The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

February 28, 2014

Cincy, Cleveland, Columbus make RNC convention cut

COLUMBUS — Ohio’s three largest cities — Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus — have been named finalists in the competition to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus named the three among the party’s eight finalists Thursday on Twitter. They join Denver, Dallas, Kansas City, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

It’s the first time in modern memory that all three have bid to host the convention in the same year, with Cincinnati’s bid coming in just under the wire of a Wednesday deadline.

Former longtime Ohio Republican Chairman Bob Bennett says he’d like to see the perennial swing state chosen.

“Not in all my time in politics I don’t ever recall three (Ohio) cities bidding at the same time,” Bennett said. “I’m in favor of it coming to the Midwest anyway, because Ohio is a battleground state.”

Party and city officials in the three Ohio metropolises are counting on the state’s pivotal role in electing presidents to boost the chances that the party will pick one of their cities for its biggest event.

No Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio, and it’s been half a century since a Democrat — John F. Kennedy — won the presidency without Ohio.

The state also is known as “the mother of presidents,” with eight to its name.

It’s clear “the road to the White House runs through Ohio,” Ohio Republican Chairman Matt Borges said, pledging his party’s support to land a bid for any one of the cities.

“Not only does Ohio have three world-class cities capable of hosting a national convention, but bringing one here would put our candidate and party’s message directly in front of voters,” he said in a statement.

Landing a convention also is a potential boon to tourism for any host city, bringing visitors and attention to the area surrounding the event.

“It’s tremendous publicity for the host city, not only nationally but internationally,” Bennett said. “It would help economic development statewide if an Ohio city is chosen.”

With all three in the running, Ohio’s chances of hosting are heightened, though Las Vegas is widely considered the front-runner.

Representatives from the cities will make presentations at the site selection meeting in Washington on Monday.

RNC spokesman Ryan Mahoney said the panel will announce by mid-March the sites it will visit and name a narrowed list of finalists in late spring after making the visits. The full Republican National Committee will cast ballots for the host city in late summer or early fall.

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