— From NBC's Elizabeth Wilner
In announcing today, per the AP, that Minneapolis-St. Paul would be the site of their 2008 convention, Republicans certainly beat Democrats to the punch. The surprise of the announcement was more with the timing, not the locale. According to timetables laid out by both parties, Democrats were supposed to announce their convention first, by early next year. But with the Twin Cities arguably being the GOP's most desirable choice out of a short list that included New York (which was their site in 2004), Tampa (with the possibility of hurricanes in the summer), and Cleveland (a Democratic-friendly city), Republicans decided to stake their claim to the city now before Democrats did. Indeed, Democrats also had Minneapolis-St. Paul on their own short list, in addition to Denver and New York.
Today's announcement might also give a boost to Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who finds himself in a competitive contest for re-election this fall. While the selection of convention sites usually creates speculation about how it might impact potential presidential candidates -- example: John Kerry and Boston in 2004 -- the Twin Cities pick could help Pawlenty convince Minnesota voters that he can still deliver for the state.