The 2016 Republican National Convention begins in Ohio on July 18. This year the question on everyone’s mind: will the GOP really nominate Donald Trump?
In recent weeks, Democrats in general and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in particular have been taking Trump to task for “fraudulent business practices,” with no signs of easing up in these last critical days. And as the convention gets closer, pushback may not be solely from the other party – but from within his own. Some GOP delegates are warning RNC chairman Reince Priebus that they won’t just vote for Trump because he’s standing at the top.
One such delegate: Sondra Ziegler of Lubbock. In an open letter to chairman Priebus, she explains why she’s not on board with the presumptive nominee:
“This is not a normal year. Most of us who are involved in this effort would not bail on the presumptive nominee if we didn’t believe the presumptive nominee was someone who was going to do great damage to our party. And he is not a suitable leader of the free world.”
Ziegler told the Texas Standard that while the chairman’s role is to support Trump, she and her fellow delegates have a different responsibility at the convention.
“Our party rules actually say that it’s the delegates that choose our nominee, not the popular vote,” she says. “So that’s our cry to Priebus: let us do our job.”
With GOP delegates questioning their allegiance to Trump, many are asking what happens if a new candidate is brought in so close to the general election, and whether that means a sure-win for Clinton.
“All of us who are working to get a different nominee for our party believe that we have many good choices with many good candidates in our party who can pick up this ball and run with it very quickly,” Ziegler says. “Donald Trump is very behind in fundraising, he’s way behind in organization. I have no doubt that we have several candidates that could pretty much step in and be plug-and-play. I think they could unite the party and really create some excitement going toward the general election – instead of this general sense of dread that I think the majority of our party has.”
Many have cited concerns over potential Supreme Court nominees as a reason to stick with Trump. If Republicans fail to show a united front during the general election, it could mean a Clinton-nominated judge in the open seat. For some, that’s a scenario they consider worse than a Trump presidency.
But Ziegler says it’s too late for a united front because there’s already “division and rancor and reluctance” by GOPers.
“We are trying to save our party from a general election disaster,” she says. “We believe Donald Trump is a failed candidate … He’s failing to unify our party around a consistent, coherent set of principles that we believe in. And so we’re trying to give Republicans another option, and we think that there are several candidates in our party who could step in and be successful.”
If Trump does win the nomination, Ziegler says she won’t vote for him, calling for lines to be drawn within the party. She says delegates need to demonstrate that they won’t vote for someone just because they win the nomination, if they don’t represent the party’s values.
“We have to stand for something as a party and I think there’s a real possibility that Donald Trump – if he’s elected – does real damage to our party,” she says. “And that is why we are involved in this effort through the delegates.”
Ziegler says she has no doubt that Republicans will break from the party if Trump becomes the nominee, but when asked what happens in that case, she says her focus is on the days ahead.
“My entire focus is what happens in these few days before the Republican National Convention,” she says. “What interest and excitement we can generate, and educate the delegates of their right to vote their conscience and then see what happens. Let the delegates delegate, and let’s see where this goes.”
Post by Allyson Michele.