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Will controversy over RNC chairmanship affect Tampa convention? Some answers

TAMPA — Uncertainty over the leadership of the Republican National Committee has prompted questions about how the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa could be affected.

After all, RNC Chairman Michael Steele was in charge when Tampa was selected as the host city, and Steele could well be voted out in January.

Could Tampa lose the convention if a new chairman is elected?

No. Some prior convention sites have been largely decided by RNC leaders, but Steele left the decision up to the party's site selection committee, which unanimously picked Tampa over Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

So regardless of Steele's future, Tampa will host the five-day event expected to draw 45,000 people during the week of Aug. 27, 2012.

"No question at all. That's a done deal," said Bob Bennett, a Republican national committeeman from Ohio, who this week was named chairman of the RNC's Committee on Arrangements for the convention.

How would the Tampa Bay convention be affected by a new chairman?

Whoever leads the RNC will want to have the successful convention on the week of Aug. 27, 2012, so the impact would be minimal.

"No matter who the RNC chairman is, we have the same job to do,'' said host committee president Ken Jones of Tampa.

Hasn't convention planning been part of the controversy surrounding Steele?

Yes. Despite presiding over the RNC during the most successful election cycle Republicans have had in decades, Steele has been widely criticized for poor fundraising, excessive spending, and being a gaffe machine.

Some critics have questioned whether the RNC has misspent money on the convention already, including tens of thousands of dollars to rent a waterfront Treasure Island home for Belinda Cook, his former assistant serving as liaison to the convention.

It's safe to assume a new chairman would not keep Cook on board beyond her contract.

Is Steele likely to be re-elected?

Most Republicans were surprised that he sought another term, and he looks like an underdog. But these elections are unpredictable, often requiring multiple ballots before a winner emerges.

Other candidates include former Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis; former RNC deputy chairwoman Maria Cino; former RNC political director Gentry Collins; Wisconsin Republican chairman Reince Priebus; and former Missouri Republican chairwoman Ann Wagner.

What's the difference between the RNC's Committee on Arrangements and the Tampa Bay Host Committee?

They are separate entities.

The Committee on Arrangements is responsible for political activities, and is funded with an $18 million federal grant.

The host committee raises $50 million in tax-deductible contributions and essentially secures the venues and sets up the infrastructure for a big community event. It is legally required to be nonpartisan.

How is fundraising going so far for the convention?

The host committee is not required to file any campaign finance reports until after the convention, but committee members say fundraising has been strong to date.

Al Austin, the host committee's co-chairman, last month told a Republican club that they had raised nearly $10 million so far in cash and in-kind contributions.

How can I volunteer or get involved with the convention?

Check the host committee's website, www.2012tampa.com.

What's going on with the 2012 Democratic convention?

Democrats have not picked a city yet, but the finalists are Charlotte, N.C., St. Louis, Cleveland and Minneapolis.

Will controversy over RNC chairmanship affect Tampa convention? Some answers 12/18/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 4:54pm]
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