And then there were two.
Dallas and Cleveland have been named the two remaining finalists to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Denver and Kansas City are out of the running.
A winner should be chosen in early August.
Enid Mickelsen, chair of the RNC's site selection committee, said in a statement: “Cleveland and Dallas demonstrated their ability to host a phenomenal convention in 2016, and the RNC is excited about the prospect of hosting our convention in either of these great cities. After visiting both cities, I can say to my fellow Republicans that we should be excited for the 2016 convention. These world class cities know how to roll out the welcome mat, and more importantly they have the ability to provide our next presidential nominee a launching pad that will put a Republican in the White House in 2016."
Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, says Dallas got a late start, launching its bid to host the convention only four months ago. But he says Big D has a big advantage – money.
Dallas says it already has more than $45 million of the $60 million lined up to host the convention -- more than the other competitors. Cleveland has commitments for about $25 million.
“We’ve gone from probably last place to now in the top two. And our goal is to get it over the goal line,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “But they’re a strong competitor. … They’re going to do everything they can to try and win this for Cleveland. … Hopefully we’ll be selected based on the strength of our bid.”
A memorable Dallas visit
Convention organizers recently visited all four cities. Earlier this month, GOP officials were in Dallas. KERA’s Shelley Kofler reported:
At the American Airlines Center, members of the site selection walked the red carpet as they entered. They were met by cheerleaders for the Dallas Mavericks and Stars and by two elephants, representing the Republican Party’s mascot.
“I didn’t wake up this morning thinking I was going to pet a few elephants on my way into the arena. But that was a nice touch,” National Republican Party Chair Reince Priebus said. “Only in Dallas.”
A business decision
Mickelsen and National Republican Party Chair Reince Priebus have made it clear that deciding among Dallas, Cleveland, Kansas City and Denver will be a business decision.
At a Dallas press conference earlier this month, both suggested all the contenders have adequate hotels, transportation, arenas and hometown spirit.
So what’s left? It might be the $60 million the host city must raise.
“Each city has come up with a different way they think they can get to that that money we think it’s going to take to put on the convention,” Mickelsen said.
“So one of the things we have to weigh out is: How realistic are those plans and what confidence do we have in the various ways they have approached that?”
Dallas says it would have access to $25 million the state makes available for big events. It’s already raised $20 million privately. That means it would need to come up with another $15 million.
That’s where Dallas businessman Ray Washburne might come in. Washburne just happens to be the National Republican Party’s finance chairman. So he knows how to raise money.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has announced Washburne would lead the host committee if Dallas is selected.
“The $60 million to raise is not going to be an easy figure for anyone. But this is the strongest donor base we have in the whole country is based in Dallas,” Washburne said.
Ray Hunt and Harlan Crow are among the big Republican donors showing their support by hosting events during the visit by the RNC committee.
Dallas will find out in August if its collection of contributors and its flair for the fantastic help seal the deal. That’s when Republican convention officials plan to announce its choice.
Cleveland's pitch included dinner receptions in Playhouse Square and at the Cleveland Museum of Art. At the latter, star draft pick Johnny Manziel and other rookies from the Cleveland Browns schmoozed the Republicans.
"The feedback that we're getting is that the site selection committee of the RNC has been blown away by Cleveland," Cuyahoga County GOP Chairman Rob Frost told reporters after a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame breakfast with the site-selection team "And for all that was set up for them -- for the arranged events downtown and at The Q and out at University Circle and here at the Rock Hall -- it was the unplanned encounters that really sealed the deal with them, of their love for Cleveland."
Original post: Dallas, Denver, Cleveland and Kansas City are the four remaining finalists to host the convention. KUSA-TV in Denver is reporting that either Dallas will be named the host city or that Dallas and Denver will be named the remaining finalists. But national RNC officials are disputing the report.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that a Republican National Committee spokesman denies the KUSA report. But the Plain Dealer says: "Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges seemed resigned to a loss earlier Wednesday, when he said that the report from Denver matched up with 'scuttlebutt' he has heard in recent days. But Terry Egger, chairman of the Cleveland Host Committee, remained optimistic, saying the RNC had yet to tip its hand."