James' return to Cleveland could complicate GOP

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LeBron James Returns To Cleveland


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Balloon drops might be competing with basketballs in Cleveland.

NBA superstar LeBron James' announcement Friday that he was returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA could throw up a roadblock for Republican plans to nominate their presidential contender in 2016 on Lake Erie's shores. If James leads his team into post-season play in 2016, Republicans could find their preferred June 28 start date for the convention impossible.

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That leaves Republicans with the backup date of July 18 - still earlier than parties typically nominate their presidential hopeful in recent years, but later than RNC chief Reince Priebus preferred.

"All options remain on the table as we're still very early on in the negotiation process," RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said. "We're excited about Cleveland, and LeBron's return is further evidence that it's a city on the rise."

Priebus insisted his party's convention be scheduled for early summer of 2016, roughly two months sooner than has become the norm. That would give the GOP's next presidential nominee quicker access to tens of millions of dollars in general election cash.

"The candidate can be broke but they're not able to raise general election money until the convention is held," Priebus said earlier this week.

But James' return to the Cavaliers from the Miami Heat could complicate that timeline and perhaps Republican efforts to win the White House. Teams with James have made it to the league finals in five of the last eight seasons, and his move to Cleveland is unlikely to reverse that trend.

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James' return to Cleveland could complicate GOP
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James waves to his fans in the city of Akron after taking the stage during his Welcome Home Ceremony at Infocision Stadium at the University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks to his fans in the city of Akron after taking the stage during his Welcome Home Ceremony at Infocision Stadium at the University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks during a press conference at The University of Akron before the kickoff of his welcome ceremony at InfoCison Stadium at The University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks during a press conference at The University of Akron before the kickoff of his welcome ceremony at InfoCison Stadium at The University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks to his fans in the city of Akron after taking the stage during his Welcome Home Ceremony at Infocision Stadium at the University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Miami Heat's LeBron James talks with the media during a press conference at the AmericanAirlines Arena on June 17, 2014, in Miami. (Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat keeps the ball away from Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat comes on the court after a timeout as his team plays the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts on the bench against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Miami Heat's LeBron James talks with the media during a press conference at the AmericanAirlines Arena on June 17, 2014, in Miami. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots the ball against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots against Boris Diaw #33 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andrew D Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives against Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: Boris Diaw #33 of the San Antonio Spurs controls the ball against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during Game Four of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2014 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat controls the ball as Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs defends during Game Four of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots over LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during Game Four of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on June 12, 2014. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 10: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots against Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game Three of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on June 10, 2014.  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 10: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Three of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 10, 2014 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 05: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat sits on the bench after leaving the game in the fourth quarter with cramps against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 05: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat sits on the bench after leaving the game in the fourth quarter with cramps against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 05: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat sits on the bench after leaving the game in the fourth quarter with cramps against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LeBron James #6, Mario Chalmers #15 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat return to the court against the San Antonio Spurs during Game 5 of the NBA Finals on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio,Texas. The Spurs defeat the Miami Heat 107-84 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to win the NBA Finals Championship, June 15, 2014 in San Antonio,Texas. The Spurs won the best of seven series 4-1. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat and Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs embrace after the San Antonio Spurs victory in Game Five and winning the 2014 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andrew D Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat speak to the media following a 104-87 loss in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
Chris Bosh, LeBron James and other members of the Miami Heat watch from the bench during the fourt quarter of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, June 15, 2014 in San Antonio,Texas. The Spurs defeat the Miami Heat 107-84 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to win the best of seven series 4-1. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck 
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives into Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat defends Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks to his fans in the city of Akron after taking the stage during his Welcome Home Ceremony at Infocision Stadium at the University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
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Cleveland on Tuesday won the unanimous backing of a RNC panel, all but guaranteeing the GOP's 2016 presidential pick will accept the party's nomination in perennially hard-fought Ohio. RNC lawyers are now in negotiations with Cleveland's organizing committee over the exact terms of the bid, including how many weeks of early and exclusive access Republicans can expect in the Cavaliers' arena.

If the RNC insists on its preferred date and weeks of early access to hang balloons and bunting, the Cavaliers could be forced to look at other venues for post-season play. Ohio State University's basketball arena in Columbus is one such option.

The full 168-member RNC is expected to finalize the deal next month.

Ohio's allure as a political prize proved tempting. The last candidate to win the White House without Ohio was John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, in 1960.

During the 2012 presidential race, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made Ohio a central piece of their strategies. Combined, they spent $150 million on television ads and were frequent visitors to the state, which narrowly broke in Obama's favor.
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