Dump Trump? MI GOP delegates divided heading into convention

Posted at 5:49 PM, Jul 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-12 17:50:24-04

The Republican National Convention is scheduled July 18-21 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Look for live coverage from Cleveland beginning next week from FOX 17 political reporter Josh Sidorowicz 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The stage is set for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next week, but not every Michigan delegate is sold on the party's presumptive nominee Donald Trump.

Donald Trump won enough delegates to clinch the party nomination but some in the GOP are searching for loopholes and calling for rule changes ahead of the GOP's grand old party to circumvent the billionaire businessman from getting on the ticket.

National delegates will arrive in Cleveland this week for Rules Committee meetings before the convention begins Monday to consider proposals.

"We’re faced with what feels like a no-win situation if we go forward with Hillary and Donald Trump," said Wendy Day, who previously worked the campaign for Trump's rival Ted Cruz, and is headed to the convention as a Cruz delegate.

“There’s a lot of concern among, not only the delegates and party members but among the people who are looking at the few choices in November and they’re not really happy either one of them."

Day is now leading the charge in Michigan to urge delegates to "vote their conscience" if they do not support Trump. She wants to see changes to the convention rules to allow all delegates to be unbound on the first round of voting, even Trump delegates.

"We’re not looking to disenfranchise anybody, but we are looking to what’s best for our country, even if it makes a few people mad. Frankly that’s the question before us and it’s not an easy one.”

59 delegates from Michigan will attend the Republican National Convention. Of those delegates—awarded to candidates based on the results of the state's March 8 primary—25 are bound to vote for Trump during the first round of voting, while the 17 delegates each awarded to Ted Cruz and Kasich are unbound.

John Inhulsen, chairman of the Kent County GOP and a Kasich delegate, said he's going into the convention undecided but with an open mind.

“I believe that Donald Trump is our presumptive nominee, but that’s not the same thing as being the nominee," Inhulsen said. “At this point, I’m not part of anybody’s ‘never-anybody campaign,’ I believe in a more positive approach."

While uncommitted to Trump, Inhulsen said any attempt to change the rules of the convention now would be disingenuous to voters.

“If you’re going under the auspicious of being a Trump delegate, I expect you’re going to vote for Trump, otherwise I think you would be dealing with disenfranchisement issues," he told FOX 17.

“I don’t think that’d be appropriate given we had a primary election in Michigan, but if you get to a second ballot, I think it’s going to look like the wild west.”

Trump strongholds, like Diane Schindlbeck, a Trump delegate, said the real estate mogul's decisive primary victories speak for themselves. She told FOX 17 it's a waste of time to assume anyone other than Trump will wind up the Republican nominee.

"All of a sudden when it’s not their nominee of choice, they don’t want to get behind and unite, but we as delegates we are here for the people," Schindlbeck said. “I think we would be doing an injustice to the American voter if we did not speak their word and who they chose.”

Efforts to derail the presumptive nominee worry Inhulsen, who says failure to unite the party could result in missing opportunities to impact the long-term makeup of power on the U.S. Supreme Court, where a vacancy left by the death of conservative Antonin Scalia remains unfilled.

"The social dynamics of the country are very much governed by some of these key decisions on cases from the Supreme Court," he said, adding he also expected one or two justices are likely nearing retirement and will need to be replaced during the next administration.

"I’m hopeful we come out of [the convention] a united party... because this country is in trouble and four to eight years of an extension of Obama policies, in addition to those Supreme Court picks, could change the course of history for several generations.”