Cleveland wins 2016 GOP National Convention

Cleveland wins 2016 GOP National Convention

Downtown Cleveland.
Downtown Cleveland as seen from a major bridge running over the legendary Cuyahoga River. (Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2014 – Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus announced on Fox News today that his party will hold its 2016 National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, a battleground state his nominee will badly need to win in that year’s critical Presidential contest.

“We couldn’t be more excited,” Priebus exulted earlier today in a Fox interview. “It’s a city that’s on the rise.” Surprisingly, for many, Cleveland beat out Dallas for the honor after the candidate cities were boiled down to just these two. The full RNC committee is likely to ratify their site selection committee’s choice this August.

A more modern view of Cleveland from Lake Erie, directly outside the Rock Hall of Fame.
A more modern view of Cleveland from Lake Erie, directly outside the Rock Hall of Fame. (Wikipedia)

As of today, Republican Party plans are to hold an early convention in Cleveland, perhaps as early as the end of June 2016, to get a jump on coverage for their Presidential ticket.

“This is great news for Cleveland and our entire state,” Sen. Rob Portman, (R-Ohio) proclaimed in a prepared statement. “It’s a unique opportunity to showcase the new Cleveland as one of America’s great cities, and to bring dollars and jobs to Ohio,” the statement continued.

“I am really proud of the way the Cleveland community has come together to support the first national convention in Ohio since 1936. The Cleveland community deserves the credit for making it happen,” Portman proclaimed

One of the key issues for the Republicans this time around was the small matter of money, as it so often is in politics. The GOP has bled precious dollars in its past two national conventions, leaving it short of money for the actual presidential campaigns that follow.

Cleveland apparently presented the best financial package, likely figuring the convention—and its huge amount of add-on business—would be a big plus for this once major U.S. Rust Belt city as it attempts to regain traction for its economic comeback efforts.

Cuyahoga County Republicans were ecstatic over the news. “I think it’s great,” Rob Frost, the Cuyahoga County Republican Party Chairman, said in an interview late Tuesday morning reported on, the Internet arm of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Now seemingly a permanent minority in this city, Cleveland and Ohio Republicans, driven largely by J.D. Rockefeller and the Hanna Gang, used this onetime key industrial city and its immense business base to launch a wave of Republicans into the White House after the Civil War. The list includes U.S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, William Howard Taft and Warren G. Harding. Even President Benjamin Harrison, a proud resident of Indiana, was actually born in Ohio. So Republican leaders there might be forgiven for enjoying a little bit of déjà vu this afternoon, even if they weren’t around for that post-Civil War string of Ohio Republican triumphs.

“I’m really excited to welcome our Republican colleagues from around the nation to Cleveland in 2016. I think this convention will really elevate Cleveland in the eyes of the nation, and elevate Republicans in the eyes of Cleveland,” the paper reported. He also praised the efforts of current Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who is a Democrat, in helping clinch the convention.

Quicken Loans Arena.
The availability of Quicken Loans Arena came into play in the GOP’s final decision. (Wikipedia)

Frost credited the unified effort of local business, civic and political leaders for helping to bring the convention in. He particularly singled out Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, a Democrat.

Even Cuyahoga County Executive, Democrat Ed Fitzgerald was unable to contain his enthusiasm. “This is great news for Northeast Ohio,” he noted in a written release. “There’s no question Cleveland is now in the middle of a historic renaissance.” Fitzgerald, the former mayor of Cleveland’s nearest western suburb, Lakewood, will likely be Republican Governor John Kasich’s opponent in Ohio’s next gubernatorial contest.

What swung the RNC to put its next convention in Cleveland? It was likely a combination of swing state politics, which weighed heavily on Republican minds. But also, since Cleveland lost its 2008 bid for the convention, the city has added considerable hotel space and a new convention center

Cleveland’s convention pitch was rooted in political geography and in a downtown renaissance that leaders said occurred after the city lost its bid for the GOP’s 2008 convention. Since that audition, Cleveland has added more hotel rooms and a new convention center. The fact that the early availability of Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, home of the city’s NBS Basketball Cavaliers, was confirmed was also a plus. The Party is apparently planning to hold floor events at that venue.

But the fact that Cleveland also pledged to raise upwards of $60 million to support the convention likely didn’t hurt either in the final analysis.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17