Guest Opinions

Idaho delegates: No move to ‘dump Trump,’ but only to thump rules

RNC chairman Reince Priebus puts the gavel down after GOP officials dismissed demands for a roll call vote during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Monday, July 18, 2016. (Los Angeles Times/TNS)
RNC chairman Reince Priebus puts the gavel down after GOP officials dismissed demands for a roll call vote during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Monday, July 18, 2016. (Los Angeles Times/TNS) TNS

The story on TV about the Republican National Convention is almost entirely focused on the disgruntled delegates who want to “Dump Trump” and/or “#FreetheDelegates.” The portrayal of the RNC as one giant attack on Trump’s status as the presumptive nominee is really the sideshow and is not the main event, nor is it why Idaho delegates have come to Cleveland.

Pandemonium ensued on the 2016 convention’s first day as the Rules Committee chair moved to adopt the committee’s report. What should have happened was that the chair should have recognized the request of several states for a roll-call vote on the overall package presented by the committee.

"If there's anything that can unifty the Republican Party," says Boise State political scientist Corey Cook from Cleveland, "it is the argument that the country will be more safe under a President Trump and that Obama and Hillary Clinton have fail

The RNC rules provide for a roll-call vote when the majority of the delegates from seven states request it. Seemingly prepared for the moment, a crew of folks in neon green hats on the floor who were identified as “floor whips” quickly created and distributed a “withdrawal form” to negate the signatures that had been previously collected on the petitions to request a roll-call vote.

After the band stalled proceedings, a delegate from Utah was recognized and made a motion to call for a roll-call vote. The presiding officer ruled that while the required number of petitions had indeed been submitted, several delegates’ signatures had been voided by the subsequently filed withdrawal forms.

The presiding officer declared that three of the nine states’ requests were no longer valid, and thus only six states had valid petitions to request a roll-call vote. The use of this “withdrawal form” is not part of any normal process or recognized within any RNC rule.

It was very clear to most everyone on the floor that the vote was on the rules and the rules committee. But the media reported it as an attempt by anti-Trump people to “Dump Trump.” The fringe minority has commanded the media’s attention, which is unfortunate because the real story is left untold.

The efforts by conservative delegates, who were largely Cruz supporters, were not to “Dump Trump.” The efforts were to argue for rules changes that would increase transparency in the way the party is run and decentralize power away from Washington, D.C., to state parties and closer to the people. The efforts by this group on the floor were simply to allow for a recorded roll-call vote on those issues and nothing further.

The truth is that the large majority of conservatives here at the convention, especially Idaho delegates, are united in moving the Republican Party forward, but they do want a fair and open process. There are no efforts being organized by Idaho delegates to walk out or stifle progress or to create demonstrations that allow the sideshow to carry on as if it were the main event. Our Idaho delegation is dedicated to representing Republicans back home and we are all united in our mission to defeat Hillary Clinton.

Norm Semanko is a current member of the RNC Rules & Order of Business Committee, former general counsel for the RNC and former Idaho State Republican Party chairman. You can read Norm’s blog live from the RNC at redstatessolutions.com.

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