Adelson Pushing for RNC to Roll the Dice on Vegas Convention

Saturday, 05 Apr 2014 01:26 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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There are six cities contending for the 2016 Republican National Convention, but five of them don't have what Las Vegas does: mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson, who owns the Las Vegas Sands and its connected resorts and casinos, has emerged as one of the largest Republican donors in the country, including at least $93 million to super PACs in 2012, and he is "adamant that the GOP must go to Vegas," a source told New York Post columnist Richard Johnson.

And some Republicans fear, Johnson reports, that if Adelson doesn't get the GOP convention in Las Vegas, the casino magnate will donate millions of dollars from his $40 billion fortune to Democrats out of spite.

The city is already pushing hard for the convention nod, including posting its attibutes on a website, Las Vegas 2016.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Kansas City also are in contention for the convention. Even with Adelson's millions, one of the other cities may likely have a shot, Johnson's source told him, as evangelical Christians believe Las Vegas' reputation as "Sin City" sends the wrong message for conservatives.

Many of the top potential presidential candidates have already been visiting Adelson in Las Vegas, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin who attended the four-day Republican Jewish Coalition conference in March.

Earlier this week, the Republican National Committee eliminated two cities, Columbus, Ohio and Phoenix as potential host cities, reports The Dallas Morning News. GOP Site Selection Committee Chairwoman Enid Mickelsen said the 2016 selection is proving especially challenging.

"The eyes of the world will be on the RNC and our host city in the summer of 2016, and these six cities have shown they have what it takes to move forward,” said Mickelsen, a former Utah congresswoman. "In any other year, Columbus and Phoenix could have topped the list, but with so many strong cities competing, the committee had to make the difficult decision to narrow the field."

Las Vegas, in addition to Adelson's influence, also has the ability to handle the numbers of people who would come for a convention. The city often attracts conventions that attract 150,000 or more people, and has plenty of hotel space that would be needed for a national political convention.

But Dallas is also a strong contender, with enough hotel rooms to keep delegates close to the convention site. During the Tampa GOP convention in 2012, several delegates found they needed to travel for four hours or more to get from their hotels to the convention hall, and party leaders want to avoid that happening again.

The city chosen will also have to have a host committee that is able to raise the more than $60 million that is needed to hold the event, reports The Dallas Morning News, and both Dallas and Las Vegas have donors with that kind of money — especially Vegas and its Adelson connection.

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