Just call them the Elite Eight of the 2016 Republican presidential campaign.
No, they're not candidates but cities that have made the first cut in the competition to host the 2016 Republican National Convention, where the party's standard bearer will be officially nominated. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus announced via Twitter the eight cities that will move to the next round of scrutiny.
Note the heavy concentration of cities in Ohio, one of the key swing states in any presidential election. Denver, which hosted the 2008 Democratic convention, is in the swing state of Colorado — which Barack Obama won in both of his campaigns.
Dallas, Las Vegas and Phoenix — a finalist for the 2012 Republican convention that was held in Tampa — are cities with growing Hispanic populations, and that's a key voting bloc the GOP would like to win. Kansas City hosted the 1976 Republican convention where Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan battled for the nomination.
The eight cities will have representatives in Washington on Monday to present their bids to the Republican National Committee. In mid-March, the site selection committee headed by former congresswoman Enid Mickelsen of Utah will travel to the cities with the idea of naming a smaller group of finalists in the late spring. Sometime in the late summer or fall, the full RNC will make a decision on the 2016 convention host.
Priebus has said repeatedly that he'd like Republicans to move up their convention to late June or sometime in July of 2016 to give the nominee a head start on fundraising and message development for the general election.
The political convention means big money to the host city. Tampa saw an economic impact of about $404 million from the convention that formally nominated Mitt Romney.