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Dallas And Cleveland Remain In Running To Host 2016 GOP Convention

Shelley Kofler
GOP officials visited Dallas earlier this month to scope out American Airlines Center, which would host the 2016 convention if Dallas is chosen.

And then there were two.

Dallas and Cleveland have been named the two remaining finalists to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Denver and Kansas City are out of the running.

A winner should be chosen in early August.

Enid Mickelsen, chair of the RNC's site selection committee, said in a statement:“Cleveland and Dallas demonstrated their ability to host a phenomenal convention in 2016, and the RNC is excited about the prospect of hosting our convention in either of these great cities. After visiting both cities, I can say to my fellow Republicans that we should be excited for the 2016 convention. These world class cities know how to roll out the welcome mat, and more importantly they have the ability to provide our next presidential nominee a launching pad that will put a Republican in the White House in 2016."

Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, says Dallas got a late start, launching its bid to host the convention only four months ago. But he says Big D has a big advantage – money.

Dallas says it already has more than $45 million of the $60 million lined up to host the convention -- more than the other competitors. Cleveland has commitments for about $25 million. 

“We’ve gone from probably last place to now in the top two. And our goal is to get it over the goal line,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “But they’re a strong competitor. … They’re going to do everything they can to try and win this for Cleveland. … Hopefully we’ll be selected based on the strength of our bid.”

A memorable Dallas visit

Convention organizers recently visited all four cities. Earlier this month, GOP officials were in Dallas. KERA’s Shelley Kofler reported:

At the American Airlines Center, members of the site selection walked the red carpet as they entered. They were met by cheerleaders for the Dallas Mavericks and Stars and by two elephants, representing the Republican Party’s mascot.

“I didn’t wake up this morning thinking I was going to pet a few elephants on my way into the arena. But that was a nice touch,” National Republican Party Chair Reince Priebus said. “Only in Dallas.”

A business decision

KERA's Shelley Kofler reported earlier this month:

Mickelsen and National Republican Party Chair Reince Priebus have made it clear that deciding among Dallas, Cleveland, Kansas City and Denver will be a business decision. At a Dallas press conference earlier this month, both suggested all the contenders have adequate hotels, transportation, arenas and hometown spirit. So what’s left?  It might be the $60 million the host city must raise. “Each city has come up with a different way they think they can get to that that money we think it’s going to take to put on the convention,” Mickelsen said. “So one of the things we have to weigh out is: How realistic are those plans and what confidence do we have in the various ways they have approached that?” Dallas says it would have access to $25 million the state makes available for big events. It’s already raised $20 million privately. That means it would need to come up with another $15 million.  That’s where Dallas businessman Ray Washburne might come in. Washburne just happens to be the National Republican Party’s finance chairman. So he knows how to raise money.   Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has announced Washburne would lead the host committee if Dallas is selected.   “The $60 million to raise is not going to be an easy figure for anyone. But this is the strongest donor base we have in the whole country is based in Dallas,” Washburne said. Ray Hunt and Harlan Crow are among the big Republican donors showing their support by hosting events during the visit by the RNC committee. Dallas will find out in August if its collection of contributors and its flair for the fantastic help seal the deal. That’s when Republican convention officials plan to announce its choice.

The competition

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's website,, reports on reaction from Ohio:

Cleveland's pitch included dinner receptions in Playhouse Square and at the Cleveland Museum of Art. At the latter, star draft pick Johnny Manziel and other rookies from the Cleveland Browns schmoozed the Republicans. "The feedback that we're getting is that the site selection committee of the RNC has been blown away by Cleveland," Cuyahoga County GOP Chairman Rob Frost told reporters after a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame breakfast with the site-selection team "And for all that was set up for them -- for the arranged events downtown and at The Q and out at University Circle and here at the Rock Hall -- it was the unplanned encounters that really sealed the deal with them, of their love for Cleveland."

Original post: Dallas, Denver, Cleveland and Kansas City are the four remaining finalists to host the convention. KUSA-TV in Denver is reporting that either Dallas will be named the host city or that Dallas and Denver will be named the remaining finalists. But national RNC officials are disputing the report.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reportsthat a Republican National Committee spokesman denies the KUSA report. But the Plain Dealer says: "Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges seemed resigned to a loss earlier Wednesday, when he said that the report from Denver matched up with 'scuttlebutt' he has heard in recent days. But Terry Egger, chairman of the Cleveland Host Committee,remained optimistic, saying the RNC had yet to tip its hand."

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.
Doualy Xaykaothao is a newscaster and reporter for NPR, based in Culver City. She returned to NPR for this role in 2018, and is responsible for writing, producing, and delivering national newscasts. She also reports on breaking news stories for NPR.