Arrival: 7:30 a.m.
After staying in a local Mesa hotel at 50% off (courtesy of the AZGOP) I arrived at the Convention Center promptly at 7:30 a.m. for credentialing. As a delegate from Congressional District 3, Legislative District 3, Pima County, I presented my voter registration card and picture ID, signed in and got the first ballot of the day (and my 10.00 lunch voucher). Our section was in the very front, and I took a seat in the 2nd row knowing full well the unwritten rules governing seating at conventions. I wanted to be among the higher ups to listen for valuable information, and along the way I hooked up with a Trump ground team member and some of my fellow 3,3 delegates.
We were given the “Trump Slate” by a representative and told to “just vote the slate, and don’t listen to anyone”. The problem inherent in this instruction became rather evident, in short order, as there were few names on the slate I could personally identify as vetted (by ME) Trump supporters–not to mention when we read the rules for this convention we discovered that the AZGOP had decided not to allow delegate candidates to speak for even three minutes each in our caucuses or canvas for votes for the at-large selection later in the day. The reason given was “time constraints due to an usually high number of delegate candidates”.
The Greatest GOPer Show On Earth Begins:
For those unfamiliar with this form of political theater, some background is in order. All the candidates of any type have table sat up and are passing out bumper stickers, signs, and information. The higher echelon party members have the fanciest name tags and are the most dressed up–in AZ’s case, big brushed gold badges in the shape of the state. Next are standard plastic name tags coupled with more casual attire, then simple lanyards with your delegate voting credential card. Typically, the groups will tend to separate while people are getting settled, but as I dragged some of my fellow 3,3’s to the front of our section, we got in among the intermediate name tags and a handful of “gold tags”.
The Convention opened with a dual invocation–the first gentleman giving a Hebrew Prayer for peace (properly sung with beautiful pronunciation, followed by the English translation), then an invocation by a middle of the road Christian. A trumpter/bugler then played the Stars Spangled Banner (we sang), and some children recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and the preamble to the Constitution. The Party head’s daughter Faith Graham did a Kid’s News report showing how uninformed the average voter attending the state fair is, accompanied by a well stated plea for us to elect the right people “for the kids, who do care”.
Robert Graham, Head GOPer, gave a rah-rah speech, and explained the basic process, then it was hurry up–and wait. And wait some more, while the credentialing team made sure we had a quorum. Graham turned the floor over to a professional parliamentarian, causing a minor ruckus as people pointed out “the rules” shouldn’t allow that, and the point was not well taken.
The First Vote:
The Trump slate was updated twice while we were waiting, then we went to cast our paper ballots–one for delegates, one for party chair people for Cleveland. Bruce Ash was running unopposed, with three women vying for the chairwoman slot–so that contest ended in a run off. As we had no opportunity to talk to anyone except fot one gentleman who introduced himself to all of us in 3,3, (Thank you Mr. Ortiz, Sr.!), I had to rely on my notes from the meeting where we all got picked to go to Mesa. On that first ballot, out of the 6 of us 4 were know Trump supporters in my area, two weren’t.
HOW these people got slated will be in Post 2, as it was a very odd series of events all the way around. By now it was lunch time, and long lines formed at the food trucks in the 90 degree cloudy weather, and after eating people were making the rounds of the local candidates’ tables. I disposed of my trash and began making connections, starting with the gold badges and working my way down the line.
I began the day with about 150 business cards, and bought home less than 10, so a decent day–the type of networking that I did and others were doing will also be in the second post. When we went back in, we found we had a run off to deal with when it came to our chair women for Cleveland, and we had to go back out for the 2nd credentialing. The voting process is extremely tightly controlled, as you have to re-credential and get your badge initialed to participate in the second vote. And it was on the second vote of the day things got interesting in GOPerland.
So They Misplaced My Entire Group–Things Happen LOL.
Everyone was outside at once, and it was badly controlled mayhem. The Cruz ground team had their second slates already to go, and I grabbed one (to insure I wouldn’t accidentally vote for a Cruz supporter). And Lo and Behold–no sign for 3,3. So we were milling around, and half of the other delegates couldn’t find their credential people either. According to my local chairman, they accidentally left him off the voting lists in the January meeting–they seem to always mess up something about my district *sigh*.
After almost twenty minutes, we were directed back inside, and finally got some spare paper ballots for the second vote and the runoff–plus a sealed plain envelope, with a slip of paper in it. When everyone was finally back in the main hall, we were then directed to pass the paper ballots to the center of our rows–as we would be voting electronically. At that point, we STILL didn’t have an at-large Trump delegate slate in hand.