Cook, Boise State’s dean of the School of Public Service, is writing from the GOP convention for the Statesman. See his Monday report here.
Donald Trump promised that this year’s Republican convention wouldn’t be boring. I’m not sure that the opening session was what he had in mind. After a voice vote over the party rules went in favor of the Trump campaign, the Colorado delegation walked out in protest, at least one finance committee member resigned on the spot, and a loud chorus of boos and catcalls rained down on the RNC leadership.
The vote was a relatively routine one — to approve the rules committee report for the convention. But this time, a substantial minority of delegates wanted to force a roll-call vote. Though much of the reporting has been focused on the efforts of a small group of “never Trump” voters to unbind the delegates and derail the Trump candidacy, in reality this effort is far more about the 2020 election and the contention of some delegates that the states committed to closed primary elections ought to be rewarded with additional delegates in the upcoming election. It is quite possible that had those closed primary rules been in effect this time around that Sen. Ted Cruz, or another reliably conservative choice, would have won the nomination.
For a roll-call vote to take place, a majority of delegates in seven states needed to request that vote. Nine states filed the necessary petition. Idaho was not one. Though 20 of the 32 delegates to this year’s Idaho convention supported Sen. Cruz, a majority did not support the petition. When the voice vote on the rules was taken and the no’s seemed to at least equal the yeas, the gavel came down. And the convention erupted. After a long delay, it was announced that three states had rescinded their petitions, and the issue was deemed settled.
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This was one of the more amazing things I’ve seen at a convention. The stakes were not particularly high, yet in seemingly manipulating or ignoring the rules (depending on your perspective), the Trump and RNC forces set off a firestorm. Delegates I’ve spoken with aren’t sure how this fissure is overcome. The first goal of this convention is to unify the party. The morning session actually set things back.