- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Another mystery surrounding this summer’s Republican National Convention has been settled — state delegation hotel assignments.

And as with Mitt Romney’s presumptive nod for the presidential nomination, not everyone in the party is happy about where they will be staying for the August event in Tampa, Fla.

With hotel space limited near the downtown arena where the bulk of events will be held, the RNC’s Committee on Arrangements was forced to place many of the delegations more than 20 miles away in hotels along the St. Petersburg and Clearwater beaches, or in suburban areas north of Tampa. And with the Tampa Bay area’s notoriously congested roads and bridges, commute times to and from some hotels could easily top 30 to 40 minutes.

The Florida delegation will stay at the Innisbrook Golf Resort in suburban Palm Harbor, more than 30 miles from the convention site. And while the luxury hotel sports a golf course frequently used for PGA events, the assignment didn’t sit well with Florida Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry.

“The proximity is frustrating, but it is what it is,” Mr. Curry said. “I would have liked to have been a little bit closer, not for me for but for the sake of our delegates.”

Some have speculated that Florida’s hotel assignment was a punishment for the state party moving up its presidential primary to January in violation of RNC rules — an accusation the national party denies.

“It’s a really nice place, so there was no penalty,” said James Davis, a spokesman with the Committee on Arrangements.

The South Carolina delegation, whose state also moved up its primary against party wishes, also was assigned to Innisbrook.

Three state delegations will be staying downtown: Massachusetts, where Mr. Romney served as governor; Michigan, where he grew up; and Wisconsin, the home of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

The Texas delegation has been assigned to the Saddlebrook Resort more than 20 miles from the downtown convention site, a decision Texas party Chairman Steve Munisteri called “demoralizing.”

“It makes no sense to us that you would put a delegation which has such as large number of people the second farthest away from the convention,” Mr. Munisteri said. “Other than Florida, I think we’re in the least desirable location, and Florida is being punished for not going by RNC rules, so we’re trying to figure out why we’re being punished.”

But Mr. Davis said the almost yearlong process of assigning hotels takes many factors into account, such as the size of each delegation, meeting room space and even handicap accessibility. Each delegation submits a list of its needs, but the Committee on Arrangements has the final say on where everyone will stay.

The committee also tries to house each delegation in only one hotel, a goal it achieved this year. The 56 delegations — one for every state, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories — will be staying in 36 hotels in three counties.

“The geography of the area is great in the sense that the collective Tampa Bay area has a lot of hotel rooms and so you don’t have to go as far out you’ve had to go in some conventions in the past,” Mr. Davis said.

The Democratic National Convention Committee announced its hotel assignments in February.