First, you gotta check out this extremely well-done 3-minute “It’s what we do” promotional video that has been produced as part of the effort to bring the 2016 Republican National Convention to Las Vegas.
Liberal blogger Jon Ralston, along with various and sundry GOP establishment types, just can’t bring themselves to give Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald credit where credit is due as it relates to this effort. But since I was there almost 20 years ago when this all began, let me give you the facts…
In 1995, Nevada landed the Western States Republican Leadership Conference. Our GOP National Committeeman at the time, Tom “Big Dog” Wiesner, was largely responsible for bringing the WSRLC to Vegas. I was executive director of the Nevada Republican Party at the time, so I was in on the planning meetings.
Wiesner, political consultant extraordinaire Benay Stout and a few others created the “Keystone Corporation” that year for two purposes: (1) To solicit sponsors to underwrite the WSRLC, and (2) continue afterwards with efforts to build on the success of the WSRLC and bring the Republican National Convention to Las Vegas sometime in the future.
The Keystone group was extremely effective in #1…and the fall event was a smashing financial success, even though presidential candidate Sen. 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 the interest in bringing the national convention here waned among members, and Keystone morphed into more of a pro-business PAC helping to elect pro-business conservative candidates.
Nevada GOP Chairman John Mason, who was chairman during the ’95 WSRLC, later served on the RNC’s 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 departure.
Then last April, at the Republican National Committee meeting in Beverly Hills, California, McDonald made a presentation suggesting Vegas as the host city for the 2016 national convention. The idea sat idle for most of the summer, but caught fire among some GOP establishment 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.
But make no mistake. While speculative convention talk continued among some Nevada Republicans in the decade between Chairman Mason and Chairman McDonald, nobody took such talk seriously until McDonald’s presentation at the RNC meeting last spring.
Yes, Las Vegas 2016 has since taken the ball and run with it…and is doing a GREAT job, by the way…but it was McDonald who resuscitated the idea that was originally launched by Wiesner, Stout and Keystone way back in 1995.
That’s just a fact, no matter what Jon Ralston sez.
And now you know…the rest…of the story.