Cleveland? Really, Republicans? Cleveland?
The site-selection committee of the Republican National Committee has recommended the city of Cleveland, Ohio, as the location for the 2016 nominating convention. “We couldn’t be more excited. It’s a city that’s on the rise,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
Sure it is. Because that’s the only direction it can go! Bazinga!
By landing on Cleveland, the RNC passed over bids from several other cities, including Denver, Phoenix, Dallas, Kansas City, Mo., and two other Ohio cities, Columbus and Cincinnati. But it was Dallas that emerged as the top competitor to Cleveland, with plenty of room for convention-goers and plenty of fundraising potential.
Then again, I suppose if the RNC had selected Dallas, there’d have been a really good chance that ex-President George W. Bush or by-then ex-Gov. Rick Perry or incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz would find a microphone and bring the whole thing crashing down.
So, Cleveland it is. Yay?
Now, there are bound to be some who say I’m upset because Cleveland was chosen and Las Vegas — also an early contender — was not. But I would remind those naysayers Cleveland didn’t beat out Las Vegas — in fact, Las Vegas opted to “defer our bid effort to the 2020 Republican National Convention opportunity when Las Vegas will potentially be a in better position to guarantee these infrastructure and bid requirements.”
So there, Cleveland.
Las Vegas is so popular, it couldn’t possibly let it’s nation-leading convention center go dark for around a month, a requirement to host a National Special Security Event such as a political nomination convention. And the RNC wanted a traditional arena-style setup anyway, not a custom-built arrangement inside a convention hall.
Other than that, what does Cleveland have that Las Vegas doesn’t? I mean, other than a sports team named for Native Americans that doesn’t annoy Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, at least not yet?
Yeah, Cleveland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but so what? We’ve got actual rock and roll, up and down the Strip, with live shows put on by real bands outside a museum setting. Cleveland boasts hometown baseball, basketball and football teams, but can you bet on the games like you can in Las Vegas? Hell, no. Cleveland does have a casino — the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, co-owned by Caesars Entertainment. But get this: That casino is built inside a former department store! Yeah, the Wynn it’s not. And while Cleveland may boast the house from “A Christmas Story,” Las Vegas has appeared in more movies than anybody has ever thought about making in Cleveland.
Meanwhile, we’ve got the finest convention city in America, complete with fine dining, excellent shopping and enough space to accommodate the entire population of Cleveland.
This choice makes me wonder, however, how Las Vegas would have fared if we hadn’t — what’s the phrase? — deferred our bid effort to the 2020 Republican National Convention opportunity. If Cleveland is the kind of place Republicans ended up choosing, did Las Vegas even really have a chance? Or is our city just too exciting and full of temptations for the RNC?
The only thing Cleveland does have that Las Vegas does not is votes. Ohio has 16 electoral votes, and they are must-win for Republican presidential contenders. Nevada has six, and we’ve gone back and forth over the past 20 years in terms of which president we select. In fact, last year I asked organizers of the Nevada 2016 effort to put themselves in the shoes of national strategists: If you could have one state in your column for sure on Election Day 2016, Nevada or Ohio, which would you choose? They gave me knowing glances in return.
Remember how shocked and dejected poor Karl Rove looked on Fox News in 2012, when everybody (including Fox’s own analysts) declared Ohio had gone for President Obama? He knew what that loss meant for the campaign of Republican Mitt Romney: doom. Maybe by having the convention in Cleveland, Ohio voters won’t forget the Republican nominee come Election Day.
Because other than that, picking Cleveland over Dallas, Denver, Phoenix or Las Vegas is a deep, dark mystery.
Steve Sebelius is a Las Vegas Review-Journal political columnist who blogs at SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.