As our Republican colleagues and counterparts are flooding into Tampa for their convention, Democrats like myself are just days away from flying off to Charlotte, North Carolina for our party's 47th quadrennial national convention. . . Yes, the ever-young Democratic Party, the oldest political party in the world, starts its confab literally hours after the balloons drop in Tampa. -- UNLIKE THE REEPS, who will hold a four day convention, the Dems have opted to skinny-down to three days, two in session at the local arena and one at the Charlotte Panthers stadium where President Obama will deliver his acceptance speech before the 5,500 delegates, plus another 70,000 in-stadium guests and perhaps 40 million on television (that's the number who watched him accept in Denver four yeas ago). - - - OUR PARTY picked North Carolina for its first-ever presidential nominating convention to send a signal how important its 15 electoral votes (one less than Michigan) will be to both tickets this fall and that the Dems are not writing off their chances in both NC and next-door Virginia, with its 13 electoral votes. Obama won both states in 2008 and he is fighting to hold them this year, making it very hard for the R ticket to put together the 270 electoral votes to win. - - - OF COURSE FLORIDA is the iconic swing state, so that's why Republicans who wouldn't otherwise think of visiting that state this time of year are crowding around the Tampa Bay this coming week. Of particular note is that the so-called I-4 corridor between Tampa and Orlando is the key swing area within the swing state. (The President won this area in 2008, clinching the state for him.) The Rs picked the site as ground zero for their campaign launch obviously not knowing about possible disruptions of hurricane Isaac, the Medicare debate heightened by the selection of Paul Ryan as VP choice, and the fact that most polls show Obama still leading in the national polls. - - - In Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, latest polls show virtual ties, making the local impact of the conventions as critical as the national impact. . .So all eyes - including mine - will be on Tampa this week, but then this Democratic delegate will be heading for Charlotte, where the focus will shift right after Labor Day. And, as I promised PATCH editor Jessica Carreras this week, I will be taking the readers with me through my blog, tweets and posts!