Two rebellious factions of Republican delegates came close to forcing a “roll call” vote on the party’s National Convention floor in Cleveland Monday, when a majority of members from 11 states attempted to reject RNC rules governing the convention itself and party business over the next four years.
The GOP’s Rules Committee agreed to party guidelines on Friday, but conservative and anti-Trump delegates vehemently disagreed with continuing provisions that allow for Independents and Democrats to vote in future Republican primaries, also known as “open” primaries, and for delegates to be bound by the voting results of their respective states’ nominating elections.
At approximately 4 p.m. Monday, a voice vote was called on the convention floor to adopt the party’s rules package, which presiding officer, Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), called for the ‘Ayes’. Subsequently, the chairman of the Utah delegation motioned for a recorded roll call vote, also rejected by Womack, causing a commotion and cries of foul play from those favoring reform.
When Womack first called for the ‘Ayes’ and ‘Nos’ around 3:30 p.m., the request for a recorded vote on the rules caused the presiding officer to step aside to give Trump campaign and RNC staffers time to whip against the motion, pressuring delegates who had signed state petitions in favor of a roll call vote to withdraw their names.
The lobbing effort worked, and four states no longer had the necessary amount of petition signatures to submit, which pushed down the number of states requesting the vote six, with seven required to approve the motion. Alaska was deemed not to have the necessary amount of signatures to begin with, a charge which a Last Frontier State delegate disputed.
“The convention secretary was not at the designated location where I was told to submit (the petition),” said Alaska delegate Fred Brown. “When the [motion] vote occurred, my mic was not turned on. When I attempted to present the signatures at the stage, my effort was ignored by the chair, and the security guard turned me away.”
States that successfully submitted petitions were Virginia, Colorado, Washington, Utah, Wyoming and North Dakota, while enough delegates from Minnesota, Maine, Iowa and Washington, D.C., removed their names to make the documents invalid.
Despite the apparent inevitably of the clash over party rules between idealistic delegates and RNC brass, a deal was nearly struck earlier on Monday by Virginia delegate and former state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli which would have averted the crisis. The near-agreement would have closed all 2020 GOP presidential primaries and allowed only registered Republicans to vote.
While Cuccinelli represented the convention’s conservative reform faction, the former gubernatorial candidate couldn’t convince anti-Trump leader, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), to compromise on continuing RNC’s requirement that 2016 delegates be bound to their state’s primary election results.
When the uproar subsided, Colorado delegate and leader of the state’s anti-Trump movement, Regina Thomson, expressed her disillusionment with the process to the Washington Post: “I’ve always heard about thugs in our party and how they control things, now I’ve seen it first-hand. When you actually look at them in the eyeballs then you watch them do these things, it’s disheartening.”
Watch the full sequence of events from Monday’s convention floor vote, below.
[AP] [Politico] [Washington Post] [C-SPAN] [Photo courtesy AP/Reuters/Brian Snyder/Jae C. Hong/Salon]