?

Netroots Nation, the annual confab of progressive bloggers, has become a sort of whistlestop for left-leaning politicians. In 2007, all the major Democratic candidates for president participated in a lively debate at the event, then known as the YearlyKos Conference. Since then, figures like Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid have made the pilgrimage.

Next year, as I report in tomorrow's Phoenix, it looks like Netroots will be coming to Providence.

Netroots won't make the official announcement for a couple of weeks. But Nolan Treadway, political and logistics director for the organization, told me Providence is "one of a couple of finalists" for the 2012 conference. And choosing the capital city would fit nicely with the bloggers' progressive political profile.

As you may recall, Providence was a finalist to host this year's Netroots Nation when the Westin Providence hotel, which was to be one of the hosts, unilaterally cut workers' wages and hiked health care premiums. The Unite Here union organized a boycott which Netroots, among other organizations, honored.

The Westin and the workers have since reached a deal, restoring the wage cuts and reining in the health care premium increases over time. Netroots, which counts several major unions among its chief sponsors, could put a nice capstone on the story - demonstrating the power of organized labor and its supporters - if it came to Rhode Island now.

Progressive bloggers will not be quite the force this presidential election season that they were last time, with no Democratic primary in sight. But 2012 is still an important election year, with plenty of important races. And Netroots will undoubtedly be the focus of some media attention when it convenes next June.

Providence, always intent on burnishing its credentials as a hip, tech-friendly, start-up city, could only benefit from the attention. And the conference, expected to bring some 2000 people, would provide a nice little economic boost, too.

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