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RNC Convention City List Down To Final Four

GOP Convention

The list of cities on the short list for the 2016 Republican National Convention is getting smaller:

The Republican Party on Thursday announced four finalists to host its 2016 national convention — Cleveland, Dallas, Denver and Kansas City, Mo. — after Las Vegas withdrew its bid in the face of strong opposition from some conservatives in the GOP.

Cincinnati, which was vying as well, also dropped its bid ahead of the official announcement, which followed a conference call by the party’s site selection committee.

Members of the committee will visit the four remaining cities over the next several weeks and a final decision is expected in the late summer or fall.

For a time, Las Vegas and Dallas were seen as the two front-runners to host Republicans. The cities boasted amenities that no others offered, including abundant hotel space and a clutch of generous GOP mega-donors prepared to guarantee the event’s financial success.

But Las Vegas, which has hosted all manner of conventions but never a national political gathering, was plagued by its libertine image, which is both a major tourist attraction and source of civic cringing.

A group of social conservative leaders recently wrote to Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, objecting to Las Vegas as convention host, calling the city “a metaphor for all things decadent.”  Among other things, the letter noted that a review of the local phone book counted 64 pages of escort services.

“At a time when the base needs to be motivated, this is no time to mute or offend them in any way,” the letter said.

In an interview earlier this month, Nevada’s Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval praised the move as a model for the national party, suggesting it needs to abandon ideological litmus tests if it hopes to win back the White House.

But others viewed the move as a betrayal of the party’s fundamental principles.

“I am not surprised Vegas dropped out,” Ed Martin, chairman of the Missouri Republican Party and one of the state’s two representatives on the RNC, wrote in an email. “When the Nevada GOP recently dropped the pro-life and marriage planks, it made it impossible for the pro-life, traditional marriage Republican Party to choose Vegas for a convention.”

In withdrawing its bid on the eve of Thursday’s meeting, Las Vegas’ host committee alluded to its crowded convention schedule — the city is the nation’s top convention destination — and concerns about the time needed for preparations.

“Two primary conditions must be fully met by any competing bid city,” wrote Brian Krolicki, Nevada’s Republican lieutenant governor and the head of the host committee. “The ability to provide a traditional arena facility to physically accommodate the convention; and an on-site preparatory period deemed sufficient by your technical consultants to comfortably allow for an anticipated convention commencement date in June of 2016.  Las Vegas is currently unable to meet either one of these requirements.”

The objections of social conservatives to a convention in Las Vegas have been known for some time, and there have also been those who have said that any political party would probably avoid a convention in a city like Vegas due to the inevitable stories that would come out regarding the city’s reputation and the activities of delegates. However, veteran Nevada political reporter John Ralston says that, in the end, it really did come down to logistics:

Many will say that image is everything and that’s what killed Vegas. Maybe it played a role, maybe not.

But it’s clear that the convention authority could not guarantee the venue during the accelerated timeline from the RNC — they wanted to do in June — and that not enough people wanted to pony up to give the RNC up-front money, as Dallas, for instance, has been willing to do.

“There wasn’t any real appetite to buy into it,” one insider with intimate knowledge told me. “Unless it’s on your piece of dirt on the Strip, nobody cares.”

Sheldon Adelson was willing to give his share, but not buy the entire thing, several sources told me.

But even if he had been willing, the venue is occupied in June.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who helmed the effort, lauded the convention authority team but said the venue “could not be provided” for the time period needed in June. “It was very clear that June was the preference of the RNC, so they could have anominee earlier, and I can’t disagree with that,” Krolicki told me.

Krolicki said he believes the money eventually could have been raised — “Las Vegas overperforms,” he said. But the venue issue was impossible. And MGM could not guarantee a June opening for its news arena.

Just wait until 2020, he said, and everyone said and yet…..

Cincinnati’s decision to withdraw also seems to be based upon logistics, and it leaves Cleveland as the remaining Ohio city on a list of potential list of convention cities that originally included all three of the Buckeye State’s major cities.

Of the remaining cities on the list, it’s hard to say which one might be the frontrunner. Denver could certainly make a claim given that it successfully hosted the 2008 Democratic Convention, and its status as the capital of a state that is likely to be fought over in 2016 will likely play a factor as well. Cleveland would be an interesting choice mostly because it is the center of the most Democratic part of a state that still has strong Republican leanings and which will also be a battleground in 2016. Kansas City would bring back memories of the 1980 convention that nominated Ronald Reagan, and Missouri is also likely to be a battleground state. Finally, Dallas would certainly be friendly territory for the GOP, but to the extent that a convention site is chosen for political benefit there really isn’t much benefit in picking a city in a state that GOP is going to win in 2016 anyway.

As for the Democrats, they seem to be at a much earlier stage of their planning process than the GOP at this point. According to a recent report, there are as many as 15 cities in the running ranging from Atlanta and Pittsburgh to the unlikely location of Salt Lake City, Utah. Bids for the Democratic Convention are due next month, though, so I’m sure we’ll see the list narrow itself down soon enough.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    “…When the Nevada GOP recently dropped the pro-life and marriage planks, it made it impossible for the pro-life, traditional marriage zealots and bigots that make up the Republican Party to choose Vegas for a convention…”

    Edited for accuracy….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  2. James Pearce says:

    They dropped Vegas for being libertines, but Denver’s still on the short-list, despite our newly minted recreational marijuana industry. Weird.

    Dallas or KC would be better choices.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. C. Clavin says:

    @James Pearce:
    A newly minted recreational marijuana industry that is creating a bunch of jobs and tax revenue, oh-by-the-way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. rudderpedals says:

    Mark it down: It’s going to Cleveland, the better to fluff the Ohio electorate.

    Personally I think Dayton’s the best choice. For a Hamvention.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Pinky says:

    I’ve said before, they should wait to see if Kasich wins and have it in Ohio. The Republicans need the Great Lakes states, and have been making headway in them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. al-Ameda says:

    When did they drop Pyongyang, Moscow, and Kabul from consideration?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  7. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:
    Yes, Ohio has a tremendous vote suppression system.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  8. Tillman says:

    @James Pearce: If it’s just for the symbolism, they could go there as a surprise show of support for marijuana legalization, really reach out to the libertarians. It’d annoy the socons, but not nearly as much as Vegas.

    Imagine the video of stoned delegates that might get out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Franklin says:

    Among other things, the letter noted that a review of the local phone book counted 64 pages of escort services.

    Done in the name of research, of course.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  10. Pinky says:

    You also have to consider the possible story lines. A Bush, Cruz, Jindal, or Perry on the ticket? Dallas. A Walker or Christie? Cleveland. Is the campaign going to be about economic turnarounds, fracking and oil prices, education, et cetera? The backdrop affects the story you want to tell.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. michael reynolds says:

    Among other things, the letter noted that a review of the local phone book counted 64 pages of escort service

    s.

    Phone books still exist?

    Look, one way or the other the hookers will be there. But if the GOP rejects Vegas it means hookers have to drive in from other places, which will end up costing the hookers and they’ll have no choice but to pass those costs along to the consumer. Not to mention that an unnecessary BJ scarcity could drive up the costs.

    I’m just saying, if Republicans want to be seen as good economic stewards, they’d go with Vegas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  12. andrew e. says:

    As a Denver man I’ll say the 2008 Democratic National Convention was fantastic. Loads of fun and happy people, great downtown activity (if you didn’t mind the fully-armored police presence); a celebratory atmosphere. By all accounts a good and successful event.

    That said please, God, give us the 2016 Republican National Convention. The entertainment value, I don’t even know where to begin…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  13. James Pearce says:

    @C. Clavin:

    A newly minted recreational marijuana industry that is creating a bunch of jobs and tax revenue, oh-by-the-way.

    And the biggest problem so far is that the industry doesn’t have access to banking services……

    Seriously, when the rest of the country gets around to legalization, they’ll wonder why we didn’t do it sooner.

    @Tillman:

    “If it’s just for the symbolism, they could go there as a surprise show of support for marijuana legalization”

    I’m skeptical that the GOP is ready to embrace marijuana legalization to appeal to libertarians. It’s not even clear that libertarians are ready to embrace marijuana legalization. In theory, sure….

    In practice, listen to them complain about plant limits, security requirements, and all the other regulations.

    I think most rank and file Republicans are iffy about legalization and very supportive of the regulations. In other words, the complete opposite of the libertarian view.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  14. superdestroyer says:

    Who cares? Is there anything less important that the Republican Convention in 2016? By the time of the convention, every tracking poll will probably be showing that the Republicans have no chance of winning the presidential race and the only question will be how many seats the Democrats pick up in the House and Senate.

    The only question for the Republican Convention in 2016 is whether it is the last convention that people consider relevant or the first convention that the MSM will feel comfortable ignoring since it will be irrelevant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Mr. Coffee says:

    @superdestroyer: Is there anything less important that (sic) the Republican Convention in 2016?

    Your opinion on the subject? (Just a guess…)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  16. Matt Bernius says:

    @superdestroyer:

    By the time of the convention, every tracking poll will probably be showing that the Republicans have no chance of winning the presidential race and the only question will be how many seats the Democrats pick up in the House and Senate.

    Serious question SD, do you forsee a period (during the transition to a 1 party state), that there will be a “stable cycle” of Democrats winning the Presidency and making gains (if not out and out taking over Congress) in Presidential election, only to keep losing control of it in Midterms?

    For example, do you predict the Republicans will retake the Senate this year?

    Or is your hypothesis that once the Republicans lose the House, that’s “game over” forever?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  17. superdestroyer says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Once the Republicans lose the House, then no pundit, wonk, commentator, or political scientist will be able to argue that the U.S. is a two party state. The Republicans may be able to win back a few seats in 2018 but then lose all of the gains and more in 2020. Once the Democrats have control of most redistricting in 2020, they will be able to redistrict the Republicans out of existence. Given that 99% of the Ivy Leaguers will be liberal Democrats by then, there will be no one of run for office as a Republican after that point.

    I always thought that 2032 would be the last election where the Republicans were relevant but the competence of the Bush Clan, the establishment Republicans, and operators like Karl Rove have just moved up the time table by 16 years.

    Why will any part of the media want to pretend that the Republicans have a chance of winning in 2016 (or 2020) when every modeler will be showing that the Republicans have no chance. How can the U.S. get excited about a national presidential election when the Republicans have no chance to win?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. M. Bouffant says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I always thought that 2032 would be the last election where the Republicans were relevant but the competence of the Bush Clan, the establishment Republicans, and operators like Karl Rove have just moved up the time table by 16 years.

    Well, whose fault is it? The Republicans who couldn’t tell their behinds from their elbows, or the hideous liberal infiltration of everything:

    Given that 99% of the Ivy Leaguers will be liberal Democrats by then, there will be no one to run for office as a Republican after that point.

    Either way, I must admit superdestroyer’s (oft-repeated) vision of a one-party future always cheers me up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @M. Bouffant:

    I know, it’s like, wait a minute, is this dystopia? No, it’s utopia. A world without Republicans. It’s like a world without sexually transmitted diseases: there are at least a couple years of enjoyment to be had there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  20. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Franklin: Well, yes. Street prostitution is illegal in Vegas. How are the leaders of the party going to party without knowing where to go?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. superdestroyer says:

    @M. Bouffant:

    I have long realized that as the U.S. becomes a one party state politics will become a fight among different ethnic and other organized groups over entitlements, who gets them, and who pays for them. Then this week, Ta-Nehisi Coates publishes a long article in The Atlantic (cite) proving me correct.

    However, I guess laughing about totally irrelevant Republicans like Christine O’Donnell or Sarah Palin is too hard to resist for progressive rather than thinking about the long term consequences of the U.S. having one relevant political party and having the Democratic Party Primaries as the only relevant elections in the U.S.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: Bet you didn’t read that article, did you? Because there’s no way you could read the whole thing and come away with nothing more than “scary dark people want to steal all my money.”

    Unless you are a complete idiot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. yetanotherjohn says:

    Cleveland makes the most sense politically. Ohio is a worthy political prize, more worthy than Colorado. The only things to favor Denver is the state being up for grabs in 2016 and they are likely to have the closest senate election of the four. Kansas and Missouri are likely to fall to the GOP anyway while Ohio is more in doubt but imminently doable. Texas is a foregone conclusion.
    If the GOP wants to play it safe, they will go with Dallas for the warm welcome. If they want to be more aggressive about winning in 2016, they go with Cleveland.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0