Signaling a potentially boisterous start to the Republican convention, anti-Trump delegates claimed on Monday that they'd collected enough signatures of delegates to force a state-by-state roll call vote on changing party rules, a battle that party leaders hoped to avoid.
A slow-moving roll call of the states still seemed possible, which the rebels seemed likely to lose. But even staging that vote would mean that instead of using the convention's first day to emphasize unity behind Trump, the gathering could underscore the tumultuous relations between Trump and party leaders on one side and social conservatives on the other.
Republican Party leadership and officials from Trump's campaign said Monday they'd held 11th-hour talks with anti-Trump delegates to see if they could avert a messy floor fight, live on television, over the rules. But one official said the negotiations had failed, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.
Some socially conservative delegates — many backers of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's failed presidential bid — have wanted to force the convention to hold a state-by-state roll call on whether to change the party's rules in ways that would take power from GOP leaders. That bid includes an effort to let delegates back any candidate they want.
Party rules say a roll call should be held if a majority of delegates from seven states demand one.
But there are other requirements too — such as delivering proper documents to the secretary of the convention — that must be met to qualify for a roll call. The conservative delegates have said they think party leaders could thwart a roll call by taking steps like making it hard for them to deliver their documents.
After a frantic search on the crowded convention floor for the secretary, Susie Hudson, the rebellious delegates found a GOP official who said he would deliver the petitions.
"Now we take this fight to the floor," Dane Waters, a leader of the Delegates Unbound, said in the email.First, I should clarify that, contrary to what is indicated in the story, there are no rules yet governing the operation of the 2016 GOP convention until the convention adopts those rules. That is the first order of business at these types of conventions But the 2016 GOP Convention Rules Committee's report contains the recommendation that delegates be bound and, thus, not allowed to vote their conscience. Overcoming that recommendation for a floor vote on those rules is quite difficult, especially when technicalities can be used to stop challenges.
It is encouraging though that there are so many of my fellow Republicans who are refusing to back a liberal, unqualified con man as head of the GOP ticket.