With Columbus' bid, Ohio could host two political conventions in 2016

With Columbus' bid, Ohio could host two political conventions in 2016
The Columbus, Ohio, skyline on May 18. (Raymond Boyd / Getty Images)

When a delegation from the Democratic National Committee arrives in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday, former Gov. Ted Strickland will be at a downtown plaza alongside local officials to greet the group.

About a month after Cleveland was selected as the site of the Republican National Committee's 2016 convention, Strickland, a Democrat, is ready to sell Columbus as the best fit to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention and show stark contrasts between the two parties.

"We have the perfect stage, right here in Ohio, to show the nation's voters we're the party most fit to lead the country," Strickland said in a brief interview Tuesday.

The former governor, Mayor Michael B. Coleman, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and state Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern plan to woo the delegation, in town to assess the city's hotel accommodations, transportation and venues.

If the party chooses Columbus, it will be the first time since 1972 that a single state held both the Democratic and Republican national conventions. That year, both were held in Miami Beach, Fla. Columbus, New York, Philadelphia and Phoenix and Birmingham, Ala., are vying to host the convention.

"We are the swingiest of swing states in the country," said Bill DeMora, a consultant to the Ohio Democratic Party who is working on Columbus' bid. "And, by us holding the convention, we can blunt some of the media attention Republicans will receive in Cleveland."

In 2012, President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney visited Columbus more than 75 times, according to the state's Democratic Party. Obama carried the state by about 3 percentage points in 2012. And Ohio's coveted 18 electoral votes and evenly divided electorate make it one of the most competitive states when it comes to presidential contests. Still, despite Ohio's swing state status, little evidence exists that where a party holds its convention has any indication of how the voters in the state will cast ballots.

As part of its pitch to the RNC, Cleveland raised about $25 million. The city plans to raise a total of $70 million to cover expenses and security for the event. DeMora said Columbus would raise cash through public and private partnerships, but declined to say how much the city has raised.

A DNC spokeswoman said a decision on a host city will be made this year or in early 2015.

Strickland said Tuesday that he's not too concerned about the other cities trying to host the convention.

"It's early in the process, but I think we'll be fine," he said.

Twitter: @kurtisalee