Republicans from all across the Hoosier State will get a taste of Southwestern Indiana hospitality in June 2018 as the republican state convention will be coming to Evansville for the first time. Local and state GOP leaders in addition to republican legislators made the announcement at Ford Center Friday morning. State GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer said the reason Evansville was selected as the host city was because it provided the “complete package.”
The state republican convention will be held June 8th-9th, 2018 at Ford Center. Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said the convention will be a boon for the city both economically and politically.
“We know Fort Wayne exists. We know South Bend exists. We go there for meetings. We haven’t been in a position to host meetings or conventions in a while so this is a real opportunity to make sure [state officials] understand that we are on the map,” Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said. “That dot is a little bigger than maybe they thought.”
The republican convention has historically been held in Indianapolis. In 2014, the convention was held in Fort Wayne, marking the first time the major convention was held outside of the Circle City.
In 2018, the convention will hit the road again, potentially bringing as many as 2800 people to Evansville.
“I think it’s absolutely fabulous. Those who hear about [southwestern Indiana] all the time at the statehouse when we bring up pieces of legislation, they will get to see the area for themselves now,” said State Rep. Holli Sullivan (R-District 76).
During the two day event, the state party will adopt its platform in addition to nominating candidates for secretary of state, auditor and treasurer. The first day of the convention includes socializing for state republican officials. The following day, the formalities of approving nominees and party platform takes place.
Huper said what distinguished Evansville’s proposal was that it included a large venue for the convention, in addition to ample hotel space. The new Hilton DoubleTree hotel was a key cog in the proposal.
“To me it seems like its a little bit of the Field of Dreams coming true: if you build it they will come,” Huper said. “There’s been a lot of infrastructure put in here and a lot of investment by both the city and independent businesses. You’re starting to see, as the mayor said, conventions coming, events, concerts coming. We’re happy to showcase the mayor and the city’s efforts.”
In order to accomodate the state convention, the regional Jehovah’s Witnesses convention had to re-arrange its 2018 schedule, according to Bob Warren, the executive director of the Evansville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
The convention will come at no cost to the taxpayers, Mayor Winnecke said. However, local republicans have pledged to raise $100,000 in private donations for the state party.