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Panel backs Cleveland’s bid

Ohio tops Texas for Republican convention in ’16

– Cleveland won the unanimous backing of a Republican National Committee panel Tuesday, all but guaranteeing that the GOP’s 2016 presidential pick will accept the party’s nomination in perennially hard-fought Ohio.

The Republicans’ site selection committee backed Cleveland over Dallas, and the full 168-member RNC is expected to ratify the choice next month. The move signals the role that Ohio – and its 18 electoral votes – plays in presidential campaigns.

“As goes Ohio, so goes the presidential race,” party Chairman Reince Priebus said.

The RNC did not announce a start date, but Priebus said June 28 or July 18, 2016, are the two options under consideration. An earlier-than-usual convention was a priority for Priebus, and leaders of Dallas’ bid said the calendar was the main factor running against the Texas city.

Paying for the convention was another consideration. Priebus insisted the host city not leave the central party picking up the tab. Although Dallas had the edge on fundraising, Cleveland narrowed the gap and lined up early pledges toward the expected $60 million price tag.

Republican Rep. Bob Latta, who represents northwest Ohio’s 5th District in Congress, said in a statement that the convention “provides a tremendous opportunity to showcase Ohio’s economic turnaround, lower tax rates and great location, as well as being an economic stimulus to the greater Cleveland and Cuyahoga region.”

RNC member Tim Berry, chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, said in an email, “Having the convention here in the heartland of America will certainly help us build the momentum and message necessary to win back the White House.”

Delegates from northeast Indiana will have their shortest trip since Republicans conducted their convention in Detroit in 1980. Cleveland is a 204-mile drive from Fort Wayne.

Indiana’s profile at the convention might hinge on the aspirations of Gov. Mike Pence. He is up for re-election in 2016, which likely would give him a speaking role in Cleveland. His string of out-of-state appearances has fueled speculation he might seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

Brian Francisco of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.

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