Rep. Paul Ryan and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Lucian Perkins/The Washington Post)

The Republican National Committee announced Wednesday that it will host the GOP convention in July 2016, significantly pushing up the party's window for officially nominating a presidential candidate as part of an effort to bolster the party before the general election.

The July 18 convention will take place in Cleveland, Ohio. CNN first reported the news, which an RNC spokesperson confirmed to The Washington Post Wednesday night.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the RNC and fulfilling our responsibilities as the host city along with reaching the goals set to execute the best possible political convention in 2016,” said Terry Egger, President and CEO of the Cleveland Host Committee in a statement.

The decision to hold the convention earlier than in previous years is part of a broader strategy to strengthen the eventual nominee ahead of the general election. RNC Chair Reince Priebus has spoken about his desire to shorten the length of the Republican primary season, and limit the number of primary debates. Those changes could, in theory, prevent a drawn-out contest that might damage the eventual nominee.

With a potentially party-fracturing primary season out of the way by mid-summer, the candidate will be able to shift his or her attention to uniting the party before the general election in November. An earlier date also means that the Republican nominee will have significantly earlier access to-general election funds, which can’t be accessed before the convention.

The 2012 GOP convention began on Aug. 27, and the 2008 convention began on Sept. 1.

The Democratic Party is also considering holding its own convention in July: The three dates currently under consideration are July 18, July 25 and August 22. Those dates all fall earlier than the 2012 and 2008 Democratic conventions, which were held in early September and late August, respectively. A location for the event has yet to be set, but the Democratic National Committee has narrowed its selections to New York City, Philadelphia and Columbus.