Scott Romney, brother of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney,… (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated…)
TAMPA, Fla. -- When it comes to prime seating on the Republican convention floor, it helps to have a hometown connection.
The Wisconsin delegation was primed and ready to watch vice presidential hopeful Paul D. Ryan on Wednesday night from seats in the front row, just before stage left.
And even though it's the bluest of blue states, Massachusetts has an unusually plum position for a GOP confab, with a great view from stage right. Mitt Romney, of course, served as the Bay State's governor and still calls it home.
And then there's Michigan, which not only is the state of Romney's birth, but a blue state that his campaign would desperately like to turn red. They're front row center -- best seats in the house.
It's a general rule at these party gatherings that real estate equals political value, and by and large, that's the case this year in Tampa for the Republicans.
Also boasting seating sections closest to the stage are key battlegrounds like Virginia, New Hampshire and Florida. Way to the back are solidly red states like Kansas, Alabama and Kentucky, and Democratic strongholds like Vermont.
But there are some exceptions. Nevada's delegation is far to the back, behind even Vice President Joe Biden's home state of Delaware.
And then there's Illinois. Doug Miller, a delegate from Texas, left his state's expanse near the bright lights of a far bank of television cameras to try to figure out why President Obama's home state scored seats right behind the Wisconsin delegation.
"What a great seat you have," he said to Daniel Peterson of Glenview, Ill. "All for a state we're going to lose by 15 points."
Even though he's a loyal Republican, Peterson will be taunting the bottom half of the GOP ticket tonight. When Ryan looks down to see his fellow Cheeseheads, he may catch Peterson clad in a hybrid Bulls/Bears jersey.
"A little too much Packer content for a Bears fan like me," Peterson said. "We need to show we're a big-tent party," he joked.