Group Lobbies Almost Daily for 2016 GOP Convention in Vegas

Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 09:36 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Republicans at their winter meeting in Washington this week will hear a pitch from Las Vegas civic leaders and top GOP contributors to hold the party's 2016 convention in the gambling mecca.

The group includes Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner who spent at least $98 million on Republican candidates in 2012, The New York Times reports.

"Vegas has pitched us earlier and more aggressively than any city since I've been on the committee," said Henry Barbour, a member of the Republican National Committee since 2005, told the Times.

Barbour, nephew of former RNC Chairman Haley Barbour, said that the "LV2016" group has deluged him daily with telephone calls, emails, and face-to-face visits.

In its effort, the group is working hard to play down Vegas' longstanding image as Sin City, the Times reports.

The push includes a video that emphasizes such attractions as golf courses, restaurants, luxury-suite hotels, a NASCAR track, 531 houses of worship, and nearby natural wonders — including Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.

"There's sin everywhere — we all know that," Mayor Carolyn Goodman told the Times.

A former Republican, she has also been a Democrat and is now an independent.

"The thing is, we are in close proximity to top five-star dining, top shopping. And the most important thing: the weather," Goodman said.

"That is one thing Las Vegas can guarantee: There will be no hurricanes," Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki told the Times, as the Republican referenced when the GOP canceled its first day of the 2012 convention in Tampa, Fla., because of Hurricane Isaac.

But perhaps the biggest challenge to successfully persuading the GOP to meet in Vegas is the city's longstanding gambling image, the Times reports.

"It's Vegas. It's known for anything but wholesome," Tamara Scott, a Christian conservative who heads the Republican Party of Iowa, told the newspaper. "I have reservations as soon as I hear the word Vegas."

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