Columbus Does Not Make Latest Cut For GOP Convention

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UPDATED: Wednesday April 2, 2014 5:20 PM

His body language said it all.  During a noon press conference with Gov. John Kasich, Columbus mayor Michael Coleman stepped into the hallway to take an urgent call.  When he hung up the phone, it was clear the call had come from a member of the Republican National Committee and based on his expression, the news for Columbus to host their next national convention was not good.

In fact, of eight cities that made a bid for the GOP convention, only Columbus and Phoenix failed to make the first cut.

But Coleman says what the city learned from the GOP will be better addressed when the city makes its bid for the Democratic National Convention later this summer.

"We're going to continue to focus on the fact that the organization that has its convention in Columbus is going to have a greater opportunity to impact votes statewide," said Coleman.  "You come to Columbus, and you're going to be here anyway with the presidential candidates, it will help swing the entire state of Ohio."

Coleman acknowledges that the Columbus bid had weak spots with Republican National Committee officials and the city is taking them seriously.

“We need to look at potential light rail between the airport and downtown,” said Coleman.  “Folks who come to the city getting right downtown, or to Easton, or to The Ohio State University need good transportation.  We also need to look at expanding direct flights.”

One source close to the RNC selection committee said Columbus fell short when discussing transportation needs.

Many Republican delegates complained about lack of transportation in Tampa after the 2012 convention and it was considered RNC chairman Reince Priebus’ top priority.

Two other Ohio cities, Cincinnati and Cleveland, will continue to compete with Dallas, Denver, Kansas City and Las Vegas for the GOP convention.

Brian Ross from Experience Columbus estimated a convention in central Ohio could generate $150 million in revenue.

"Columbus is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, the largest city in Ohio and a very vibrant and diverse city," said Ross.  "Typically you have the northern part of the state go Democratic, the southern part of the state go Republican and how Columbus goes, typically, is how Ohio goes."

Democrats will begin their convention process this summer.

A final decision on the GOP convention city is not expected until early fall.

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