The Republican National Committee has selected Cleveland to host its 2016 convention, Chairman Reince Priebus announced on Tuesday. Though the GOP’s desire to carry Ohio’s 18 electoral votes in the 2016 presidential election undoubtedly played a major role in the selection, Republicans will be fighting an uphill battle. They haven’t carried the Buckeye State since 2004, and with good reason: Ohio, and Cleveland in particular, has been bucking Republican policies for years.
Here are five ways:
Cleveland is benefiting from $1.4 billion in stimulus funding. Cleveland and the surrounding area has benefited from more approximately $1.4 billion in stimulus funding following the 2008 financial collapse. This money helped support more than 1,000 projects critical to the local economy, including $800,000 for the Life Skills Center of Cleveland, $600,000 for the Cleveland Foodbank, and $1.5 million for the YWCA. Republicans in the House of Representatives unanimously opposed the recovery package and railed against it on the campaign trail, even as more than 100 GOP lawmakers championed local projects funded by stimulus dollars.
Cleveland is helping expand Obamacare coverage to thousands of lower-income residents. Even as most Republican governors oppose Medicaid expansion, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) instead came out in support of the key Obamacare reform and shepherded it through a panel of lawmakers last year. Now Cleveland residents will be key beneficiaries of the expansion, which is expected to extend health coverage to 275,000 of Ohio’s poorest residents and cut the state’s uninsurance rate by two-thirds. In fact, Ohio was one of the success stories of Obamacare during the law’s first open enrollment period, which ended in March of this year, and Cleveland is no small part of that triumph. Organizations ranging from the United Way of Greater Cleveland to the Cuyahoga County Health Alliance to a 38-foot RV helped sign up Clevelanders for Obamacare this year. Meanwhile, the RNC’s official 2012 platform calls for repealing the entirety of Obamacare and criticizes the health reform law for “tremendously expand[ing] Medicaid without significant reform.”
Cleveland is embracing marriage equality protections for LGBT couples. While the GOP’s 2012 national platform was unwavering in its opposition to LGBT equality, Cleveland has embraced equal rights for all families. Mayor Frank G. Jackson (D) is a member of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry and the city has has adopted a domestic partnership registry to provide legal protections for those in same-sex relationships not yet recognized by the state of Ohio. Cuyahoga County, for which Cleveland is the county seat, has done the same. Cleveland also has a strong non-discrimination ordinance that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Indeed next month, Cleveland and Akron will co-host the 2014 Gay Games, a major international sporting and cultural event.
Cleveland is supporting sensible new gun laws. The 2012 GOP platform was also stalwart in its opposition to new restrictions on guns and ammunition. While the vast majority of Congressional Republicans opposed post-Sandy Hook proposals to enhance background checks and restore the federal ban on assault weapons, Cleveland’s mayor has joined with Mayors Against Illegal Guns to support legislation to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Mayor Jackson, the city’s chief of police, the city’s public safety director, and numerous city and county officials have pushed legislation banning gun ownership for those under age 21 and, last month Jackson proposed a package of city gun laws including a creation of a gun-offender registry, a one-gun-every-90-days purchase limit, and a prohibition on the transfer of firearms to known felons.
Cleveland is recognizing climate change and lowering its carbon emissions. The 2012 GOP platform mocked President Obama for his focus on global climate change, objecting to his strategy that “elevates ‘climate change’ to the level of a ‘severe threat’ equivalent to foreign aggression.” While the Congressional GOP leadership denies climate science entirely, Cleveland has been actively working to reduce greenhouse gases and create a sustainable environment for its citizens. Last year, Mayor Jackson, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and the Climate Action Advisory Committee launched the Cleveland Climate Action Plan, a blueprint to bring greenhouse gas emissions down 80 percent from their 2010 levels by the year 2050. The plan notes that climate change is a real threat to the city, but that even if it were not a factor, “taking the actions laid out in this plan would still make sense from an economic, environmental, and equity perspective.”