Demographics loom large for cities vying for Republican 2016 convention
January 23rd, 2014
05:12 PM ET
7 months ago

Demographics loom large for cities vying for Republican 2016 convention

Washington (CNN) - Behind the glitzy photos spreads, the slick highlight reels and the overstuffed swag bags, a few cities vying to hold the Republican National Convention in 2016 are making demographics a subtle but important part of their pitch to Republican Party leaders.

For Western cities like Las Vegas, Denver and Phoenix – all of which are vying to hold the party's presidential nomination convention – their pitches could be boiled down to this: We have both the infrastructure and political symbolism you need.

"I think the West is where a lot of our battlegrounds are because of the demographics and the populations in our community that we need to do a better job, as a party, appealing to," said Ryan Call, state chairman for Colorado Republican Party.

After President Barack Obama won over 70% of the Hispanic population in his 2012 defeat of Republican Mitt Romney, the GOP has tried to make a concerted effort to reach the growing demographic.

In their highly-talked about "Growth & Opportunity Report," where the RNC gave blunt recommendations in how to retool the party, making inroads with Hispanic voters was a substantial part of those suggestions. "It is imperative that the RNC changes how it engages with Hispanic communities to welcome in new members of our Party," the report stated.

And the hopeful host cities have noticed.

"The demographics of our community is very important" to our pitch, said Gordon James, member of Arizona committee.

"The Mountain West is an important region for the Republican Party to recapture and hold, and a big part of that is the Hispanic vote and the growing Asian vote as well," said Ryan Erwin, a member of the Las Vegas committee. "Everybody kind of understands that Nevada is a battle ground and the Hispanic population is a piece of that equation."

Nevada boasts a 27% Hispanic population, while Colorado is 21% Hispanic. Arizona is the most Hispanic state bidding with 30% of its population identifying as Hispanic or Latino, according to the Census bureau.

Hosting the major party event is regularly seen as a party planting a flag in the host state. When Democrats held the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, the party was saying they planned to go big in the usually red state. Same goes for the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa Bay, Florida.

The event is also highly symbolic, with each party selecting a site that contributes to their party's narrative and story.

"If you think about Phoenix and the symbolism behind the Phoenix, it's the rise, it's the rebirth, it's restrengthening the party again," said Robert Graham, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party. "When you think about the rise of the Republican Party as it is going to be in 2016, Phoenix is the perfect symbolic location for what we are trying to accomplish in 2016."

Other, non-Western states in bidding for the event are Columbus, Ohio and Kansas City, Missouri. Columbus is pitching itself as an important bellwether city in an important swing state. Kansas City is branding itself as the symbol of the American heartland. "All roads lead to here," reads the state's signs.

Although the Western states are making demographic advantages part of their pitch, a source close to the RNC's decision making process said there are four primary criteria the committee is looking at: ease of transportation, available hotel rooms, viable security options and the amount of money each state committee can raise to put on the event.

"It is a political decision, so obviously there are going to be political considerations along with the facilities and can you raise the money needed," said the source.

The investment to host a convention can be substantial. Cities raise money from business and political interests in each state and regularly invest in infrastructure improvements to sweeten the deal.

But the payoffs are also too big to ignore.

"For any city, whether it is Denver or any of the other cities being talked about, the potential for economic benefit for the region and for the city is quite substantial," said Call. "When the Democratic convention came to Colorado in 2008, the benefit economically to the city has been projected well in excess of 260 million dollars."

The RNC is holding their winter confab in Washington this week and tomorrow, eight Republican leaders will be tasked with selecting the site for the 2016 convention. Former Congresswoman Enid Mickelsen, a party committeewoman, will head up the effort.

Each city will submit their pitch for the convention by the end of February and the committee expects to pick the winner in late August.


Filed under: 2016 • Arizona • Colorado • Missouri • Nevada • Ohio • RNC
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Frankly, NV does not deserve to host, because their Senator is holding America hostage to the dictator.

    January 23, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  2. Thomas

    Ted Cruz / Chris Christie
    Viva Las Vegas tour 2016

    January 23, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  3. Harold Read

    The GOP needs to cater to criminal immigrants like the Democrats do all the time. Promise them amnesty for blatantly breaking the law and the Latino community will eat it up like candy! Screw Legal American Citizens, the Criminal Immigrants vote is the way to go!!!

    January 23, 2014 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  4. American Worker

    It now seems that the U.S. is divided between people that are 'Free Range' or 'Stockyard'.

    Sad thing is that the 'Stockyard' people need the 'Free Range' people to provide for them.

    And the Stockyard Bosses are doing all they can to make the Free Range Workers do it.

    January 23, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  5. chrissy

    Seriously? Does the GOTP really think they have a snowballs chance you know where, of getting a large percentage of the Latino vote??? Wow! Delusional much?

    January 24, 2014 01:10 am at 1:10 am |