Over the last few decades, the Republican conventions for candidates state and federal office, moved around the state. Most of these conventions turned out fine, but, after all, the capital of Connecticut is Hartford and that is where the action, especially political action, is.
So, two years ago, after the state party decided to keep delegations at full strength, the state convention came back to Hartford. Hartford now has all the pieces needed for visitors: hotels, convention center, plenty of parking, a central city shuttle, a helpful convention and visitor bureau and a great variety of restaurants. Also, the press does cover Hartford better than most cities.
Uniformly, delegates at the 2010 convention were pleased. The staff at the hotels and restaurants went out of their way to please conventioneers, both Republicans and Democrats. That year, both conventions were in Hartford on the same weekend.
Restaurants, like the Arch Street Tavern, Vito's and Salute! make extra efforts to insure satisfied customers. Jimmy at Salute! is getting a real reputation for welcoming new faces with little extras that surprize even the toughest of old political birds.
Although this year's G.O.P. convention will be just one day, Friday, May 18th, many from a distance will stay over, eliminating long drives. The convention may go on late into the evening and hospitality suites certainly will proceed into the wee hours. Some of the delegates may even visit attractions like the Mark Twain house or the Science Center on Saturday. Several restaurants in town (like Vito's by the Park at 24 Trumbull) open Saturday for lunch. Visitors, having enjoyed post convention festivities, might have lunch and enjoy the city before driving back to Stonington, Greenwich, Lakeville or Union.
Some delegates or candidates are even coming to the capital on Thursday night. Wayne Winsley of Naugatuck who considers himself "The Right Candidate at the Right Time" for the 3rd House district, doesn't want to take any chances. Road construction, accidents, oversleeping – all could affect the need to be at the Convention Center all day. He thinks he has the votes for the nomination and will consider a primary if he does not. Certainly, he is looking to make friends and influence people - isn't that the whole idea of the convention?