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GOP begins process of picking a 2016 convention city

Hotels, transportation and finances – not political considerations – will matter most to Republican officials choosing a 2016 national convention site, party leaders said Monday after hearing bids from cities across the country.

Eight cities are vying to host the convention, which will likely be held between late June and mid-July of 2016. Kansas City, Mo.; Phoenix; Columbus, Ohio; Cleveland; and Denver were on the agenda of a special party committee Monday. Las Vegas, Dallas and Cincinnati are expected to make their case later this month. A final decision is expected in late summer.

Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus made his priority clear: “Securing the finances.”

The second consideration is logistics. Many Republicans grumbled about Tampa, Fla., site of the 2012 convention. Hotels were often half-hour rides away, and Hurricane Isaac forced cancellation of the first day’s events.

“Delegate experience,” Priebus said, has become a more significant issue for the party this time.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James said after the city made its presentation that officials were focused on the nuts and bolts of fundraising, hotels, transportation and security — not the political leanings of a host city or whether it is in a swing state.

“When you look at major urban cities that have the ability to host something like this, most have Democratic mayors and Democratic leanings,” said James, a Democrat.

The convention could bring international attention and $200 million to $300 million in direct economic benefits, James said.

“There is nothing bigger for a city than this, other than the Olympics,” James said. “You cannot buy the type of prestige and media coverage that a convention brings to a city.”

Politics is hardly a factor, though with three cities from the traditional swing state of Ohio, the question kept coming up. Priebus was asked at a news conference about Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who vetoed legislation last week that would have permitted businesses to refuse service to gays for religious reasons.

Social conservatives are an influential Republican constituency, but Priebus said the controversy will have no impact on the convention decision.