DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Dallas pulled out all the stops to woo Republicans and win their 2016 political convention. But on Tuesday, all of the dazzle fizzled into reality: Big D lost the convention to Cleveland.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said, “I’m disappointed obviously, because we wanted this to come to Dallas.”
Rawlings and former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison are among those who led the city’s effort. They say timing helped Cleveland.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has said he wants an early convention. Hutchison explained, “Reince really wants June.”
Dallas’ hotel rooms are already booked in June, 2016 though and not available until July.
“We are so successful as a city right now. July was open, but June wasn’t,” Rawlings said. But Cleveland’s hotels are available in June.
Two years ago, Republicans held their convention in late August.
Political analyst John Weekley says an earlier start would help. “This would allow Republicans to start the campaign in June, raise money in June, and be well-organized.”
During their visit last month, Republicans insisted this is a business decision, one not based on politics. But the Mayor said, “You can’t separate politics from a political convention.”
While Texas is the home of two former Presidents and solidly Republican, Ohio is one of the largest states up for grabs that Republicans will need to win during the Presidential election.
Mrs. Hutchison said lack of defined Republican support may have played a role. “I think Cleveland had a lot of appeal being a swing state.” Weekley agreed saying, “I think this helps to put the focus on the Republicans, and if the convention goes well, I think that’s advantageous to them.”
Mayor Rawlings, a Democrat, questions whether national politics worked against Dallas. “I believe Dallas’ image and what we are about in Dallas was very appropriate for the convention. But at the same time, there are national politics taking place, and people are trying to influence things on every issue that we’ve got. Texas is at the forefront of these things, and as I said, we’ve got to be cognizant, does that add to the brand or does it detract value, and I think as citizens of Texas, we need to have that front and center as we lead the state.”
Dallas once had a big fundraising advantage with Republicans pledging nearly $50 million, compared with $25 million pledged for Cleveland. But city leaders say Republicans told them Tuesday that Cleveland has now nearly matched the money pledged to Dallas.
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