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By Maeve Reston, Los Angeles Times

Cleveland was picked Tuesday by the Republican National Committee’s site selection panel to host the GOP’s national convention in 2016.

Cleveland edged out five other finalist cities: Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City and Las Vegas in the hotly contested race that brought in each state’s power players and top fundraisers. Dallas was the last city in the running before the site selection committee made its decision Tuesday.

The RNC and Cleveland are now slated to begin negotiations on final details. The recommendation will be submitted for a vote by Republican National Committee members at their August meeting in Chicago.

The choice of the mighty swing state of Ohio has already renewed debate over whether the site of the party’s convention can help generate excitement among the state’s voters and help tilt the election in the GOP’s favor. But that political theory has been disproved time and time again.

Though Republicans held their convention in Tampa in 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney ultimately lost the state to President Barack Obama by a narrow margin. But Romney won North Carolina, where the Democrats had held their 2012 convention in Charlotte, by 3 percentage points.

As various cities submitted their bids this year, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus played down the importance of choosing a swing state that might have a bearing on the party’s chances of winning the White House. In a call with reporters earlier this year, Priebus stressed that the top concern was selecting a city that could produce a logistically smooth convention, including the capacity to house as many as 50,000 delegates in area hotels and ensure transportation for them around the city.

To address those concerns, Cleveland and Dallas had both committed to raising nearly $70 million to cover expenses and security for the four-day event.

On Tuesday, Priebus said a Cleveland convention would offer the GOP “a great stepping-stone to the White House in 2016.”

“The team from Cleveland has gone above and beyond the call of duty, and I think they’re representative of a city eager to show the country all the fantastic things they have to offer,” Priebus said. “Not only will the convention be held earlier in 2016, but there are also substantial guarantees in place for funding that put us well ahead of previous conventions and will give our nominee the best opportunity to succeed.”

Ohio’s leaders heralded the decision as a boon for the city. Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said the choice represented another step forward in Cleveland’s renaissance. Ohio Governo John Kasich — a potential 2016 presidential candidate — told reporters that the decision would “put Ohio at the top of (the) stack of states.”

RNC officials were in Cleveland last week visiting the Quicken Loans Arena. Since Republicans want to hold an earlier convention in June or July, one consideration in the final Dallas-Cleveland competition was whether the cities would be able to guarantee the availability of their arenas several weeks before the convention regardless of the NBA schedule.

Cleveland had been trying to accommodate that request, while touting the $5 billion in public and private investment that the city has put into their downtown core over the last few years.

Photo: DonkeyHotey via Flickr


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