Denver, Featured, National, Peter Blake, Politics

The Awkward Failure of Losing the 2016 Convention

The Republicans don’t want to nominate their presidential candidate in Denver in 2016?  No problem.  The city’s tourism office had earlier lined up the Global Business Travel Association’s convention for the period the GOP wanted in mid-July.

“Downtown will be sold out,” said Rich Grant, spokesman for Visit Denver, the city’s convention and visitors bureau.

The bureau can’t afford to sit around waiting on an extortionist political party which plays one city off another while making up its mind.   It needs to keep hotels and restaurants filled.

If the Republicans had chosen Denver, the global travelers probably would have had to give way.  There will be only 6,000 of them compared to the 50,000 delegates and hangers-on expected for the party convention.  They would have packed more than downtown. Of course, there’s talk that that the GOP will advance the date of its convention, displacing some other group’s meeting instead, in order to get an earlier start on the general election campaign.

But that will be Cleveland’s or Dallas’ problem.

Denver and Kansas City, the other two finalists, washed out because they hadn’t raised enough cash.  Pete Coors and his team were said to have only $11 million in pledges, and according to Politico, Kansas City was also said to be lagging.

icon_op_edUnlike Denver, Dallas and Cleveland are tapping public as well as private money .  There’s a delicious irony in that.  The Republicans are going to launch their 2016 candidate, and his inevitable pledge to reduce the size of government and promote free enterprise, by going to the city that can promise them the most tax money.

I am rooting for Dallas.  No cool breezes off Lake Erie there.  The Republicans deserve to visit Texas in July.

It might be a touch embarrassing for the Republicans to be reminded that those big-spending Democrats brought their convention here in 2008 without the promise of local public money.  Then Mayor John Hickenlooper wouldn’t have it.  To be sure, the federal government did kick in $50 million for security — police overtime and such.  There was also $18 million from the tax checkoff box on your Form 1040, but that’s going away in 2016.

You remember that peculiar $3 Presidential Election Campaign checkoff which the IRS tells you with a straight face neither increases your tax nor reduces your refund.

Federal taxpayers, and even Congress, are getting increasingly leery of subsidizing what is essentially a private party with little or no drama.

What exactly is the local money spent on?  Mike Dino, who headed up Denver’s $55 million fund-raising for the Democratic convention in 2008, said most of the money goes for the production costs of the convention — renting the arena or stadium where sessions will be held, and modifying them for television.

You mean that famous arcade of non-marble Doric columns that were erected at Mile High Stadium for Barack Obama’s acceptance speech?

“One of the least expensive items,” insisted Dino, who is with the huge law and lobbying firm of Squire Patton Boggs.  He meant the building of the soundstage and the transportation costs related to it — “everything that goes into creating what you see on TV.”

The money is also used for helping to arrange delegate hotel rooms and credentialing expenses.  It is not supposed to go for the party’s political campaigns.

Dino and his team raised so much money that it had $5.5 million left over, which it donated to the host city.  The city can use the money as it sees fit, and some of it went to Denver’s B-cycle ride-sharing program.

Dino suggested that national political conventions, like the Olympic Games and the World Cup, may have to keep going back to the same host cities because they end up costing new cities much more money that they expect, or that they can raise.

Using the same cities over and over was common in the 19 Century and early 20th.  For instance, Democrats went to Baltimore six times in a row, between 1832 and 1852.

Chicago was a popular favorite for both parties, hosting 23 conventions between 1860 and 1960.   In 1884, 1932, 1944 and 1952 both parties met in Chicago.

Dallas is the new Chicago and it seems to have complaisant taxpayers.  Maybe it should volunteer to host both parties’ conventions every four years.

Longtime Rocky Mountain News political columnist Peter Blake now writes every other Thursday for Contact him at You may re-publish his work at no charge and without further permission; please give full credit to Peter Blake and


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