Dems Invite Tampa to Bid for 2016 Convention; Buckhorn Reluctant

Feb 28, 2014

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn speaks at a March 2012 ceremony where he was named one of eight honorary co-chairs to the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee for the Republican National Convention.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF 89.7 News

Tampa is one of 30 cities invited by the Democratic National Committee to apply to host the 2016 Convention, in part because of the city's success hosting the Republican National Convention in 2012.

However, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat who was almost ubiquitous in the run-up to and during the RNC week itself, is apparently leery about his own party coming to town in two years.

The Tampa Tribune reports Buckhorn's major concern is that there may be restrictions placed on local fund raising.

Corporate money figured heavily in the $50 million raised by the Tampa host committee to help pay for the RNC, but corporate money was prohibited in the rules for the Democratic convention that year — causing significant financial problems for the host committee in Charlotte, N.C.

“I would love to be the mayor that hosted the Democratic National Convention, but I’ve got to put my fiscal hat on before I put my political hat on,”Buckhorn said Thursday.

“I don’t want to be in a position of committing to perform as well as we performed last time with one hand tied behind my back. The Democratic infrastructure is not nearly what it needs to be to host that kind of event.”

In addition, Buckhorn is worried about new bidding rules that might require the DNC headquarters hotel be unionized, and the two hotels closest to the Tampa Convention Center, the Marriott Waterside and the Embassy Suites, don't have union representation.

Representatives of two of the invited cities, Portland and St. Louis, have already said they'll pass on the bidding because of financial concerns.

And even if Tampa were to be interested in bidding, they'd face stiff competition from other invited cities like Miami and Columbus, Ohio.