Now that we are nearing a crucial point in our Republican Primary season, a few reminders are in order concerning the electoral process. Quite a few people were shocked to hear that Cruz is “stealing delegates from Trump“, ahead of the convention. While the majority of voters may find this a surprise, it shouldn’t be. Sad to say, what Cruz is doing is entirely within the rules, and should have been anticipated. Why? Read On….
To the average voter or new voter, the election process looks fairly cut and dried: You vote. If you’re really enthusiastic, you might also volunteer to drive people to polls, or be a poll watcher. But for the vast majority of people, their part begins and ends at the voting booth, with the occasional yard sign, bumper sticker, or donation thrown in.
These voters assume that the “delegates” pledged to a candidate belong to them. They also seem to think that “delegates” appear magically. They’re awarded by the Delegate Fairy, tied up in a nice neat set of rules. Sorry, everyone–that’s not how it works, as many are learning now.
You see, there are people called Precinct Captains. Or Precinct Committeemen, or Precinct Committee officers, what have you. We shall call them PCs, for short. And either shortly before, or shortly after a state primary of preference poll, your dearly beloved local cabal of GOPers will be holding a meeting. At these meetings, by a variety of different processes that vary wildly between states, the delegates will be chosen. That link gives you some idea how complex it can be, but for illustrative purposes we’ll stick with a “basic” state.
These meetings are, of course, announced. Sort of. You will find them on your state GOP calendar for your area (if it’s updated…). And perhaps on a Facebook page nobody knows about. Or buried in legal notices nobody reads, or on your local city website. Or on Craigslist, under “community”….
If you have ever read Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the announcements are about as easy to find as the plans for the freeway bypass that rather inconveniently went through Arthur Dent’s house:
But the plans were on display . . .”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a torch.”
“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard.”
If this gives you the impression your GOP doesn’t want you to know what’s going on, then you’re on the right track. At any rate, the PCs will get together to elect your delegates to that State convention. Any republican can run for a delegate slot, but only PCs that have held their seat for a certain period of time can vote. And as very few new people even know these meetings happen, much less attend them, state delegates are typically GOPers by default.
Other states allow voters to choose delegates by pure vote. Some allow the candidates to choose their delegates, some allow only party members in the highest echelons to choose the delegates. But in the vast majority of states, the PCs play a major role in who becomes a delegate, as they have the inside information and know the process, and frequently control the process. That’s why we focus on them.
Once the delegates are chosen for state, there is typically an application process for national. As an example, here is the link to the AZGOP Delegate Process. Here’s an article that appeared on a local news channel, KVOA that gives some background. As you can see, the AZGOP will select 58 delegates and 55 alternates, out of a pool of 1251 delegates sent by the districts.
When you read the rules on the AZGOP website, you’ll see that the state delegates vote on who goes to Cleveland to represent the State of Arizona. But it isn’t only straight voting. You get extra points if you are a long time republican voter, if you support the candidate who won the PPP, if you volunteer for the party, are a PC, or donate. The more things on that list you do or have done, the more extra points.
So this is essentially a pay for play sport, and the PCs are the gatekeepers. This doesn’t mean you can’t get chosen if you’re “green”–a brand new participant. BUT, if you’re brand new, you’ll have to have a lot of other state delegates from your district ready to vote for you to overcome the inevitable GOPers you’ll be running against. If you look through the list of delegates for 2012 on that website, and Google them, you’ll see very few nobodies.
Delegates, Binding, And The Upcoming Cleveland Circus
How did #LyinTed steal our delegates? SIMPLE. He knew the rules, the voters didn’t. So, when the states held those “public” meetings with the GOPer PCs, the Cruz team sent Cruz voters to run for delegate slots. Trump voters, either through ignorance of the system, or blind faith in the Delegate Fairy, or simply assuming “other people” were already lined up, didn’t seek out these meetings. Inevitably, that means that in all those early states, The delegates are either seasoned GOPers, Cruz supporters, or BOTH. There are bound to be SOME delegates in the pile that will stick with Trump if the convention is contested. But we have no way of knowing how many.
And sadly, that means if we don’t hit 1237+, many of those delegates can defect after the first ballot. Does that mean this race is over? No, not at all. Some of those states have selected their state delegates, but haven’t held their state convention yet. In those states, Trump supporters can hunt down their PC, find out who the delegates are, and hunt down the delegates either before or at the state convention, and find out if they are hard core Trump supporters. If nothing else, this would give us a clearer view of just how many are an issue IF we don’t get 1237+.
Going forward, Hard core Trump supporters have to hunt down the delegate process for their state, and find out if they can still run for a delegate slot. Once that information is obtained, the optimal course of action is:
- Call a meeting of all the Trump voters in your district.
- Find hard core Trump supporters that have long party standing, have volunteered, donate, or are PCs, to capture the most potential brownie points, and ask them to run.
- Hunt down your PC, and tell them to vote for your chosen delegate–and go to the meeting to make sure they actually vote. Try to get them to stand up and verbally endorse your delegate of choice.
- If you have no potential delegates with extra clout, then run yourself, and have others in your district lobby their PCs to vote for you.
- Once you get elected, Meet with all the other delegates elected in your meeting, and make an agreement to stand with Trump past the first ballot, no matter what.
- Then, seek out the delegates from neighboring districts, and do the same. By networking and planning BEFORE the convention, you’ll arrive with a plan in place that gives the best chance of shutting out potential defectors and sending the best hard core people to Cleveland.
If it is past the deadline to run as a delegate in your state, we move on to plan B, which is a two pronged attack, consisting of a social media blitz, and following the plan to hijack the GOP through precinct seats that has been laid out lightly in the post about Precincts and the GOP, and I will get into in more detail in the next post or two.
A Final Tip On Precinct Seats
This link to the Precinct Project has a couple of informational videos, and the main body of the site provides some hard information, though the links on the side are useless. I am working on an updated state list.
While you’re at your meeting, find out who appoints PCs between elections, and ask that person if your precinct has a PC. and if not, tell them you want the job. They will likely ask why you finally decided to get involved. The optimal response is something along these lines:
“After all the GOP has done for me in the past, I decided it’s time to pay the GOP back”.
You can add a few noises about a critical election cycle, etc., etc. But don’t say anything that brands you a reformer or a Trumper. If the seat is taken, ask to meet your PC, and offer to help them out. This will give you valuable intelligence on your local party, a chance to learn the ropes, and if your PC is a GOPer, it also gives you the chance to build a voting block for the next election cycle for the party (which begins right after the general election, when the precincts are redrawn and seats are filled by election).