- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) - Cleveland and Cincinnati are the two Ohio cities still in contention to host the 2016 Republican National Convention with the list of possible cities narrowed to six on Wednesday.

Columbus, the third Ohio city to bid for the convention, has been knocked out of competition along with Phoenix.

The Republican National Committee said the four other sites still in the running are Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Mo., and Las Vegas.

A Republican team will visit the six cities for a more in-depth look at financing, convention venues, media workspace, and hotels. The selection committee will then decide after the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting which of the six cities will receive official site visits from the full committee delegation. The final decision is due by fall.

At stake is a national convention that brings in as many as 45,000 visitors and up to $200 million for the local economy.

Ohio has not hosted a national political convention since 1936, and the Ohio Republican Party chairman said in a statement Wednesday that the state party will do everything possible to support Cincinnati’s and Cleveland’s bids. No Republican has ever taken the White House without Ohio.

“The road to the White House runs through Ohio, which makes us the perfect state to host the Republican National Convention,” state party Chairman Matt Borges said.

Las Vegas has emerged as an early leader in the competition, but Cuyahoga County Republican Party Chairman Rob Frost said having three cities bid and two make the latest cut illustrates Ohio’s importance in national elections.

“I think that’s a real strength,” Frost said, adding that it was up to Cleveland to show it can meet all the requirements for the convention.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said that city’s fundraising efforts are “coming along well.” He declined to discuss the details.

Republican officials have stressed that the city hosting the convention must raise $55 million in private funds and have sufficient convention and hotel space and adequate accommodations for the media.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said in a statement that Cincinnati is confident it will be at the top of the list once the committee sees all the city has to offer.

In a statement congratulating Cincinnati and Cleveland, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman said Columbus was proud of the work it had done to pursue the convention. The city is planning to pursue the Democratic National Convention, Coleman spokesman Dan Williamson said Wednesday.

Ohio has been hoping to reassert its political clout with the three bids for the Republican convention. But the state is competing against fast-growing states with newer infrastructure and the more diverse electorate that the party is trying to attract.


Associated Press writer Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.

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