The site selection committee left town Friday, and Dallas feels good about its odds for being chosen to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.
After showing committee members that Dallas can take care of the nuts and bolts -- adequate hotels, transportation, and security -- the bid committee spent two days wooing them with glitz: fancy gift baskets, cheerleaders, balloon and confetti drops at the American Airlines Center and a chance to pet two live elephants, the Republican Party’s mascot.
“I think we showed them what we can do,” said Phillip Jones, president of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Jones told reporters at a press conference it was important for committee members to see Dallas as more than just a place to do business.
“The city is a fun experience for the delegates and I think that’s what they’re looking for. So I think we’re very competitive in that perspective. And the positive response we’ve received from the site selection committee has been gratifying,” Jones said.
In addition to showing committee members a good time, Dallas also showed them the money: how it would raise the $60 million needed to host the convention.
Ray Washburne, the finance chair for the Republican National Committee, lives in Dallas and would lead the host committee if Big D is selected.
“If we get this convention, it was Ray Washburne who was the spark plug,” said retired Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, co-chair of Dallas’ bid committee.
She says the Republican Party knows it can count on Washburne.
“Ray has been an amazing fundraiser for the Republican National Committee and has established contacts outside Texas," Hutchison said. "He has a credibility and a success record. I think it is something that will weigh in our favor."
Dallas says it already has $45 million of the $60 million lined up -- more than the other competitors.
The Denver Post reports its city has just $11 million in private pledges. Cleveland has commitments for about $25 million and Kansas City has as much as $35 million.
The RNC wants to make sure there are no panicky moments like the ones they had in Tampa in 2012 when organizers had to scramble at the last minute to pay the bills.
Jones says the committee will select a preferred site June 30 and negotiate a contract. The RNC will publicly announce its choice in August.