Las Vegas comes out ahead in GOP convention matchups


Before anything else is said about Las Vegas’ bid to host the 2016 Republican National Convention, know this: There is no reason we shouldn’t win.

As Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki — chairman of the nonprofit host committee assembling the bid — noted during a sit-down with the Review-Journal editorial board on Monday, Las Vegas has everything going for it. We have enough hotel rooms, at least three venues that could host the event, outstanding entertainment options and vast experience hosting large events. Nobody else can match Las Vegas’ advantages.

Krolicki was too polite to note the downsides of our potential competitors. And the top Republican consultants helping with the bid — Ryan Erwin, Mike Slanker and Jack St. Martin — are on their best behavior, although they could easily fashion wicked attack ads that would blow the other would-be host cities out of the water.

So I guess it’s up to me. Here’s my list of reasons why the other cities purportedly in competition for the convention shouldn’t get it over Las Vegas.

■ Kansas City: Outside of good barbecue and a new arena, this city has virtually nothing to recommend it to the Republican faithful. And there’s bad juju: It was the city in which Republicans gathered in 1976 to nominate Gerald Ford instead of Ronald Reagan for the presidency. Ford, of course, went on to lose to Jimmy Carter.

■ Denver: The Mile High City can host a convention — Democrats held theirs in Denver in 2008. But that’s the problem: Any convention held there would inevitably invite comparisons to the hope-and-change year in which Barack Obama filled what’s now known as Sports Authority Field at Mile High stadium. If the GOP nominee can’t draw a stadium-filling crowd, a Denver convention will suffer by comparison.

■ New Orleans: For a Republican convention? Probably not a good idea. This Democratic city is still a little sore over the whole Hurricane Katrina thing. At least until memories fade (and TV shows set in post-Katrina New Orleans, such as HBO’s “Treme,” are off the air) it’s probably a good idea to make like President George W. Bush and just fly over.

■ Phoenix: In the summer? It’s hotter than Las Vegas, without the air-conditioned casinos. Plus, more bad juju: This is the city where U.S. Sen. John McCain conceded to Barack Obama in front of a catcalling crowd that hasn’t shut up since.

■ Salt Lake City: They’re Republicans. They’re not dead.

■ Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus: All three cities in the critical swing state of Ohio are rumored to be interested. And frankly, Republicans need to win Ohio to win the presidency, and an Ohio convention would boost their chances. The downside? Nobody has ever associated these cities with any type of fun-having. “I’m going to Cleveland!” just doesn’t have the ring of “I’m going to Vegas, baby!”

■ Chicago: The Windy City recently lost the honor of having the tallest building in the nation to New York City, but assumed the title of murder capital of the U.S., according to the FBI. Plus, former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is mayor, and you just know that’s a recipe for trouble.

■ Detroit: A judge ruled this week that the city is entitled to file the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States. While it might be tempting to convene here and use the city as a metaphor for the failures of Democratic governance, there’s such a thing as too literal.

■ Dallas: Just as we’ve forgotten George W. Bush and Gov. Rick Perry, we’re going to set up shop in their home state? A state known as headquarters for Big Oil, big execution and restricting abortion rights? As the noisome phrase goes, “bad optics.”

■ Orlando: A Mickey Mouse convention? When Republicans wish upon a star, it probably doesn’t involve another slog to Florida in the summertime. No offense, Orlando, but when the temperature and the humidity both exceed 100, it’s time to move on.

That leaves beautiful Las Vegas (temporary convention motto: “But it’s a dry heat!”). Do the right thing, Republican National Committee. Brian Krolicki and his team would never lead you astray!

Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist and author of the blog SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or ssebelius@reviewjournal.com.