Should the RNC go to Vegas?

As the GOP continues planning the big nomination shindig for 2016, (yes… it takes that long to organize) they are considering a number of different host cities. One of the possible options under discussion is Las Vegas. Ed discussed this possibility back in January along with a few of the possible pitfalls and alternatives, but the push is still on and the deadline for a decision is approaching. It’s certainly worth a look, but some prominent social conservatives and religious leaders are warning the GOP against tossing the bid that way.

Some of the heaviest hitters on the religious right are pressuring GOP leaders to cross off Las Vegas as a potential host city for its 2016 convention, warning that putting the next convention in Sin City will harm the party’s image and drive away supporters.

Dallas already pitches itself as a more wholesome alternative to Vegas, and the push-back could bolster the city’s effort.

The leaders sent a letter last week to Republican chairman Reince Priebus, putting him on notice that picking Vegas would generate friction. They call the city a “trap waiting to ensnare. … What could go wrong? The answer is obvious.”

Doug Mataconis seems to think that Sin City is a non-starter.

A political convention in Las Vegas would certainly be an epic event, and there’s no question that the city has the space to handle the crowds that either political party would bring. At same time, though, Las Vegas still has a certain, shall we say, reputation that I am guessing neither Republicans nor Democrats would want to be associated with during an election year. The potential shenanigans, and resulting headlines, pretty much write themselves. Add to that the fact that Las Vegas in the summer can reach temperatures exceeding 100°, and I’m thinking that the RNC will be looking elsewhere for a convention site. My personal guess is that the Republican Convention will end up being held in either Cinncinnati, Cleveland, or Kansas City, all safe Mid-Western cities and all of them far away from any threat of hurricanes.

I believe a lot of the concerns expressed here are a bit overblown, but that doesn’t mean that Vegas is a great choice either. First of all, the worries that the GOP conventioneers are suddenly going to lose control of themselves and wind up in hundreds of hotel rooms, missing teeth and trapped in the bathroom with a tiger and Mike Tyson are humbug. And if the temptation exists to get up to such hijinks, Las Vegas hardly holds the patent on it. When I attended the last RNC in Tampa, the walking exit by the bay was within sight of a huge Hooters sign as soon as you left the security boundary. On the ride over to a nearby neighborhood for a sponsor’s party we passed a number of young ladies hanging around on the street who were… well, let’s just say that if they were meter maids, the Casual Friday dress codes down there are way beyond those in any other precinct. You can get into trouble in any large city if you’re really so inclined.

As to Doug’s concerns about the heat, I’ll risk repeating myself. See: Tampa, 2012. It was brutal. And when the temperatures weren’t in the upper 90’s with a humidity level which had to have been around 380% we were getting hammered with thunderstorms which threatened to spawn tornadoes.

Really, I’m not sure how much benefit the party gets from selecting any particular city, nor is the benefit always obvious for the host town. I suppose there’s a small argument to be made for hosting the shindig in a swing state like Ohio or Florida, but the benefit they realize in jobs and increased business is temporary and limited to a single county for the most part. The party also brings its own share of problems. The people of Tampa were enraged (at least if you listened to talk radio) because the security was so tight that a huge section of downtown was locked off from all non-conference traffic (driving or on foot) for several days behind a wall that was compared to the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Still, if you’re going to get some benefit out of it, you might as well do it where it may win a few votes in a needed area. For that reason, I’m tempted to agree with Doug and say that one of the two cities in Ohio might be the best choice. They can handle the traffic and every vote counts with the Buckeyes. Plus, it will be a much shorter trip for me.

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022