RELATED: Republican party panel taps Cleveland for 2016 convention
By David Skolnick
The Republican National Committee’s decision to have its 2016 convention in Cleveland will not only showcase that city, but all of Northeast Ohio and the entire state to the rest of the country, local politicians say.
“This will highlight the tremendous assets of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and all of Northeast Ohio,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th. “The Republican National Convention means jobs, economic development and a positive focus on our region.”
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus announced Tuesday that the party’s site-selection committee recommended Cleveland as the location of the GOP’s 2016 convention contingent on successful contract nego-tiations and a final vote by RNC national committee members at its summer meeting Aug. 6-9 in Chicago. The committee chose Cleveland over Dallas. They were the two final cities in the running for the convention.
“What a great day for Republicans in Ohio,” said Mahoning County GOP Chairman Mark Munroe. “Ohio Republicans can be so proud of the presentation they made. This is proof once again that presidential politics will start and will finish in Ohio. We’re looking forward to it. It’s great news.”
Columbiana County Republican Chairman Dave Johnson, who’s attended the past seven GOP national conventions, added: “It’s fantastic for Ohio and Northeast Ohio. It points to the significance of Ohio in national presidential campaigns. I couldn’t be happier about it.”
Mahoning County Democratic Chairman David Betras said, “It’s going to be great for Northeast Ohio. Conventions come with a lot of economic activity.”
Republicans are planning the convention for late June with Quicken Loans Arena as the location for the major floor events.
With the Cleveland Cavaliers, which plays home games at the arena, being among the worst teams in the NBA the last four years, it is considered highly unlikely at this point that the indoor facility would be needed for the league’s championship series, expected to be played at the same time as the convention.
But some raised the possibility of that happening should LeBron James decide to sign with the Cavaliers, the team that drafted him and lost him four seasons ago to the Miami Heat. James led the Heat to four-consecutive NBA finals, winning two, but recently opted out of his contract with Miami.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from the Cincinnati area who lobbied the RNC to have the convention in Cleveland, said if the Cavaliers made it to the championship series in the 2015-16 season, the team would work out a backup plan.
Also during a Tuesday conference call with reporters, Portman — who, along with Gov. John Kasich, are mentioned as potential Republican presidential candidates for 2016 — was asked about a presidential run by an Ohio Republican.
Portman joked that freshman U.S. Rep. David Joyce of Russell, R-14th, was giving serious consideration to running for president.
“Cleveland definitely has what it takes to host a top-notch Republican National Convention,” Joyce said.
“City leaders from both parties worked tirelessly on this bid, and I was honored to support their efforts.”
Joyce added that the “announcement is the first step toward showcasing Cleveland’s revitalization on the national stage in 2016.”
Despite Ohio being a key swing-state in presidential politics, this is the first time since 1936 that a major political party had their national convention in the state. The Republicans had their convention that year in Cleveland, nominating Kansas Gov. Alfred Landon as president. Landon went on to lose to Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Nov. 3, 1936, election in the most lopsided presidential race in terms of electoral votes in history — 523 to 8.
Six cities — including Columbus and Cleveland — submitted proposals to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Getting the Republican convention means Cleveland will be out of the running for the Democratic event, but it still leaves Columbus.
When asked how likely it would be for the Democrats to choose Columbus, Portman said, “I really don’t know. There’s not a modern example of a state getting both” major-party conventions in the same year.
But Ryan is holding out hope.
“This is yet another reminder of just how important our great state is to the nation and I call on the Democratic Party for this one and only time to follow the Republican Party’s lead and host our convention in Ohio,” he said.
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, the Democratic nominee for governor, said, “This is an incredible victory for Northeast Ohio and the hardworking men and women who live here. Hosting our first national convention in 80 years will bring as much as $200 million in economic benefits to our region, strengthen our local tourism industry, and help tell the story of Cleveland’s ongoing renaissance to the rest of the nation.”