No grassroots revolt against Donald Trump’s accelerating journey to the Republican presidential nomination materialized, as it has in some other states, when Delaware Republicans gathered Saturday for their annual convention.
The State Republican Party held its convention in Dewey Beach at the Baycenter on Saturday, April 30, making decisions about candidates and picking delegates to the national convention in Cleveland.
Nearly all of Delaware’s 16 delegates to the national GOP convention in Cleveland are committed to supporting Donald Trump even if the convention’s nominee-picking process goes past a first ballot, Trump campaign chairman Rob Arlett said Saturday.
The slate of delegates, approved at the state party’s Dewey Beach convention Saturday morning, is a roster of 16 party activists, elected officials, and behind-the-scenes workers who make the party’s metaphorical trains run on time. It includes Ken Simpler, the state treasurer; Richard Forsten, the party’s parlimentarian; Rep. F. Gary Simpson, R-Milford; Robert Stout, a Middletown town council member; and Thomas Draper, the founder of television station WBOC-TV.
The delegates are bound to support Trump on the Cleveland convention’s first ballot after the New York businessman won Delaware’s GOP primary with 60 percent of the vote. According to the party’s rules, though, Trump must earn 1,237 delegate votes on that first ballot to clinch the nomination. If he does not, the convention would vote again, and on subsequent ballots delegates could vote their own preferences.
But Arlett said he’s been assured that 15 of the 16 party-endorsed delegates would continue to vote for Trump on later ballots, if it comes to that.
“I have been told that we would very likely get 15 on the second ballot,” Arlett said. “We have confidence, at the Trump campaign, that they will follow through to represent the will of the people throughout the process in Cleveland.”
Joe Uddo, right, a campaign staffer for the Donald Trump presidential campaign, listens at the Delaware GOP convention in Dewey Beach on Saturday, April 30, 2016.
Stout, one of the delegates, said he was a Ron Paul supporter earlier in the primary process. But he said he felt an obligation, as a delegate, to support Trump even on a second or third ballot.
“The people of Delaware have spoken, right? That’s the will of the people of Delaware. As a delegate, I will support the will of Delaware. I cannot speak for other individuals, but that’s my stance.” -GOP delegate Robert Stout
At the convention, held in a second-floor Dewey Beach ballroom, Trump lapel stickers were easy to spot; stickers or signs for the remaining GOP presidential candidates, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, were thin on the ground.
There were still party activists at the convention who were less than thrilled that Trump was on his way to leading the party towards the November election. Ken Currie, a Sussex County Republican, said he wasn’t a Trump supporter, and he said news coverage of Trump’s speeches and rallies sometimes made him cringe. Until the late July convention has taken place, he said, he was resisting entreaties to donate to the Republican National Committee.
But, he said, he didn’t see any point in trying to keep Trump from the nomination.
“Even if he doesn’t get to 1,237, he’ll be so close. He’ll be so close,” Currie said.
Of the 341 possible votes on the delegate slate, more than 300 rank-and-file Republicans voted to send the slate to Cleveland, and eight no votes were recorded.
Charlie Copeland, the party’s statewide chairman, said that was a sign the party had decided to unify behind Trump as a presumptive nominee.
“You need to make sure everybody gets the chance to make their statement, say their peace, right? Everybody should be heard within the Republican family,” Copeland said. “We’re here to represent Republicans in Delaware, and Republicans in Delaware said, 60 percent and change, we like Donald Trump. And we get it. We’re going to be unified to do that.”
Contact James Fisher at (302) 983-6772, on Twitter @JamesFisherTNJ or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Delaware GOP delegates to the national convention in July:
F. Gary Simpson