Recently I was a delegate to the North Carolina Republican Party State Convention. This is not a summary of what all the distinguished speakers said, but rather an attempt to explain the system and how a few members of the establishment leadership forced their will on the delegates to the convention.
First, the reader must understand how GOP delegates are elected in North Carolina. Delegates at precinct conventions elect delegates to their county conventions and county conventions elect delegates to their district conventions. There are 13 district conventions, each which elects three delegates for a total of 39 (3 x 13) that go to the national GOP convention. Thirty more are elected at the state convention. And three are chosen by the GOP leadership, for a total of 72. That is why Ted Cruz was correct when he said that more than 66,000 people voted in Colorado in the selection of the 34 delegates to the national GOP convention, even though there was no state primary.
Based on the North Carolina primary results, 29 delegates must vote for Trump on the first ballot at the national GOP convention, 27 for Cruz, and the remaining 16 for other candidates who won delegates. If no one has a majority on the first ballot, delegates can vote for whomever they want on the second ballot. This is why voting for delegates is so important.
The North Carolina GOP convention started on a Friday afternoon. Those of us who are not members of the “establishment” assumed (correctly) that the Rules Committee would have some rules that would make it next to impossible for the convention delegates to express their support for anyone other than the nominating committee’s 30 chosen delegates to the GOP national convention in Cleveland, i.e., the so called “Chairman’s slate.”
Buried in the rules (Rule11, C) was a sentence that made it next to impossible to have an alternative slate because it requires that no delegate candidate on an alternate slate could also be on the Chairman’s slate. Of course, the Chairman’s slate was not revealed until shortly before the vote.
How could an alternative slate be offered without violating the rules if they do not know who is on the Chairman’s slate? Also, clearly there would be some delegates chosen on the Chairman’s slate that non-establishment people would also support. This rule made it impossible to vote for them without voting for their entire slate.
Therefore another delegate and I moved and seconded that this restrictive sentence be stricken (removed) from the rules. We both explained that, with this rule in place, virtually all NC state convention delegates would not be able to vote for all the people they would like to see going to the GOP national convention.
Since some establishment delegates did not come to the Friday opening session to discuss the rules of the convention, the preliminary estimate was that we had the majority to get this common sense amendment passed. But after debate was ended, just before the vote, a delegate frantically requested a headcount to see if a quorum was present. Once he asked for this, many supporters of the restrictive 11C rule, thinking they would lose the vote, left the room. Therefore, the moderator announced we did not have a quorum and that the meeting was adjourned until the next day.
That gave establishment politicians a day to put out the rumor that this was a Ted Cruz backed plot to stack Cruz delegates to the Cleveland national GOP convention. So the next day, many Trump delegates voted against the amendment and their own self-interest, even though we explained how the rule was designed to stop ANY non-establishment candidate’s delegates from putting up a slate. Our motion failed at Saturday’s general session.
Perhaps what we should have done is what the establishment people did the day before. Supporters of deleting the restrictive sentence should have left the convention as soon as the amendment was defeated. Then there would have been no quorum to vote for the Chairman’s 30 national delegate slate. This would have meant that only the 39 delegates elected at the 13 District conventions could legally go to the national GOP convention, according to the rules of the state convention. But since GOP convention rules are not legally enforceable, the establishment leaders would probably break their own rules and vote anyway. The establishment will continue to get whatever they want until enough people who are upset with the system take the time to learn the rules and show up and vote!
Mr. Davis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org