Local Columnists

June 5, 2014

Dave Helling: Dear GOP, here’s why you should bring the convention to Kansas City

We aren’t rock ’n’ roll Cleveland or mile-high Denver or way-too-hot Dallas. But we do have a convenient site, great attractions and plenty of hardworking, fair-minded people.

Dear members of the GOP site selection committee:

Good morning. Hope you all made it home safely and enjoyed your visit to Kansas City this week. Thanks for breaking our drought.

It looks like you’ve got a tough choice to make later this summer. You’ve seen Cleveland. Dallas and Denver are next week.

We can guess what you may be thinking. Cleveland is in Ohio, a state you’d really like to win in 2016. Dallas has big-time money and lots of hotel space. Denver is in the cool mountains, with a nice light rail system. All logical choices.

But Kansas City has a few things going for it too, as you now know. We’re convenient. Delegates who tire of the speeches at the Sprint Center can walk across the street for a beer. We’ve got great museums, a world-class art gallery, an amazing center for performing arts. There are plenty of places to relax and talk politics.

We trust you know about the barbecue. If not, email the mayor and he’ll ship you a slab.

(While you’re thinking about the convention site, by the way, please consider shrinking the thing to three days and moving it to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That would be cheaper — you like that — and more people will watch.)

Like other cities, of course, we’ve got problems you probably didn’t see. Our crime rate is too high and our schools need work. We wish we could offer more downtown hotel rooms and better ways to get around. That entertainment district costs us a lot of money every year, so our sidewalks are a little iffy.

But Cleveland is rock ’n’ roll. Don’t you prefer country? And did you know you can smoke marijuana in Denver? More than 15,000 journalists will be there. Yikes.

Dallas is too hot, too busy in the early summer and, uh, I forget what its third problem is.

Every city seeking your convention has challenges. That means you may base your decision on where you think delegates will feel most comfortable.

So let me offer this: I’ve covered 13 national political conventions, and I’m pretty sure Kansas City’s welcome and enthusiasm will exceed all of them.

Like many midsize cities, Kansas City has a bit of an inferiority complex. While that can be exasperating, it also ensures the folks here will work pretty hard to make you happy. You may have sensed that this week.

More important, Kansas Citians will give your party a fair, honest hearing. Some will agree with your politics, some won’t. But the Kansas City I know will listen to your nominee with an open mind — exactly what you’ll want the country to do.

And really: Cleveland? Denver? Uh, what’s that third city again?

Sincerely, Dave.

To reach Dave Helling, call 816-234-4656 or send email to dhelling@kcstar.com.

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