Surprising just about everybody, including Ohio's Republican Party Chairman, the Republican National Committee today announced that Cleveland has been selected to host its 2016 national convention.
"A Cleveland convention offers our party a great steppingstone to the White House in 2016," said GOP national chairman Reince Priebus. "The team from Cleveland has gone above and beyond the call of duty and I think they're representative of a city eager to show the country all the fantastic things they have to offer."
Senator Rob Portman acknowledged that the RNC had tipped its hand last week when it dispatched advisers to Cleveland for a second visit to review technical aspects of a potential convention there. They did not do the same for Dallas, the other city in the running.
"This is the right state for this convention," said Portman. "We're in the heartland and the road to the White House is through Ohio."
Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges, who had expressed skepticism about Cleveland earlier in the process, said the choice is a big win for the state.
"We will have the opportunity to share Ohio's comeback story to the nation and demonstrate how powerful balanced budgets, lower taxes, and a focus on job creation can be," said Borges. "At the same time Republicans nationally will be focused on Ohio, the nation's most critical swing state."
Democrats were quick to both praise and condemn the pick.
"It is great that Republicans across the country will spend seven days in Cuyahoga County seeing the fruits of the successful leadership of Ed FitzGerald, Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County's next County Executive, Armond Budish," said state Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern. "The region's rebirth is due to their leadership and the hard work of the people of Cuyahoga County."
"If there's one thing Republicans have, its money ---and I'm delighted they'll be spending a boatload of it in Cleveland," said Dale Butland from the progressive Innovation Ohio. "Of course, it won't help them win the state in 2016 any more than it did in 1936 ---which was the last time they held their convention in Cleveland."
With the pick of Cleveland for Republicans, Columbus is now one of five cities being considered to host the Democratic National Convention.
The other cities are Birmingham, Brooklyn, Phoenix and Philadelphia.
Columbus officials believe they are in the final three with New York and Philadelphia, with both Birmingham and Phoenix as long shot picks.