A Full-On Delegate Revolt in Cleveland Not So Unlikely

I’ve always thought it can happen and now there is more and more evidence that it is in fact possible. The scenario: Republican delegates to the convention in Cleveland are turned loose by the rules committee and flee Donald Trump like he’s the Zika virus. Even Trump himself is trying to get out in front of such a move saying it would be “illegal.”

It seems many Republicans, be they current office holders who fear their own political demise or rank and file delegates who have a moral core saving nothing less than the party itself, are getting ready to move.

Remember, this is a political party not a constitutional construct. A “political party” is a club that can make its own rules or change them along the way. Its convention rules committee can require all its members wear a pink elephant hat when on the floor on the convention if it wants to. It can certainly can release all delegates to vote for whomever they want for their presidential nominee.

Even those who have endorsed Trump indicate they have no problem with people changing horses or backing a non-Trump candidate for the first time. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who is watching his career evaporate before his own eyes, said on Meet the Press this weekend that Republicans should “vote their conscience.”

Chaos at Trump rally.
Chaos at Trump rally.

Ryan and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell both seem to be saying, “Hey folks, I have to back the nominee but you don’t.”

The possible alternatives to Trump at the convention—those who may actually agree to take the nomination—are frightening indeed. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was “first out” of the GOP primary race but is leaving the door open to being drafted at the convention. Newt Gingrich is whacked enough to try it. Rick Perry? He has nothing to lose so there is no career on the line. Mitt Romney? Third time is not the charm. Ted Cruz? Entirely possible. But as Renee wrote in the Boston Globe, “Trump would be a disaster but Cruz would be cataclysmic”—total agreement here. Imagine the Supreme Court nominees he’d come up with.

Then there is the question of a Trump running mate. No one with any future political ambition would even consider it. Perhaps Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina but the chances of Trump running with anyone who would bring anything to the ticket are very slim. One interesting name is Sen. Jeff Sessions who left the door open on CNN’s State of the Union.

So who would stop a delegate revolt at the GOP convention? Anyone of stature won’t stay in the way. Prominent Republicans up for reelection are fearing for their political lives. Republican Party Chair Reince Priebus has gone from “Hey, whatta want from me? I don’t ready care” to “Screw this guy, I’ve had enough.”

I can see it now: the convention rules committee releases all delegates. They choose Scott Walker or the like and all hell breaks loose. Trump simultaneously sues the Republican Party and just-about-openly incites violence. Let’s hope the chair throwing and the fist fights don’t escalate to the point that Clevelanders fear for their safety.