Boston will host the 2004 Democratic National Convention, edging out New York and two other cities as Democrats prepare to challenge President Bush's expected re-election bid.

The decision by the Democratic Party means that its members will gather in one of the nation's most liberal states to nominate their presidential candidate. Bush has not announced his intentions, but White House officials are already plotting his re-election and have no doubt that he will seek a second term.

The recommendation that Boston be selected was made by the Democratic National Convention's site advisory committee and was unanimous. Although the decision was only a recommendation, party Chairman Terry McAuliffe is expected to accept it.

Alice Huffman, co-chairman of the site advisory panel, said that all four cities made good presentations, but "there was one shining star."

Cheers were heard at Boston City Hall when McAuliffe called Mayor Thomas Menino with the news on a conference call that included the Massacusetts Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, who is expected to run for president in 2004.

"This has been a long journey," Menino said, crediting community and business leaders who helped put together the winning bid.

"Boston is a city that works for all our people, and that's what we want the future of America to be," Menino said.

A source discussing the subject on grounds of anonymity said the party's convention well be held during the week of July 26, 2004.

Detroit and Miami also were finalists in the bidding for the convention.

Boston has promised a $49.5 million financial package of support for the convention, including $20 million in cash commitments.

Michael Meehan, senior counselor to McAuliffe, said those letters of credit from Boston businesses marked the first time that cash has been promised before a convention bid has been awarded.

"Cash makes a louder statement than promised in-kind services," he said.

Up until Wednesday, McAuliffe had not ruled out Detroit because of Michigan's importance as a crucial swing state in the presidential elections, Meehan said earlier.

Boston has never hosted a national political convention.

New York had pledged $72 million, and Miami $40 million and Detroit $50 million, respectively.

Meehan had said Tuesday that all four cities were still in the running.

However, Carole Brennan, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, confirmed Tuesday that city attorneys have started discussions with Democratic National Committee attorneys about convention contracts.

New York also is one of three finalists for the Republican National Convention, along with New Orleans and Tampa-St. Petersburg in Florida, where President Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, is the Republican governor. Democrats and Republicans are unlikely to host their conventions in the summer of 2004 in the same city.

The GOP's site committee has not yet made a recommendation.

Cities increased their lobbying of the DNC in recent days.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., called McAuliffe on Friday to pitch Boston.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican, flew to Washington to dine with McAuliffe on Sunday night.