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Government and Politics

Cleveland lands the 2016 GOP convention
Now Cleveland's host committee and the Republicans hammer out details of a contract in which the city promises to commit millions of dollars to the effort

Kevin Niedermier
Cuyahoga County Republican Party Chairman Rob Frost (L) talks with Democratic Mayor Frank Jackson (R) before today's press conference on winning the 2016 GOP convention. Bipartisanship is credited with helping attracting the event to Cleveland. At top is Bob Falls, president of Falls Communications which is helping with the convention effort.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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The Republicans are coming to Cleveland in 2016. Today, the Republican National Committee announced heavily Democratic Cleveland will host the GOP’s presidential convention, beating out heavily Republican Dallas. WKSU's Kevin Niedermier reports that the leaders of the effort credit bipartisanship, teamwork and community spirit.

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The last time Cleveland hosted a major political convention was 1936.

The city narrowly lost its bid to host the GOP’s 2008 convention. Since the last attempt, Cleveland has beefed up its ability to attract big events with a new convention center, a casino and hundreds more hotel rooms, some of which are still being built. After the announcement that Cleveland will host the 2016 Republican convention, Democratic Mayor Frank Jackson credited these factors, but said there was more to the decision.

Community spirit helped seal the deal
“We showed them we were hungry for this, and that if they came to Cleveland they would be the centerpiece not only of Cleveland but of the entire region. And as they went around the city on their site visits, people would say hello to them and give them thumbs up. So they knew that it wasn’t just coming from us as a tem, it was the entire community welcoming them and saying, 'We hope you pick Cleveland.'”

Jackson also credits the local Republican minority working with the Democratic majority. And Democratic Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald is credited with visiting the 2012 Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., to find out what worked and what didn’t, and bringing that information back to Cleveland. Jackson says much work still needs to be done to ensure the event is safe and to get the proper infrastructure in place.

Cleveland host committee Chairman Terry Egger says the committee and the RNC will now hammer out a contract, one he says local officials have already started working on to eliminate possible sticking points.

Now, comes the detail work
“They’ve been going over these issues for the last couple of days trying to get as many as possible knocked out of the way if we were selected, which we were. So, they’ll come back to Cleveland tomorrow or the next day and we’ll sit down as begin looking at all the deal points that go into a contract. Together we’ll work out a contract to sign with the host committee and the RNC.
"They will then take that to their convention in Chicago on Aug. 7th through the 9th that will be voted on there and that will officially seal the deal.” 

And Egger says Cleveland is well on its way to raising the $55 to 60 million required to host the event.    

Holding the convention in Cleveland should boost GOP candidates
Many consider the prospect of turning local undecided voters Republican for in the 2016 election a factor that helped Cleveland win the convention.

University of Akron political scientist John Green says 5 percent to more than 10 percent of undecided voters can be convinced to vote with the party holding its convention in their town. He says that’s especially important in a swing state like Ohio, where the last few presidential elections have been close. And Green says holding its convention in Cleveland may show what the Republican’s overall 2016 strategy will be.

“Ohio, being a close battleground state, is the kind of place where a more moderate Republican message that appeals to independents and people who are more moderate politically is likely to fit very well (with) having a convention in Cleveland. So, all of the things being equal, it’s likely to be a boost to the local Republicans and to the Republican presidential national ticket.
"But, of course lot depends on exactly what they do at the convention, and playing to the themes that work in Ohio are likely to work in other battleground states.”

The week-long convention is expected to bring about 50,000 people to Cleveland, and pump around $200 million into the local economy. City officials are also excited about what effect the hours of national and international media exposure will have on Cleveland’s image.

Cleveland is still technically in the running for the 2016 Democratic presidential convention. Though no official announcement has been made, the city is expected to drop out of that race, leaving Columbus to compete with four other cities for the Democrats’ event.

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