Tampa Will Host 2012 Republican Convention
Around the State
The convention will be held the week of Aug. 27 in the St. Pete Times Forum, which seats more than 21,000 and is the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team.
On Wednesday afternoon, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio gathered with a number of prominent Floridians, including former Gov. Bob Martinez and Al Austin of Austin Companies, who formed a host committee to lure the convention to Tampa, on a conference call to hear Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele announce the selection of Tampa.
“I am very, very proud to call you and congratulate you on being the host city,” said Steele as the room broke into applause.
“We’re excited and ready to get to work,” said Steele. “It is a real pleasure and I look forward to visiting.”
Austin said the committee would raise $40 million and pledged the event would not require any taxpayer dollars.
“We’re going to hit the road running tomorrow with fundraising,” he said. “This will be the greatest convention we’ve had as Republicans.”
Tampa leaders estimate the convention will inject $170 million into the local economy.
“It’s going to create a lot of jobs,” said Austin. “It will be a great boost to our economy.”
Florida Republicans quickly chimed in to praise the selection.
“The Republican National Committee's site-selection decision today naming Tampa as the location to host the 2012 Republican National Convention is great news for our state,” said Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp. “Hosting the convention is a tremendous honor for Tampa and the state of Florida.”
"Tampa will serve as a gorgeous backdrop to showcase Florida, and Republicans and Democrats alike will be the winners as tens of thousands descend on the Bay Area to enjoy our world-class beaches, restaurants and other attractions,” said Congressman Adam Putnam. “The eyes of the world will be focused on our state for this historic convention.”
The 2012 convention will mark the third time that Florida has played host to the Republican National Convention. The GOP met in Miami Beach in 1968 when it nominated Richard Nixon, and the Republicans returned to Miami Beach in 1972 when they nominated Nixon again.
Tampa had attempted to lure the Republican National Convention in 2004 and 2008 but lost out to New York City and St. Paul, Minn. “This has been a long journey,” said Austin. “We were a close second both times.”
The Democratic National Convention was only held in Florida once -- also in Miami Beach in 1972, when Democrats nominated George McGovern to take on Nixon. The Democrats, who will hold their convention the week of Sept. 3, 2012, will make a decision on where they will convene later this year. They are considering holding their convention in Charlotte, N.C., Philadelphia, Phoenix or St. Louis.
The convention could provide a boost for Republican prospects in Florida in 2012, when the state is expected to be a presidential battleground yet again and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is up for reelection. However, the last time a Republican National Convention being held in a battleground state carried the GOP to victory was after the 1980 convention in Detroit, when the Reagan-Bush ticket carried Michigan.
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