GOP Hits NKY this Weekend
COVINGTON Republicans from across the state will converge on Covington this weekend as the Republican Party of Kentucky will hold its state convention in Northern Kentucky for the first time, an event that one of its organizers says pays homage to Northern Kentucky Republicans and their dedication to party politics.
Cathy Bell, administrative director of the state party, said party officials predict about 500 will arrive Friday and Saturday, convening Saturday at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center to, among other business, elect 25 delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention, which begins in late August in New York City.
The state convention for the party occurs every four years, during presidential election years, coinciding with the Republican National Convention.
"Here we come," said Greg Shumate, chairman of the Kenton County Republican Party and chair of the committee that is bringing the state convention here.
While the immediate economic impact of the state convention will be minimal the one-day convention only translates into about 50 hotel room nights the exposure for Northern Kentucky will be beneficial and the convention is not without political significance.
Shumate traces Northern Kentucky's political impact back to 1998, when Jim Bunning won election to the United States Senate.
"That's when a Northern Kentuckian won statewide office for the first time in God knows how long,'' said Shumate. "I think since then the rest of the state (party) kind of stood up and recognized Northern Kentucky. This is very significant. The margins we have been giving our Republican candidates up here are incredible.
"For instance, Kenton County led the way for (Kentucky Gov.) Ernie Fletcher last year. We gave Ernie a 10,000-plus vote margin, which was the highest in the state by a long shot. The fact that we've been delivering these kinds of margins is significant. In the 1998 race, if Jim Bunning doesn't run well in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties, he doesn't win the senate seat.''
Looking to the Future
Pat Frew, communications director for the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau, said that while the economic impact will be minimal, the exposure of Northern Kentucky attractions will be immeasurable.
"The significance isn't economic in terms of room nights,'' said Frew. "The significance is that 500 delegates will be able to analyze what we've got here, what we have going on the riverfront. The Levee, Aquarium. For many, it might be the first time they've been to Northern Kentucky. These are influential people, and just having them is important. This area is growing in recognition. Perceptions are changing many are no longer thinking of Northern Kentucky as being part of Cincinnati. We're getting on the radar screens. We want more association conventions, statewide conventions. The exposure this weekend can help us in the future, in attracting more state-wide conventions.''
The convention center can host up to 3,000 people.
Shumate invokes the same exposure theme. For example, a reception is planned for delegates Friday night at the Newport Aquarium.
"We're having a few events and hopefully that will attract the convention-goers to come and actually stay in our hotels, spend some time up here,'' said Shumate.
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