Chill, baby, chill.
The full Republican National Committee confirmed the expected Friday by formally ratifying Tampa as host of the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Sure, the party's site selection committee had already picked Tampa over Phoenix and Salt Lake City. And party chairman Michael Steele even visited a short time later to offer congratulations.
But Friday's unanimous vote in Kansas City, Mo., made it official — no do-overs. A passel of Florida party officials were there for the occasion, in which Tampa's third try to land the convention proved the charm.
They included Republican Party of Florida chairman John Thrasher, Republican National Committee secretary and Florida National Committee member Sharon Day, Florida National Committee member Paul Senft, and Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee chairman Debbie Cox-Roush and Ken Jones, acting chief executive officer for the Tampa host committee.
"I was honored to join national committeewoman Day and national committeeman Senft to cast my vote in favor of bringing the 2012 Republican National Convention to Tampa Bay," Thrasher said. "It's a great day for Florida, and I couldn't be more proud of the hard work our vice chairman, Debbie Cox-Roush, (Tampa host committee co-chairman) Al Austin and his team, the Republican grass roots community of Tampa Bay, and so many others put into making this day possible."
It will be the third Republican convention held in Florida, the other two taking place in Miami in 1968 and 1972. Tampa lost out to New York City in 2004 and Minneapolis in 2008.
An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 people are expected to attend the convention, which will be held the week of Aug. 27, 2012, and centered around the St. Pete Times Forum. Among them will be 15,000 journalists, 6,000 delegates and alternates, 10,000 volunteers, 500 convention staffers and 10,000 visitors, including members of Congress and other dignitaries.
Unlike in past years, the event is not expected to cost local taxpayers money. The host committee intends to raise $40 million. Congress is expected to chip in $50 million to each convention for security expenses and the Federal Election Commission grants another $18 million to each party.
While Friday's vote was considered a formality, local organizers did not treat it that way.
"Today is a milestone," said Jones. "Until there's a final vote, you're not official."
Now, if only the weather will cooperate.
Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or firstname.lastname@example.org.