Delegates organizing a last-ditch effort to deny the presidential nomination to Donald Trump argue that there is nothing to stop Republicans from changing rules to “unbind” delegates from primary and caucus results, allowing them to vote their consciences.
He’s one of Washington’s 44 delegates to the Republican National Convention next month, but Eric Minor has not been looking forward to nominating Donald Trump for president.
Now the Gig Harbor software consultant believes he and other delegates don’t have to.
Minor is among a few dozen organizers of a national effort, first reported by The Washington Post, to deny Trump the nomination at the Cleveland convention next month.
The renegades say there is nothing to stop Republicans from changing the rules at the convention to “unbind” delegates from primary and caucus results, allowing them to vote their consciences.
“This is about will the delegates, will the grass roots, rise up and do what’s right,” Minor said.
State GOP Chairman Susan Hutchison said Minor is incorrect and that Washington’s delegates are indeed bound by the results of the May 24 primary, in which Trump won 75 percent of the Republican vote.
“He doesn’t speak for the party or the delegation,” Hutchison said of Minor, adding that he doesn’t sit on the GOP rules committee, where his opinion might matter.
The last-ditch effort to dump Trump comes amid falling poll numbers after a series of controversies, including his attacks on a Latino federal judge that were savaged as “textbook” racism by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Some prominent Republicans have publicly questioned Trump’s fitness for office. Others worry his unpopularity could give Democrat Hillary Clinton an easy road to the White House, despite her tepid approval numbers and controversies including an FBI investigation into her use of a private email server while secretary of state.
Like most of Washington’s national GOP delegates, Minor is a supporter of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. But he said the effort is not about giving the nomination to Cruz, who has said he wouldn’t accept it in this manner.
The rebellion effort is inspired in part by Curly Haugland, a GOP delegate from North Dakota who has written a book in which he argues that party rules and historical precedent show delegates are allowed to vote as they choose.
Saul Gamoran, who was state chair for the Cruz campaign and is also a national delegate, said he doesn’t believe the “dump Trump” movement has broad support in the state delegation.
Gamoran himself is a Trump critic who has said he can’t vote for the New York real-estate mogul in November. But he said Trump won the GOP primaries fair and square so he should be the nominee, barring some extreme or unexpected development.
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“Donald Trump has not said or done anything subsequent to the primaries that he did not say or do before the primaries,” Gamoran said.
Minor said he’s been deluged with support since news of the movement broke, but admitted its success depends on many more delegates joining the effort before the national convention begins July 18.
“We’ll see how much it takes off,” he said. “There is no question about it, there is nervousness from delegates about stepping up.”
Trump’s Washington state campaign director, state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, said he’s not worried about an anti-Trump convention coup.
“We are going to have a united Washington delegation in Cleveland,” he said. “What you have here is a handful of people who are not happy with the outcome of the election.”
“You know what? Welcome to the republic. That’s the way elections go.”