The Buzz

The facts, faces and hum of local politics with Steve Kraske and Dave Helling

The 2016 GOP convention cities, ranked

06/13/2014 10:26 AM

The balloons have deflated. The confetti has been swept away. The elephants are back to doing whatever it is they do.

Now that the GOP convention site selection committee has wrapped up its four-city tour, where do the competing cities — Denver, Dallas, Kansas City and Cleveland — stand?

No one knows. Anyone who says he or she knows is fibbing.

But what good is punditry if you can’t make an educated guess?

No good at all. So here’s a rough ranking of where the cities might be, along with pros and cons for all of them.

Caution: this is pure speculation, based on conversations, committee statements, reading, and sticking a wet thumb in the air (I picked Cincinnati as the favorite in the round of six, fwiw):

1. CLEVELAND. Odds: 5-1.

Advantages: Let’s say all four cities are technically equal: all have enough money, hotel rooms, transportation, and enthusiasm. Wouldn’t you go to the most competitive state on the presidential map in 2016?

I would. And despite their denials, so would the GOP. Travel times to Cleveland would also be shorter, on average, than to the other cities.

Disadvantages: Cleveland is heavily Democratic — it’s even bidding for the DNC. Its downtown is smaller than the RNC would like, and hotels farther out. It does have light rail.

2. DALLAS, 6-1.

Advantages: Maybe the cities aren’t equal. Dallas is clearly the safest choice: the most money, most hotel space, mass transit, Texas. Pick Dallas and you’ll avoid major problems and delegate unrest.

Disadvantages: The tea party, and Ted Cruz, have taken control of the state’s GOP apparatus, potentially providing reporters an easy the-GOP-is-split story in 2016. And, at the same time, the large Latino population in Texas makes immigration reform a story, something Republicans may want to avoid.

Dallas, like Denver and Cleveland, can’t hold the convention until mid-July, and GOP chairman Reince Priebus would prefer June. Dallas is hot in July.

3. KANSAS CITY, 8-1.

Advantages: Kansas City officials seem strangely confident about their bid — they’re competitive financially, the Sprint Center shows well, the next-door entertainment district is a bonus. The central time zone helps, as does the vague Ronald Reagan connection.

Kansas City is the only city available for the June date, what Priebus called “a nice little nugget.”

Disadvantages: The Kansas City metro is the smallest of the four communities in the running. It still lacks close-in hotel space and robust mass transit, making it a bigger gamble than either Dallas or Denver.

4. DENVER, 10-1.

Advantages: The coolest place to go, in every sense. Plenty of room, plenty of transit, lots of experience. July in the mountains? Sweet.

Disadvantages: No June date, a bit behind in fundraising, potential comparisons with Barack Obama in 2008, mountain time zone.

Oh, and you can buy pot in Denver.

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So there you go. The list could change: all the cities appear fairly close. The committee will have to balance competing and conflicting interests — is the heat in Dallas a bigger problem than hotel rooms in KC? How can you gauge that?

A decision is expected in August. But the actual choice may come in the next two or three weeks: by the 4th of July, the party will likely narrow its choices to a couple of cities.

Then the pencil-pushing begins, with an announcement to follow.

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