As nearly everyone in Ohio knows by now, Cleveland has been selected by the Republicans as the site of their 2016 presidential nominating convention. As Ohio Public Radio’s Karen Kasler reports, some believe the choice of Cleveland has dramatically changed Columbus’ changes to host the Democratic convention.
The Democratic National Committee was considering Cleveland, Birmingham, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Columbus. Cleveland is now out because the Democrats have a rule that says they won’t pick the same city as the Republicans do.
But because the GOP has selected a site in Ohio, could that affect Columbus’ chances of landing the DNC convention?
“I don’t think it affects Columbus one way or the other," Leland said.
David Leland is the former chair of the Ohio Democratic Party and was a candidate to chair the Democratic National Committee. He’s currently running for state representative in Columbus, so he’s definitely a cheerleader for the city.
Leland said the contest is more about Columbus’ passion and ability to host the event, not about which party is in power in Ohio. He says that’s the way it was when he was on the committee that picked Boston for the 2004 DNC convention.
“The electoral politics that were going on prior to the convention or even before or even during the convention played a very, very small part in the considerations of the committee as to which city should be selected," he said. "I mean, they’re going to be looking at things like infrastructure, hotels, financial commitment, energy in the city – I mean, they’re going to be looking at all those things.”
Another Ohio veteran of national Democratic politics has a slightly different view of the chances for Columbus, which has never hosted a major party political convention before.
David Wilhelm is the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, and managed Bill Clinton’s successful campaign for president in 1992. And like Leland, he lives in Columbus.
“I think Columbus may have just gone from a 'nice to have' or a 'want to have' to a 'gotta have,'" Wilhelm said.
And Wilhelm agrees with Leland that the city’s drive to host the convention will be a major factor – but he adds that the Republicans’ pick of Cleveland will play a big part as well.
“I just don’t think you want...to let the Republican nominee traverse the Cleveland media market and the state of Ohio for a couple of weeks," Wilhelm said. "You’re going to want to match that, you’re going to want to compete with that.”
Ohio isn’t the only swing state in the contest -- Pennsylvania is also a battleground state, and has 20 electoral votes to Ohio’s 18.
There’s no correlation between convention location and election results, though the Democrats do have a better record of holding their conventions in states they go on to win. But in 2012, both parties held their conventions in states they lost. By the way, the last time Republicans and Democrats held their conventions in the same state was when they both met in Miami Beach in 1972.