California GOP unhappy with Cleveland convention cheap seats

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BURLINGAME, California-- California Republicans are chafing at the cheap seats they're getting for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland -- not the nosebleeds in the upper decks of the Quicken Loans Arena, but the hotel in Sandusky, Ohio, where they're staying.

60. Miles. Away.

While the rest of the Republican Party will be catching cabs back to their luxurious Cleveland digs, the 800 or so California Republicans will be catching buses back, complete with a police escort to Sandusky.

"We're pretty bitter about that," said Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. "It sucks to be California, we're like the ugly stepchild. They need us for our cash and our donors, they don't need us for anything else."

Plum seating and hotels at the national conventions is the stuff of bragging rights for party regulars and a typical sign of each state's standing in the party and influence in the national race.

Democrats put Virginia up front at the 2008 convention for Barack Obama's nomination when they needed an amped-up base of supporters to win the swing state. But Democrats from across the Potomac, in Maryland, were shuffled to the upper deck because Maryland is a reliable bloc of electoral votes -- no wooing necessary.

California Republicans have the opposite problem -- they've been pushed aside because their party has almost no hope of winning the state in November. Veterans remember their treatment in Minneapolis in 2008 and Tampa four years ago.

"We're not a swing state, they know it's going to go Democrat so they're not going to try to put us at the center of the action, so we gotta take what we get. And we get to ride the bus," said Sue Caro, the former chairwoman of the Alameda County Republican Party.

Caro remembered the 30-mile ride from their hotel in Tampa -- including bus transfers that took an hour-and-a-half. "Now we're gonna double that distance?"

Convention spokesman David O’Neill told Fox 8 News the RNC wanted to keep respective delegations together in the same hotel.

“All of the 56 delegations except one are within 35 minutes of downtown. California’s delegation is the only one outside that distance because of the huge size of its delegation. The other three large delegations (Ohio, Texas, New York) are downtown closer to The Q because they all have a candidate still running for the nomination,” O’Neill said in a statement.

The logistics are hard, the California delegates acknowledged, because there aren't many hotels that can accommodate upward of 800 people. Dhillon said the national party told her that Ohio, New York and Texas (the home states of John Kasich, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz) and the national party staff were getting the four biggest hotels in Cleveland.

For some Californians, Sandusky isn't an option. But that doesn't mean they're not going.

Rocky Chavez, a former candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Barbara Boxer and a Marine, said he'd find a place to crash with another Marine.

Shupe, Shupe

Matt Shupe, a California Republican operative, is staying with Matt Shupe, a Cleveland Democrat.

California's Shupe, who works for Chavez, Dhillon and other Republicans, said he looked up every other Matt Shupe he could find when he joined Facebook 10 years ago. He kept in touch off and on with Cleveland Matt Shupe and his wife over the years.

"When all this kinda happened I said, 'Hey, I know someone in Cleveland,'" California Shupe said. "So I started talking to him and his wife and they said I can come and stay with them."

Cleveland Shupe's law office is right next to the convention site, so California Shupe is going to carpool with him.

"His law office is literally in the business park where the convention is happening," California Shupe said. "So I'm going to go crash with Matt Shupe and he's gonna let me carpool into the convention with him."

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