We did discuss it briefly. I don't think anybody really had the belief that we could raise $40 (million to) $50 million. Plus, we're not a swing state. I think that has a lot to do with who's chosen as well. —Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's capital city isn't competing to host the Democratic National Convention in 2016, despite being asked to bid to be the site for formally selecting the party's next presidential nominee.
"Nobody really had the energy to do it," Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon said Monday after the announcement that Birmingham, Alabama; Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; New York, Philadelphia and Phoenix are in the race.
Corroon suggested the possibility of a Salt Lake bid was quickly dismissed after the city was named in April by the Democratic National Committee as one of 15 potential hosts invited to submit a bid by last Friday.
"We did discuss it briefly," Corroon said. "I don't think anybody really had the belief that we could raise $40 (million to) $50 million. Plus, we're not a swing state. I think that has a lot to do with who's chosen as well."
Utah, of course, is one of the most Republican states in the country and had been a runner-up to host the 2012 Republican National Convention held in Tampa, Florida. The Utah GOP decided against bidding again for 2016.
Former Utah congresswoman Enid Mickelsen, who's heading up the Republican National Committee's site selection committee for 2016, said Salt Lake probably isn't ready for either party's convention.
"I don't want to say never," Mickelsen said between site visits to the four cities still in the running for the GOP convention — Cleveland, Denver, Dallas, and Kansas City, Missouri. "You can shoehorn a convention into lots of places."
But she said Salt Lake's 2012 bid suffered because too many high-end hotel rooms are in Deer Valley and other mountain resorts, creating transportation issues to attend a convention at EnergySolutions Arena downtown.
And the amount of money that must be raised is also prohibitive for a city the size of Salt Lake, especially now that Congress is no longer contributing to the cost of the conventions, Mickelsen said.
"The community will have to want to spend the money on this rather than something else," she said. "I think Salt Lake could do it. The problem is you have other cities that are bigger with more resources that are going to step forward."
Art Raymond, spokesman for Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, said Monday the city was "very honored to make the short list of potential host cities" but decided not to go forward with a bid.
"Recognizing that a handful of other contenders were already making heavy investments of time and resources in their bid efforts, city leaders opted to sit out of this round of competition," Raymond said.
But even though "the timing was not right" for 2016, Raymond said the city would welcome opportunities to host future political conventions — either Democratic or Republican.
Corroon said he hoped the completion of the planned convention hotel by the Salt Palace Convention Center would boost another bid, even though the city still likely would fall short of having enough high-end hotel rooms.
The party chairman said bringing Democrats to GOP-dominated Utah is always going to be tough.
"We had the atheists convention here, so I think we could have the Democratic convention here," said Corroon, a former Salt Lake County mayor. "It's just that much harder for Democrats."
Besides Salt Lake, other cities that apparently turned down the Democrats' invitation to bid for 2016 were Atlanta; Chicago; Detroit; Indianapolis; Las Vegas; Pittsburgh; Miami and Orlando, Florida; and Nashville, Tennessee.
Democrats are expected to chose their convention site by early 2015.
Mickelsen said the GOP site selection committee expects to make a recommendation to Republican Party leaders in August.