Denver hosts, toasts RNC site selection committee

Most events veiled in secrecy, but no secret that fundraising is key

The activities of the visiting members of the Republican site selection committee were ensconced in secrecy for much of their two-day visit to Denver, to the chagrin of local and national press who had experienced more access during the RNC’s first two trips to host contenders Cleveland and Kansas City a few days earlier.

Don Childears, president of the Colorado Bankers Association, state Rep. Amy Stephens,
R-Monument, and attorney Steve Farber with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

As Colorado and national Republican officials emphasized numerous times, the visiting delegation was in town for a business meeting, and any extraneous distractions, including pesky questions from the media, would not be tolerated. A copy of the official agenda of the delegates was marked confidential, and members and guests were asked to not talk with the press. As Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado GOP stated for the record, this was going to be a serious two days filled with presentations on fundraising, hotels, infrastructure, transportation and other technical considerations which needed to be impressed upon the nine voting members of the site selection committee.

Site selection committee chairwoman Enid Mikelsen of the RNC and veteran Colorado fundraiser Charlie Gallagher of Denver.

But there was time for some socializing — away from the cameras — at which RNC members got to meet with community leaders in an informal setting. Don and Linda Childears — he the president of the Colorado Bankers Association and she the president of the Daniels Fund — opened their expansive City Park penthouse and enveloping outdoor patio to a reception for about 100 on Monday night. And on the following evening, after visits to local hotels and other venues and a working lunch at Coors Field, site selection committee members and guests were entertained at a hush-hush location for cocktails and appetizers and the opportunity to again mix and mingle with major donors and elected officials. This event was hosted by Charlie Gallagher and the Brown Palace Hotel, although the famed grand hotel was not the venue.

Lilly Nuñez, Republican National Committeewoman for Colorado, and North Dakota National Committeewoman Sandy Boehler, who sits on the site selection committee.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock welcomed guests before apologizing for having to leave early to watch his wife, Mary Louise Lee, compete on “America’s Got Talent.” The television show had already aired back east, and Hancock said he wouldn’t see the light of day if he missed watching his wife sing to a national audience.
But before he left, Hancock said that attracting the RNC to Denver in 2016 was a metro regional effort, and as proof he introduced Lonetree Mayor Jim Gunning, who also serves as chairman of the Metro Mayors Caucus, and Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, his chief of staff Janice Sinden, and Tony Gagliardi, head of the NFIB in Colorado.

With RNC host committee chairman Pete Coors at his side, Hancock raised a glass in a salute to the RNC.
“My job is simply to say to you all: we don’t like to lose in Denver and we recognize you have three other great cities competing for this opportunity,” Hancock began. “We believe we’re not only the best city, but the right city,” he added.

But the realistic mayor recognized the huge pressure Denver is under to make hosting the convention financially viable.

“Our backs are against the wall,” he told Denver hosts and guests at the reception. “We’re going to need every muscle in and out of this room.

“I’m here to summon that spirit and tell you we need your help. The RNC needs us to demonstrate that we can raise the funds” to bring the convention here, similar to what Denver did when it successfully lured the DNC to town in 2008.

“Denver is the best city on earth to host the convention,” Hancock said with his glass held high.

Marilyn Ware, former U.S. Ambassador to Finland from 2006 to 2008, talks with a guest at a reception Tuesday night in Denver.
District Attorney Ken Buck and state Rep. Perry Buck are among the attendees at the Tuesday night affair.
Photos by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman


See the June 13, 2014 print edition for full photo coverage.

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