Monday, July 04, 2016

GOP Coming Apart At The Seams? Just A Little Trump Bonus


As anyone could have easily predicted, Trump is ripping open the seams that bind the Republican Party together. Friday, Mark Winslow, "a member of the Tennessee Republican State Executive Committee says he's resigning his position, blasting state party leaders and questioning the direction of the Tennessee Republican Party on his way out. In his resignation letter, Mark Winslow said the party's "soul rotted away some time ago"... As it's currently constituted, the TNGOP is really nothing more than a small corrupt core group who view our party as their private club and personal piggy bank. Money is passed around, doled out to friends, handed to favored consultants and staffers who ignore bylaws or common sense. Rules are arrogantly and routinely broken by officers and staff with no consequences or accountability."

Winslow was angry because the party hierarchy was backing efforts to steal the Republican nomination from Trump with shenanigans at the convention. Trump won every county in the state but one (Williamson County, south of Nashville, where Rubio slipped by him) and took the state with 332,702 votes (38.9%) to Cruz's 211,159 (24.7%) and Rubio's 180,989 (21.2%). Trump won 33 delegates, Cruz 16 and Rubio 9, but the party bosses "chose people to serve as delegates or alternate delegates for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump who didn't actually support" him.

This kind of fratricide is playing out among Republicans from coast to coast. Sunday, the L.A. Times reported how this has been playing out in Colorado, where there are fears that Trump's presence at the top of the ticket will have disastrous consequences from down-ballot candidates.
To understand the dilemma Colorado Republicans wrestled with at a conservative gathering this weekend, one only had to look at the range of speakers, whose positions on Donald Trump ran the gamut from enthusiastic support to vehement opposition.

...Perhaps nowhere does Trump’s candidacy vex Republicans more visibly than Colorado, which is home base for the latest effort to block his nomination at this month’s national convention, and where Republicans faced Trump’s ire during the primaries for its complex caucus system.

“We call it the Frontier State for a reason. There's a lot of independently minded thinkers out here,” said state GOP Chairman Steve House. “We have a lot of unaffiliated voters for a reason. I think that it's just that we have delegates who are not convinced he's the right guy.”

Trump tried to make amends, acknowledging the pivotal role this swing state will play in November. “We do have to win Colorado,” he told a crowd of several thousand Friday. “I’ll be back a lot.”

He also gave a nod to two of the state’s core conservative constituencies-- gun rights advocates and evangelical Christians. But the mentions struck some attendees as discordant.

“He's at a think tank aligned with a conservative Christian college. And then he says, ‘Are there any evangelicals here?’ It's a weird way to talk about it when you're in [front of] this audience,” said Ryan Call, a former chairman of the Colorado Republican party.

...Trump also dwelt on his past squabbles with the state’s establishment, lamenting the complicated delegate selection process that left him without any loyalists in its delegation to Cleveland. In the spring, Trump loudly denounced the system as corrupt, stoking a pushback against state Republicans that was so fierce that House received death threats.

Trump turned off some summit-goers by bringing up his complaints about the state’s delegate process again.

“He’s here to unify, supposedly, and get us on board with his message. And he comes and drives a dagger in us again,” said Kendal Unruh, a Denver-based schoolteacher and longtime conservative activist who said Trump’s original tirade against the Colorado caucuses hardened her opposition to him.

She has since become one of the most public faces of the “free the delegates” movement that seeks to enable convention delegates to vote for whomever they’d like, instead of being bound to the results of their state’s caucus or primary.

At the gathering, Trump had a contingent of vigorous backers, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who dismissed the movement as “Republicans Against Trump-- or RAT for short."

Republican Senate candidate Darryl Glenn, looking to unseat incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) in a closely watched race, pledged to stand with Trump and pleaded with attendees to do the same.

But the anti-Trump faction was also prominent at the weekend gathering. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, one of the Republicans most ardently against Trump, spoke to student groups and at a donor dinner, where, according to attendees, he talked about the importance of virtue and how neither candidate struck him as having strong enough morals to earn his support.

Some of the most vocal Trump holdouts in conservative media, including Erick Erickson and [Ben] Shapiro, were also given prominent speaking slots.

“Conservatism is in danger of slaughtering its principles on the altar of Trump,” Shapiro said in scathing remarks that drew a mix of boos and cheers.

Jeff Hunt, the director of the Centennial Institute, the conservative think tank that organized the event, said he heard objections from all sides about the conference’s mixed fare.

“‘Why are you inviting Donald Trump? He's not a conservative.’ I heard that from the Ben Sasses of the world,” Hunt said. “And then from the other side I heard, ‘Why are you inviting Ben Sasse and Erick Erickson? Because right now if we want to advance conservatism, we need to stop Hillary Clinton.’"

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At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Jack said...

So Tennessee has 33 delegates pledged to Trumpy the Clown, but they’re people “who didn't actually support” him? That raises an intriguing possibility.

It only takes 1,237 votes (one over one-half of the 2,472 delegates) to win the nomination, and Trump had 1,536 pledged delegates as of June 8, with only another 37 to be selected, mostly by party insiders.
It’s highly unlikely he got more than a handful of those 37. But just to make it interesting (and to use a nice round figure, though an unlikely one), let’s assume that he got, say, 30 of them.

That would give him 1,566 votes—329 more than he needs to get the nomination on the first ballot. So he would have to lose 330 of those delegates in order to fall short of 1,237.

Whether the number of Trump delegates is 1,536 (with none of the 37), 1,566 (with 31 of them) or even 1,573 (with all 37), none of them can voter for any other candidate on the first ballot. But that doesn’t mean that they have to vote at all.

Nothing in the rules prevents them from abstaining!

So let’s consider that overly optimist (for Trump) figure of 30 more delegates added after June 7, giving him a total of 1,566. If only 330 Trump delegates abstain on the first ballot, Trump comes up short with only 1,236 votes. Under that scenario, Tennessee’s 33 reluctant Trump delegates would be 10 per cent of the number of abstentions needed to deny Trump a first-ballot victory; and with his self-destructive behavior, it shouldn’t be hard to find another 297 delegates from the other 49 states—delegates who are legally bound to Trump, but not philosophically committed to him—to join in a mass abstention.

And then the fun begins!


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