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Published: Friday, 8/8/2014

DNC will not rank Columbus’ chances as convention host


COLUMBUS — The Democratic National Committee’s executive director would commit to only one thing Thursday after two days of touring Columbus in preparation for picking a site for the party’s 2016 presidential convention.

When asked about her biggest surprise about Ohio’s capital city, Amy Dacey said, “Probably how much I love Jeni’s Ice Cream. I didn’t know that before I got here, but I am addicted to salted caramel.”

That was as about as far as she would go to assess how Columbus might stack up to Philadelphia, Brooklyn, N.Y., Birmingham, Ala., and Phoenix. Columbus was just the first city the technical team has visited.

Ms. Dacey also declined to describe the ideal convention city.

“Frankly, if I were in their shoes, I would not tip my hand at all,” said Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman, who grew up in Toledo. “They still have other cities to review … and they’re trying to provide the fairest process that they know. In defense of them, I think they’re doing a great job.”

Mr. Coleman, a Democrat, said he believes the team was most impressed about the collaboration the city has offered, bringing together labor, business, and political interests as one to promote Columbus and the impact they believe a convention would have on the 2016 election results.

A final decision is expected late this year or early next.

During its two-day visit, the team looked at key sites for potential convention events, such as Nationwide Arena, the Columbus Convention Center, Columbus COSI (Center of Science and Industry), and Ohio Stadium.

The DNC has not set dates for its convention, but is looking at July or August.

It remains to be seen whether the Republicans’ recent selection of Cleveland for their 2016 convention would affect the Columbus bid.

Left unspoken during the last two days are questions about the top of Ohio’s Democratic ticket this year, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.

In an email sent to supporters Thursday, the challenger to Republican Gov. John Kasich cited a follow-up checkup for one of his sons for non-Hodgkins lymphoma as the real reason he had nearly disappeared from the campaign trail this week.

“We’re not looking for sympathy; lots of families have gone through the same or worse,” the letter from Mr. FitzGerald and his wife, Sharon, read. “But it’s helped us learn a lesson: That whatever is thrown at the FitzGerald family — personal, political, medical, whatever — we’re going to survive and just get stronger as a family unit.”

Late last week, a Westlake police report surfaced indicating Mr. FitzGerald was seen in a car, with a woman who was not his wife, in a parking lot at an industrial complex during the early morning hours in October, 2012. The investigating police officer reported they were “just talking.”

Mr. FitzGerald has said nothing improper occurred, and the woman, Joanne Grehan, a member of an Irish delegation visiting the county, issued a statement that the situation was “innocuous.”

It was later revealed that Mr. FitzGerald had been driving illegally for years without a valid, permanent license.

Mr. FitzGerald will be back on the campaign trail today with stops in Port Clinton and Bowling Green. Mr. Kasich, meanwhile, also will address potential voters in the region with stops today in Bowling Green, Lima, and Bryan, and Saturday in Port Clinton and Tiffin.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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