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September 20, 2014

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Politics:

Did Las Vegas’ pitch sway GOP delegates in D.C.? Here’s what several say

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Steve Marcus

Fireworks fired from casino rooftops explode over the Las Vegas Strip just after midnight Jan. 1, 2014. An estimated 335,000 tourists were expected to visit Las Vegas for the New Year’s festivities. Photo taken from the Mix nightclub at Mandalay Bay.

Delegates attending the Republican National Committee's winter meeting last week were met with sales pitches from cities, including Las Vegas, that are vying to host the party's national convention in 2016.

Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, chairman of the Las Vegas 2016 committee, led a high-powered team of Republicans who made the trip to D.C. The committee had set up two sleek Wi-Fi hotspots, complete with coffee bars and several couches, in the hotel lobbies outside the RNC meeting rooms. Guests were shown videos highlighting Las Vegas’ convention-ready qualities, and they were offered gift bags with T-shirts, hats, fleece vests and mock 2016 delegation badges.

The Sun caught up with several delegates to ask what they thought of Las Vegas' pitch and how they thought Las Vegas might stack up to previous convention host cities.

    • Toni Anne Dashiell, Texas

      Preference: None, officially

      Favorite past convention site: New York; least favorite: Tampa.

      "I do like Las Vegas very much. It’s consolidated — everything is in walking distance, they have ample room, there’s just many positives. Of course you have a little bit of that negative, which is the image, but I think we could get through that."

      "One disadvantage in Las Vegas of course is the heat. So that’s where Denver comes in, where it’s cool. ... But it’s still a good city, and I think we’ve got great choices. It’s going to be very tough to decide."

    • Bruce Hough, Florida

      Preference: None yet

      Advice after Tampa: "It's important that you have a lot of hotel rooms as close to the site of the convention as possible. Our hotel was an hour away — and that was in our own home state!"

    • Pat Longo, Connecticut

      John Frey, Connecticut, also 2012 site selection committee member

      Preference: Las Vegas (Longo)

      Longo: "We both support Las Vegas, because you have so many hotel rooms. The last couple of conventions, we were 15 miles away from the arena."

      Frey: "You look for an arena — that was what we looked for last time. The last convention that was held in a convention center was in San Diego, and it has some drawbacks."

      "You look for rooms in close proximity ... the overall delegate experience ... the ability of the host committee to raise the funds necessary ... and an easy city to travel to."

    • Jeanne Luckey, Mississippi, and site selection committee member

      Preference: None

      "I’ve just seen the things (Las Vegas) presented, I thought it was very nice. Very nice people."

      Her priority: "Selecting a place that will allow us to display our message, and nominate our nominee, and make sure that it’s somebody who can get elected."

    • Tamara Scott, Iowa

      Greg Schaeffer, Wyoming

      Preference: Somewhere in the West (Schaeffer)

      Favorite convention site: Tampa (Scott), San Diego (Schaeffer)

      Least favorite convention site: Minneapolis-St. Paul (Schaeffer)

      Scott: "We're there to do the business of the party, so you need to be accessible and make it an open, user-friendly venue. So that's probably what I should tell you. But there's always a little fun afterwards as well. Tampa was absolutely beautiful. Logistics were a problem, right? But how can you top a sunset on the beach?"

      Schaeffer: "The West offers a good time period for the entire nation to watch the Republican National Convention; I would love to see any one of those (Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas) get it."

      "We want to be in close, have affordable housing, good transportation and good security. We don't want to spend the whole time on a bus."

    • Jay Shephard, Vermont

      Preference: Las Vegas or Kansas City

      Favorite past convention site: New York

      Least favorite convention site: Tampa

      Most important attribute of a convention: "The transportation, making sure everyone’s there and everyone has an opportunity to participate."

      "There’s some negatives in Las Vegas, with the image of gambling, but Denver just legalized pot, which I’m not in support of. ... One of the negatives I see (with Las Vegas) is the convention would run from 5 o’clock to 8:30. And for us old people, I don’t see how we’d handle meals. We either have to eat before 5, or after 9."

    • Shawn Steel, California, a site selection committee alternate

      "As a member of the site selection committee, I certainly can’t make any pre-determination until due diligence is done. I’m dying to go to Columbus (deadpan). And after all that work is done, I think Las Vegas is in very good stead."

      "Las Vegas is friendly, we know it well, it’s family friendly, it’s a swing-state, it’s convenient to get to. ... The rates are good, the time sequence is good, in a Western time zone. ... You go there because it’s a convention city, so we’re very comfortable with it. But as you know, I’m not committed. ... It’s kind of fun getting lobbied by the cities, and you have to see them all."

    • Kris Warner, West Virginia

      Preference: Denver

      "The concern I have with the Las Vegas bid, quite frankly, is the ad campaign ‘What happens (here), stays (here).’ ... What are people going to think back home?"

      "Make no mistake about it, we are a family-oriented party. ... There are those of us who are Christian conservatives ... that's who we are, that's our base and it's important to stay true to your base."

    • Dave Weston, Oklahoma

      Preference: None

      "I know that they’re aware of the problems that we’ve had in the past. ... I didn’t go to Tampa, but based on what I’ve heard, undoubtedly it would have been my least favorite. To me, there’s four or five (bidding cities) that are right there, and maybe one or two that have not distinguished themselves as much."

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