AZGOP Convention Scuttlebutt Part 3

Part Two Here…

The Delegate Side Of The Fence

In between interrogating the party operatives at all levels, I also talked to a large number of miscellaneous delegates from all counties, of course. The delegates were mostly older white people, though about 1/4 to 1/3rd or so were Hispanic (judging by appearance and names), and another 10% or so were minority. The delegate pool was about 60/40 in favor of men, not unusual.

The delegates were also heavily weighted towards the first time crowd–far more than one would have seen at conventions decades ago when I attended them in other states as a guest. I spent a lot of time with newbies, for a reason–they had the least idea what was going on, and they were the most involved and upset people in the room.

I didn’t run into a single “newbie” that was a Cruz or Kasich supporter–they were ALL Trump supporters. My other half in the guest section (and there were about 300 guests) only talked to three Cruz supporters and found no Kasich people at all, the rest were Trump.

Common Delegate Complaints/Views Expressed

By far the most common complaint I heard was that the GOP was “stealing delegates”. Anyone who follows this blog knows that is essentially a false narrative the media and GOP are pushing to try and get people to stage an uprising in Cleveland, so I spent a great deal of time leading people to this blog on their smartphones or tablets, or giving them my business card.

Many also complained about how hard it was to find information on the process to begin with, and confusion on what would happen. I will give Graham his due on this, he DID spend a decent amount of time explaining to people what was going on….But again I spent a lot of time directing people to this blog and giving them my email for specific questions.

The Cruz delegates that I spoke to had very different aims from the Trump delegates–their aim being to get delegate slots by any means, of course.Most of them were long time GOPer voters/operatives who had convention experience, so the Cruz Crew had it easy at our convention–they just took advantage of the natural ignorance and emotion of the Trump supporters.

A lot of Trump delegates, sadly, “outed” themselves at the very beginning by wearing Trump gear, so while I noted names and voted for them and encouraged others to do so, we DID lose a lot of potential votes as the GOPers (and the ground teams) were pushing the “vote the slate” narrative, and making sure that as few identified Trump delegates were on the slate as possible.

The Common Misconceptions

Many delegates believed the canard the AZGOP posted in their emails and on the website about the convention wrapping up by 3:30 or so. I was shocked we were almost wrapped up at 5:30, myself, and I have been to previous conventions where we were still going as late as 10:00 at night, or had to extend to a second day. NEVER TAKE THE PARTY’S TIME ESTIMATIONS AS ACCURATE. If my physical stamina had held out I would have stayed until the very end, and then attempted to arrange a group meet up with people at a nearby burger place after.

because many people had believed the party rah-rah, quite a few delegates signed out after the first ballot, which led to having to credential a few dozen or more alternate delegates, which is NEVER a good thing.

A convention is the single best opportunity anyone has to gather first hand knowledge, experience, intelligence, party contacts, and in some cases make business deals. You WANT the convention to take a reasonable amount of time.

Many were also confused by the inevitable screw ups and inefficiency–especially the old time party operatives, and the rural delegates and operatives. Screw ups are a fact of life at an event like this, but if the AZGOP had just stuck with paper ballots and either didn’t slate at all or let each of us slate ourselves and declare candidate support when we were selected (and printed that on the ballots), it would have been much smoother–and we would have been able to effectively grab EVERY SINGLE SEAT by multi-slating.

Multi-slating, if you can communicate the plan privately to the ground team and other delegates, is the single best strategy to grab every seat in a slated convention setting.

Analysis Of The Ground Game In Mesa–AN INDICTMENT

One of Trump’s strengths is his populist support–in terms of getting the vote. However, it’s a serious weakness when you’re sending a bunch of newbies to a convention, or your ground support is made up of people who don’t communicate the most effective old school strategies to ALL delegates well in advance of the convention. Or ground teams that are not long time involved voters in the party–and former convention participants.

Much of the ground team I met fell in the last category–very little or no prior convention/campaign experience, and effectively none in a heavily contested race. The “big guys” on the ground here weren’t in evidence, either, though they apparently participated in the at large slating.

When you’re dealing with a bunch of nervous angry newbies to politics, the FIRST people you meet at the ground team table should be people who have attended many former conventions, under all circumstances, who are confident, supportive, and friendly. Sadly, I actually heard one ground team member tell a nervous delegate with simple question it wasn’t their job to “hold her hand”, and to “google it”–before shoving a slate into her hand and telling her to just vote the slate and ignore anything else. I immediately introduced myself when she left the table, welcomed her to the process, answered her question and helped her find where she needed to be.

EXCUSE ME, GROUND TEAM PERSON–IT IS YOUR JOB. 

Had the rules allowed the experienced ground team members to address the convention, or those people had been out in the delegate pool coordinating, things would have gone far better in terms of final delegate results. JUST HANDING SOMEONE PAPER AFTER PAPER AND TELLING THEM TO VOTE THE SLATE AND DON’T GET CONFUSED OR LISTEN TO ANYONE ELSE IS NOT PRODUCTIVE.

If how our convention was handled by the ground team is ANY indication of conventions elsewhere, it’s little wonder we’re having delegate issues. I spoke to almost every ground team member I could find at one point or another, and well over half had ZERO convention experience. And sadly, quite a few had what could be called “attitude” as well–while under normal circumstances, nailing your flag to the mast and being loudly defiant may work to some extent, it’s a miserable excuse for a strategy in the current situation.

Being curt, confrontational, overbearing or condescending isn’t productive either. When you hear other Trump supporters in the bathroom expressing confusion, hurt and anger because THE CANDIDATE’S GROUND TEAM MEMBERS ARE “BITCHES” OR “ASSHOLES”, YOU HAVE A REAL PROBLEM.

I’ll be the first to admit that after you have to reassure your 30th or 40th person on the very same issue as the last 30 or 40 people, or answer the same basic Politics 101 question for the 20th time in 2 hours, it’s a little bit wearing. Had I been able to find a quiet corner during lunch and round up a large number of people, I would have tabled my own damned meeting and given everyone a pep talk, some support, and allayed fears and confusion.

AND I AM NOT EVEN AN OFFICIAL CAMPAIGN WORKER. But I couldn’t find that quiet corner, and when I did suggest that to three different ground team members, they basically patted me on the head and brushed me off. I don’t know where the campaign found these yo-yo’s–but Trump was poorly served, at least in my part of the convention. I didn’t talk to every ground team member–but I did talk to a majority, as did my other half (who wasn’t impressed either, and he is not politically active).

This game has rules that most people don’t understand. It also is a very different experience to convention with all or majority newbies rather than seasoned operatives and involved party members.

PAY ATTENTION TO THIS:

WE ARE IN A SERIOUS FIGHT HERE. If you have a convention coming and are listed as a delegate, DO NOT OUT YOURSELF.

WEAR STICKERS FROM EVERY CANDIDATE IN THE RACE–or only local candidate stickers like your Senate/House contenders.

TALK TO THOSE AROUND YOU AND STUMP FOR VOTES USING GOPER BUZZWORDS.

IF SLATING HAPPENS, DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO GET SLATED FOR EVERY CANDIDATE AND THE UNITY SLATE, AND QUIETLY LET THE TRUMP TEAM AND OTHER TRUMP SUPPORTERS KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING SO THEY VOTE FOR YOU.

Any seasoned campaigner will tell you the single most important thing to do is make sure you get the votes, and the delegate slot. “Voting the slate” is ONLY a good idea IF YOU KNOW EVERYONE ON IT. In THIS game, you’re essentially playing “Liar’s Poker”. Slates can change dozens of times between the first and the moment you mark the ballot, as different party operatives work behind the scenes to get an advantage.

If your convention rules allow you to speak to your district and directly stump, QUIETLY, BEFORE YOU SPEAK, LET KEY TRUMP TEAM MEMBERS OR OTHER DELEGATES KNOW YOU WILL BE SPEAKING GOPER. If the rules don’t allow a speech, it’s up to you to introduce yourself to as many people as possible in your congressional district before the convention starts, and during it before the voting.YOU NEED TO SELL YOURSELF AS A DELEGATE. 

Had I been more focused on actually going to Cleveland as a delegate than building a ground network in AZ, I WOULD have gotten chosen by any means possible–because I KNOW THE RULES. But right now, we all need to also start focusing on building state networks so we can co-opt the GOP and give it to Trump when he gets elected.

I’m sorry if my bald assessment of the ground team in Mesa offends some people. But I feel it is perfectly in order, considering my first hand experience, and the importance of upcoming conventions. I also took the time to write an email to the Trump campaign stating basically what I wrote above, and telling them politely that this is an issue that needs addressing–not the least of which because after Trump wins the nomination, his supporters will be needed to campaign during the run up to the general election. And more than a few of the Trump supporters I met, like myself, had been volunteering on the phone banks and using social media to do what they can for Trump–and were somewhat regretting doing so after yesterday.

More scuttlebutt and a final takeaway to follow, next….

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AZGOP Mesa Convention Scuttlebutt Part 2

Part 1–some background color

The other half took the time to talk to sheriff Babaeu and Kelli Ward first, as I had assigned him the “local candidate” tables primarily. I did that as he doesn’t have my experience level at observation, nor can he retain as many factoids as I can without taking notes. Since I also had obligations at the convention and he didn’t it made the most sense.

At the Sheriff’s table, the general atmosphere was one of gratitude for Babaeu’s speaking out on the illegal issue, and expressions from people in Pima and other counties that wished their sheriffs were more like him.

At Kelli Ward’s table, people were thanking her for running against Mc Cain–some of the names my other half recorded in his notes were : Mc Shame, Mc Slime, The Carpetbagger, Mc Fraud, and Mc Asshat. The sentiment level he recorded trended towards unqualified support for Kelli because of her personal voting record at state level, though he did note that about 1/4 of the people who signed her petition slate were in the #anyonebutmccain category, with a little over 1 in 10 not even bothering to find out her positions, just signing her petition to primary John. Both of us heard at least several dozen people stating if Kelli lost the primary against Mc Cain, they WILL vote for Kirkpatrick (the Democrat) to get rid of him anyway–talk the AZGOP is completely ignoring, or joking about (at least publicly).

The GOPer Insider View On MC Cain

Interestingly enough, the scuttlebutt among the actual party operatives was still trending towards what I heard directly from one at my GOPer meeting in Tucson–that Kelli has “peaked”, and Mc Cain is getting a last term before they “transition to his replacement smoothly”. This was confirmed in different ways in several dozen conversations with operatives from all counties and all levels of the party. Many of them expressed dissatisfaction with MC Cain, but still stuck with the party line on the issue.

The overall opinion of Mc Cain is that he’s no “war hero”, and even if he were, that’s ancient history BTW. I heard over a dozen jokes and quips about how the vets and servicemen and women would REALLY feel if they knew just how little Mc Cain does for the military in actuality.He’s seen as an average Senator whose pork deliveries to our state have been slacking off a little too much in the last decade or so. The AZGOP is apparently now looking at and grooming Flake to up the pork level we get, and to be more proactive in the nest few years leading to his run for a second term.

There was also mention of Mc Cain’s son’s steady progress toward his Senate seat….

The GOPer To Do List, Flake, And Maricopa County

I overheard several gentlemen discussing a “To-Do” list for Flake while they were in a side room setting up things for the electronic voting–more technically supervising the staff doing the set up. Some of the items I heard mentioned included the new light rail/street car project in Tempe should lead to some “revitalization” money for certain enterprise zones, selling off some more land that one Indian tribe or another will likely declare is “sacred”, and some improvements and upgrades to Maricopa County services.

It’s interesting to note that all the pork talk I heard going on here and there as part of To Do lists for Mc Cain and Flake only involved money for Maricopa County in any large amount. Some guests from Graham County Yavapai Countyand Gila County were trying to get attention paid to some projects they wanted funded–small potatoes in both cases, under 10 million dollars–and were getting glad handed, given business cards, and moved on their merry way.

I saw no indication at all that the AZGOP realizes how disenfranchised the rural counties are feeling these days, and how high the resentment level is in outlying areas against the main party. This will work to our advantage if Arizonans in rural counties will actually GET ACTIVE IN THEIR LOCAL COUNTY GOPS.

But the main takeaway is that the AZGOP is confident their activities against Kelli Ward and in favor of Mc Cain will work.

The reasoning is important here–they are relying on the precinct level operatives to get out the vote against Kelli in our primary. While nobody flat out stated that the AZGOP was deliberately stumping for Mc Cain and suppressing Ward, the “you know how the game is played” comment was common. I was able to capitalize on my family’s long history in Massachusetts and national politics by trotting out some juicy (verifiable) family anecdotes about a famous relative’s “Presidential Walk” several decades ago. They aren’t public knowledge, but easy to check out if you have political connections.

And NO–we are NOT Kennedys! My ancestors go back to the Mayflower and the Boston Brahmin half of the family tree is tied up in the famous poem:

And this is good old Boston,

The home of the bean and the cod,

Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots,

And the Cabots talk only to God.

I stay as far away from my Brahmin relatives as humanly possible–but occasionally their antics come in very handy LOL.

Part three coming up…