Colorado launches bid for 2016 GOP convention

DENVER – Colorado Republicans launched an effort Friday to return their state to the world stage by bringing their party’s 2016 national convention to Denver.

If they succeed, it would be eight years after the Democrats held their quadrennial gathering in the Mile High City.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is cooperating with the effort. Hickenlooper was mayor of Denver during the 2008 convention, which put Barack Obama on the path to the presidency.

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call avoided nearly all mention of politics at Friday’s announcement of the formation of the city’s 2016 host committee.

“This is not an opportunity for Republicans versus Democrats. It’s really an opportunity to showcase Colorado,” Call said.

Nevertheless, Colorado remains a battleground state that has been unkind to Republican candidates the last decade. Obama calculated that the road to the White House went through Colorado, and two elections proved him right.

Before a crowd of 75,000 at the Denver Broncos’ stadium in August 2008, he became the first black presidential nominee. In both 2008 and 2012, Colorado was the “tipping point” state, meaning that he could have lost the other states where the vote was closer and still won the election with Colorado’s votes.

Former Congressman Bob Beauprez had high praise for the 2008 convention.

“We all know here in Colorado that the 2008 Democrat National Convention set a new standard,” said Beauprez, a Republican. “We think we can build on that, that it’s a real jewel.”

Local leaders say the successful 2008 convention will give Denver a leg up on other competing cities, including Kansas City, Mo.; Las Vegas; San Diego; Dallas; and Charlotte, N.C. – which had the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will join Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, and the state’s other Republican members of Congress as honorary co-chairmen of the host committee.

The group has until Feb. 26 to submit a bid to the Republican National Committee. The winning city will need to raise up to $60 million, Call said. But he estimated the economic benefit to the state to be close to $260 million.

The convention would bring an estimated 50,000 people to Denver.

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