- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) - Cleveland remains the only Ohio city in contention to host the 2016 Republican National Convention, after Cincinnati formally withdrew its bid.

The Republican National Committee made the announcement Thursday, paring down its list from six to four. The other cities still in the running besides Cleveland are Dallas, Denver and Kansas City.

Prior to the RNC committee’s vote, Las Vegas also formally withdrew its bid. Columbus, Ohio, was dropped from the list in an earlier round.

Republican officials plan to pick the host city by late summer.

“We are thrilled that Cleveland has been named a finalist to host the 2016 convention,” said Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges. “We now look forward to doing all we can to bring the convention to Cleveland.”

Cleveland was a convention runner-up for Republicans in 2008 and Democrats in 2012, bested by St. Paul, Minnesota, and Charlotte.

Ohio originally had three cities bidding for the convention, looking to reassert its political clout. But it faced some challenges against fast-growing states with newer infrastructure and a more diverse electorate.

In a statement, Cincinnati officials said they withdrew their bid after failing to meet RNC criteria regarding adequate convention facilities.

“We’re disappointed that Cincinnati wasn’t able to continue to the next round but we’re so proud we had the opportunity to participate in this very competitive process,” said John Barrett, who led the committee bidding for the convention in Cincinnati and is chairman of Western Southern Financial Group. “It may not be our time to host the Convention in 2016, but I’m confident - especially with the groundwork that has been laid in this process - that we’ll have that opportunity in the future.”

Ohio has voted for the winning presidential candidate in every election since 1964, and no Republican has ever taken the White House without the state. However, Ohio has not hosted a national political convention since 1936.

Cleveland officials say they are hopeful they can land the convention, having made improvements in recent years to build the city’s transportation and hotel networks.

“Today’s announcement offers further proof of the enormous progress we have made here in Cleveland and across all of Northeast Ohio,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. “There is no doubt that our city’s renaissance is fully underway, and I thank Mayor Jackson and the members of our respective councils for supporting this effort. I look forward to offering my full support to the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee as we continue preparations for the next steps in this process.”

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