The 8 Cities That Could Host the 2016 GOP Convention

(John Gurzinski/AFP/Getty Images)

And then there were eight.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced on Twitter today the finalist cities to host the 2016 Republican Convention. And the nominees are … Cleveland, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Denver, Colo.; Dallas, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.

Many political observers believe Las Vegas is the front-runner in the battle to host the convention, which is usually a coronation ceremony for the party's presidential nominee and a time to finalize the party platform. Sin City has never hosted a major party convention, but the GOP hopes to be competitive for Nevada's six electoral votes in 2016.

At January's RNC winter meeting, representatives from Vegas did their best to entice GOP officials. Team Vegas paid for two plush lounges at the downtown Washington hotel where the GOP gathered, offering complimentary wine, plates of light appetizers and free Wi-Fi.

"Everybody knows Vegas can throw a party," Mike Slanker, a spokesman for Las Vegas 2016 host committee told ABC News last month. "We have a great story to tell. We can offer a product, logistically, that no one can match."

The cities will present their bids to the RNC on Monday in Washington, D.C. In mid-March, the list may narrow again for when the site selection committee packs their bags to visit the potential host sites. The winner will be announced in the late summer or early fall.

But the seven other cities on the list won't go down without a fight.

Three of the eight sites - Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus - are in the critical swing state of Ohio, which hasn't gone the GOP's way since George W. Bush won the state in 2004. Many see carrying Ohio as an important step in winning back the White House in 2016.

Phoenix also made the list, announced the morning after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a controversial, Republican-driven "religious freedom" bill that garnered national attention for being, in essence, an anti-gay bill.

Robert Graham, chairman of Arizona Republican Party, recently told ABC News that the city of Phoenix would be an ideal place to kick off the rebirth and rebranding of the Republican Party.

"A Phoenix symbolizes rising," Graham said, "and Republicans are rising."

A Republican convention in Phoenix would also come without the threat of hurricane or weather surprises.

"Yes, it's always hot, but it's a dry heat!" Graham said, noting that no humidity would be a welcome relief over the 2012 convention in Tampa Bay, Fla. He said Arizona also has to fight to remain a red state and a convention would help inspire a new generation of Republicans.

Meanwhile, Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, said Denver has proven itself again and again by hosting major events, from the Democratic convention in 2008 to the G8 to World Youth Day with Pope John Paul II.

"Denver has demonstrated the ability to put on a world-class event," Call said. "What a great place for Republicans to start a conversation about the next chapter of the party."

The GOP convention was held in Tampa Bay, Fla., in 2012; St. Paul, Minn., in 2008; and New York City in 2004.

ABC News' Jeff Zeleny and Rick Klein contributed to this report.