The choice would be ideal for the GOP national leadership, putting the event in the swing state of Ohio, which has been critical to the Electoral College hopes of both parties in recent presidential elections.
The site selection committee recommended two dates for the convention, either June 27 or July 18. A final date is to be picked before the RNC meets for its annual meeting in August, the sources said. RNC chairman Reince Priebus has been pushing for a date in June.
That would put the convention two months ahead of previous conventions, giving the GOP nominee more time and money to fight off the attacks of Democrats.
Previously, Kansas City had been the only site that could host in June that also wasn’t unencumbered by sports teams’ conflicts of schedule. But Kansas City’s bid was hurt by a shortage of hotel rooms for the tens of thousands of delegates, officials and press expected to attend the national convention.
Dallas had been the last competitor to Cleveland but hadn’t been able to come up with the $50 million required for consideration. Cleveland was said to be “way ahead [in] financial pledges toward that $50 million.
Cleveland is also a finalist to host the Democratic convention, with party leaders also still weighing five other bids. The fact that the city will host the GOP gathering makes it highly unlikely it will also get the Democratic convention.
Organizers say the selection could be an economic coup for Cleveland.
In a post-convention report, organizers of Tampa, Florida’s 2012 GOP convention said its $58 million in fundraising resulted in a $214 million direct economic impact. Some 50,000 activists, officials and reporters descended on the area for the convention, officials said.
It also could be a boost for Cleveland’s image, which suffered from economic and environmental struggles in the 1970s but rebounded with an urban revival centered in part on the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“It provides us with an opportunity to showcase not only a great city but a great state and a great message,” Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges told The Associated Press.
Gone are the days when Cleveland’s polluted Cuyahoga River caught fire. The city, once dubbed “The Mistake by the Lake,” has undergone dramatic redevelopment in recent years — $4.5 billion in projects have been completed in the past decade or are about to begin construction.
The selection could also provide a small boost to Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich, considered a dark horse possibility for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is expected to announce a host city either late this year or early in 2015.
Cleveland last hosted the Republican convention in 1936. Kansas Gov. Alf Landon, the Republican nominee that year, lost the state by 21 points. Cleveland also hosted the 1924 GOP convention, renominating President Calvin Coolidge, and Republicans carried the state by 35 points.