If anyone doesn’t think Republicans in Nevada are serious about
bringing the 2016 Republican National Convention to Las Vegas, check
out the extremely well-done “It’s what we do” video produced to
woo the GOP’s decision-makers at the Republican National Committee
(RNC) at LasVegas2016.com.
And while you might think that bringing the convention to Nevada is a
new idea, it’s actually been around for almost 20 years now.
In 1995, the Nevada Republican Party landed the Western States
Republican Leadership Conference, which was held in the fall at the
relatively new MGM Grand on the Strip. The GOP’s National
Committeeman at the time, Tom “Big Dog” Wiesner, was largely
responsible for bringing the WSRLC to Vegas.
Wiesner, political consultant Benay Stout and a few others created
the “Keystone Corporation” that year for two purposes: (1) To
solicit corporate sponsors to underwrite the WSRLC, and (2) build on
the event to hopefully bring the Republican National Convention to
Las Vegas sometime in the future.
The Keystone group was extremely effective at #1, and the event was a
smashing success – even though presidential candidate Bob Dole threw
a fit over including a straw poll in the program and threatened not
to come if such a poll was conducted.
But over subsequent years, interest in bringing the national
convention to Nevada waned among members, and Keystone morphed into
more of a pro-business PAC helping to elect fiscally conservative
Meanwhile, Nevada GOP Chairman John Mason, who headed the party
during the ’95 WSRLC, was appointed to the RNC’s prestigious Site
Selection Committee for the 2000 national convention. But the GOP
– at the time strongly influenced by social conservatives – still
wasn’t quite ready for “Sin City,” and awarded the convention
that year to Philadelphia.
Mason moved on as chairman not long after, and interest in bringing
the national convention to Vegas pretty much died out with his
But last April, at the Republican National Committee meeting in
Beverly Hills, California, current Nevada GOP Chairman Michael
McDonald made a new presentation proposing Las Vegas as the host city
for the 2016 national convention. The idea sat idle for most of the
summer, but caught fire among other Nevada GOP folks in the fall.
And before you knew it a non-profit organization, “Las Vegas
2016,” sprung up (because of modern-day campaign finance laws, you
can’t run such an event through the state party organization any
longer; thanks for nothing, John McCain!) and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki
was placed in charge of the project. Gov. Brian Sandoval and all of
Nevada’s GOP congressional members are also now onboard.
If the RNC does bring the 2016 (or 2020) national convention to
Vegas, we can all thank Chairman McDonald for reviving an old idea
whose time may have finally come.