The Democratic National Committee has asked the capital city in perhaps the reddest state in the nation to submit a bid to host the 2016 presidential nominating convention — one of 15 cities in the running.
"This quadrennial convention is not just the place where we will nominate the leaders of our party and our country, but it is also an opportunity to provide our host city with a chance to showcase its community on a world stage," wrote DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a letter to the qualifying cities.
The letter said there are many logistical goals for the convention, but the committee is also looking for a city "that shares our values of equality, inclusion, diversity, respect and dignity."
Because of the construction and security issues that come with hosting the convention, Schultz said the DNC also would look for a city with "strong relationships with organized labor and those they represent."
Matt Lyon, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party, said the next step is for Mayor Ralph Becker and the Salt Lake Chamber and Visit Salt Lake to get together and decide if they plan to submit a formal bid.
Art Raymond, spokesman for Becker, said the city is "quite honored and pleased" to make the DNC’s short list, as it was when it made the GOP’s finalist list in 2012.
"Events like these bring both definitive economic benefits to our city as well as contributing to our growing reputation as a welcoming, forward-thinking and dynamic city that’s gaining in both its regional and national status," Raymond said. "We will review the bid invitation in partnership with Visit Salt Lake and other entities that will help us evaluate and respond to this great opportunity."
Republicans in Utah made a major push to host the 2012 Republican National Convention and Salt Lake City was a finalist for the honor, but lost out to Tampa, Fla. Party leaders discussed another bid for the 2016 convention, but have opted not to submit a bid.
Utah is a staunchly Republican state — GOP nominee Mitt Romney won nearly 73 percent of the vote in the state in 2012 and a Democratic presidential candidate hasn’t carried the state since Lyndon Johnson beat Barry Goldwater in 1964.
Lyon said the DNC’s recognition shows that Becker and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams are considered "rising stars" in Democratic circles and, while Utah isn’t a swing state, most states around Utah are moving in that direction and the Beehive State could draw attendees from those competitive areas.
The other cities in contention are Chicago; New York; Atlanta; Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit; Indianapolis; Las Vegas; Miami; Nashville, Tenn.; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia, Phoenix and Pittsburgh.
Thomas Burr contributed to this report.
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