Denver to try to lure RNC to town

The Colardo Statesman

The Democrats did it in 2008.

Now a bipartisan effort is underway to lure the Republicans to Denver in 2016 for their 41st national nominating convention.

The idea was hatched in late 2013 by Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call in anticipation of the formal bidding which will occur later this year. The Republican National Committee — and likewise its Democratic counterpart — typically starts planning for its once every four years conclave more than two-and-a-half years in advance.

On Jan. 17, about 70 business, civic and political leaders — including Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Janice Sinden, chief of staff for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock — convened at the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver to hear Call and others extol the virtues of staging the 2016 Republican National Convention in Denver. Drawing on research accumulated from the city’s highly successful 2008 DNC, there is already a substantial amount of information available showing the benefits of bringing such a large and prestigious convention to town.

For example, it is estimated that 50,000 visitors typically assemble in the convention city, including 3,000 delegates and 3,000 alternates, 15,000-19,000 global and domestic media, and 25,000 dignitaries, families, guests and volunteers.

The total direct and indirect economic impact for Denver’s DNC was $266,100,000, according to the Denver 2008 Impact Study published by George Washington University. “The legacy of this [DNC] Convention will be Denver’s establishment as one of the top 10 convention destinations in the nation, and the success of the Convention will permanently reinforce and expand that reputation... economic benefits will continue to grow thanks to the positive impression that Denver made on visitors, including government officials, business leaders and the media,” the study concluded.

Former Congressman Bob Beauprez, who has been designated as Denver 2016 Chairman, said after the private luncheon on Friday that both the Governor and the Mayor are “100 percent” behind the effort. With Hickenlooper on board, Beauprez added, “we get a major cheerleader plus the resources and assets of the state [that] are extremely important.”

“There’s no better place for Republicans to showcase job growth, innovation and healthy living than Colorado,” Hickenlooper said in a statement from the Republican state party following the luncheon. “From past experience hosting the Democratic National Convention, we already know Denver can benefit significantly from this type of national exposure. We will work side by side with the state Republican Party to try to bring its national convention to Colorado.”

“...Our city shines when staging world-class events,” echoed Hancock in the same release by the Colorado GOP. “We’re excited at the prospect of hosting another major political convention and once again showcasing our great city to the world. This would be a huge economic boost for Denver, and we’ll be at the table representing the city’s best interests,” Hancock was quoted as saying.

Party chief Call said the luncheon was the launching point for setting up the all important host committee, which will be comprised of at least 10-15 highly influential Denver citizens who must pledge to raise significant funds for the effort.

Although fundraising is just in the beginning stages, Call said, he is very confidant that Denver is up for the task. The invitation to the luncheon suggested that those wishing to serve as a host committee sponsor ante up $25,000; those looking to become host committee ambassadors were requested to make a $10,000 contribution.

The primary roles and responsibilities of the host committee are key to convincing the national party that Denver is ready for such a major undertaking. Besides creating and implementing a plan to promote Denver and its environs, the host committee is charged with supporting the RNC and its Committee on Arrangements in raising approximately $50+ million — locally and nationally — in private funds.

The sum includes in-kind and cash donations, but the majority of the funding must be committed within a specified timeline. For instance, formal bids from vying host cities must be submitted to the national party by Feb. 26, along with $10 million in contributions available at the same time.

Beauprez appeared ebullient about the prospect of Denver hosting the RNC in 2016.

“One only needs to walk down the 16th Street Mall today to see how proud Coloradans are of their state,” Beauprez pointed out on Friday. “Everywhere you look, people are united in orange and blue in support of the Broncos. We’re always looking for ways to show the world what a great city Denver is, and what a beautiful state we have.”

Jim Nicholson, former chairman of the RNC and former Secretary of Veteran Affairs, is co-chair of the newly established Denver host committee. He told members of the media that in his former positions as vice chair and chair of the RNC from 1997 to 2000, he witnessed the site selection process firsthand when Philadelphia made its bid for the 2000 national convention. Now, as senior counsel at the Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck law firm — which will represent Denver’s host committee — he’ll be able to use that expertise from a different vantage point.

Nicholson recounted how Philadelphia Mayor (and later Governor) Ed Rendell, a Democrat, credited the Republican national convention for helping erase his city’s image as simply a footnote between Washington, D.C. and New York.

Beauprez is enthusiastic about the work ahead since it combines his love of Republican party politics with the prospect of creating economic development for his native state of Colorado.

“I’m excited, thoroughly jazzed about this whole thing,” Beauprez said.

Call said the winter meeting of the RNC is slated for next week. He expects a site selection committee to be appointed and that should officially jumpstart the long process of choosing a host city. The RNC, Call confirmed, is looking at the possibility of moving up the national convention to an earlier date in July instead of late August or early September.

Initially solicitations were sent to approximately two dozen cities. Those which reportedly have expressed interest in hosting the 2016 event include Charlotte, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Kansas City, and three venues in Ohio: Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinatti.

Denver, however, has several advantages, according to Call, Beauprez and Nicholson. For instance, Denver already has much of the infrastructure in place from the 2008 convention, with such amenities as world class event space, sufficient hotel rooms to accommodate the guests, security provisions, transportation infrastructure, as well as recreational opportunities.

“Colorado has a unique position as a bellwether state to highlight issues and insert ourselves as part of the conversation” in an important election year, added Nicholson.

“One of the real tests — we might as well be blunt — the city must come forward with resources,” Nicholson said. “Denver has done it already.”

Other members of the host committee to date include U.S. Reps. Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton, AG John Suthers, former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown, former Gov. Bill Owens, Phil Anschutz, Larry Mizel, Pete Coors, Charlie Gallagher, Richard King Brown and Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT Denver.

Jody@coloradostatesman.com