And Ohioans thought the presidential race couldn’t become more deeply embedded in the state. In two years, the Republican Party will bring its national convention to Cleveland and the rest of Northeast Ohio.
The choice is smart, and not necessarily because the party dares to enter a Democratic stronghold. There are many Republican voters in suburban Cleveland and Akron. Here is an opportunity for the party to edge toward the center and broaden its appeal. Both Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman suggested as much in responding to the announcement last week — albeit each in his own way.
Applaud Cleveland leaders, from the public and private sectors, for their preparation and pitch. Worth echoing is a point that Brent Larkin of the Cleveland Plain Dealer made: Republicans can thank Ed FitzGerald, Democrat, Cuyahoga County executive and the candidate for governor the GOP likes to jab. FitzGerald proved the spark in pushing Cleveland as a convention city.
Too much can be made about a convention location translating into more local votes or hefty economic benefits, not that there won’t be some of the latter. Even Akron will enjoy spillover. In Tampa, four years ago, some Republican convention attendees lodged an hour’s transport away. Heck, they can head north on I-77 and get to Cleveland in half that time.
The real dividend will come if city and region successfully turn the moment into one for addressing some misconceptions about the area — and the entire state. What if Democrats choose Columbus from their final list of possible convention sites, not wanting to give an inch in this big battleground. Why almost the entire presidential campaign could be conducted here!