- Associated Press - Friday, May 23, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is the latest potential 2016 Republican presidential contender planning to visit swing-state Ohio.

Bush will headline a June 16 Republican National Committee fundraiser in Cincinnati with GOP chairman Reince Priebus.

That event follows a sold-out appearance May 16 by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at the Hamilton County Republican Party’s Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner. Paul, who’s acknowledged that he is considering a run for the nomination, said he will return to Cincinnati in July for the National Urban League conference.

The Cincinnati area has been a pivotal region for presidential voting in recent primary and general elections.

“There’s no doubt that this area continues to be important,” said county GOP chairman Alex Triantafilou. “It’s going to be just as critical in 2016 as it has been in recent elections.”

Paul also headlined a local GOP pancake breakfast last year. He has said he won’t decide on running in 2016 until after this November’s elections.

House Speaker John Boehner, a West Chester Republican, said recently that he has “nudged” Bush to seek the nomination.

Bush has said he probably won’t decide until the end of the year whether he’s going to try to follow his brother and father into the White House.

Ohio also is home turf for two of the many other politicians considered possible national-ticket candidates for Republicans in 2016: U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who was on the short list to be Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012, and Gov. John Kasich, who would first need to win re-election this fall.

The Cincinnati area Thursday fell out of the running to host the 2016 Republican National Convention, but Triantafilou said it was a positive, bipartisan effort that gave local leaders a chance to promote the city. He said he’d like to see Cleveland, one of four remaining contenders, land the host role.

“I’m rooting for Ohio,” he said Friday.

The Bush invitations, first reported by Cincinnati public radio station WVXU, say tickets start at $1,000 each to attend a reception. The price ranges up to $64,800 for couples to serve as event chairs along with dinner, photo opportunities and a roundtable discussion.


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