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Delegates resign after Trump locks it up

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Two of Arizona’s delegates to the Republican National Convention resigned their positions, saying they refused to go to Cleveland to vote for Donald Trump.

And a handful of others were elected as delegates at a fractious Arizona Republican Party convention, only to step down after determining that they just had other things to do that week.

Nine of the 58 Arizona delegates to the July 18-21 GOP convention in Cleveland have resigned, including some of Arizona’s top elected officials.

Maricopa County Supervisor Denny Barney, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, state Treasurer Jeff DeWit and Secretary of State Michele Reagan have all stepped aside, as has former California Congressman Frank Riggs, former Arizona Congressman John Shadegg, Yuma Republican Paul Marchant and Phyllis Ritter, a delegate elected from the 1st Congressional District. Zuhdi Jasser, a doctor and Muslim reform advocate, resigned after learning that he’d be bumped up from an alternate to a voting delegate.

DeWit is the Arizona chairman for Trump’s campaign, and Ritter was elected as a delegate on the developer’s slate as well. But the other resigned delegates largely ran on the slates for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who, at the time of the state convention, were holding out hope that they could wrest the nomination from Trump in Cleveland.

Two of the delegates who resigned – Jasser and Riggs – explicitly said they did so out of opposition to Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

Riggs said his primary reason for stepping aside was because he needs to help his wife, Cathy, with her campaign for justice of the peace. The convention comes shortly before early ballots go out, and Riggs said he’s his wife’s “number one volunteer.”

But a major contributing factor to the decision, he said, was his opposition to Trump.

“I have very serious reservations about Donald Trump as the Republican Party nominee, and just frankly after some soul searching realized that I couldn’t go to Cleveland in good conscience and vote for his nomination,” said Riggs, who ran for a delegate position on the unified Cruz-Kasich slate. “I just can’t. I guess if there are political consequences, I’ll face those down.”

Despite the need to stay in town for his wife’s campaign, Riggs said he agreed to run for a delegate spot on the Cruz slate because there was still a chance at the time that the Texas senator could win the nomination at a contested convention. But now that Trump is unopposed and has reached the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination, that possibility is gone.

If Trump and Cruz were still heading into a contested national convention, Riggs said it’s likely that he would’ve taken a few days off from the campaign trail to go to Cleveland.

“I think I would have felt an obligation to go under those circumstances, although honestly I probably would have tried to get in and out and spend as little time there as possible,” he said.

‘Daily embarrassment to conservatism’

Jasser, too, said he couldn’t bring himself to vote for Trump. He said he was willing to go to Cleveland and cast his first vote for Trump, as Arizona law requires, as long as he didn’t have the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. But with the race over, he decided to take a pass.

“I cannot at the altar of our party lend my name to the daily embarrassment to conservatism that Mr. Trump represents,” Jasser wrote in a resignation letter to party officials. “I have supported many GOP candidates over the years with whom I differed on certain very important issues, but never has a GOP candidate in my recollection fallen almost every day so far below the bar of what I can explain and take ownership for with myself and my family and my public integrity.”

The Phoenix doctor has a unique vantage point. He said his primary opposition to Trump is as a conservative Republican, and in that regard, he has many of the same criticisms as the presumptive nominee’s other GOP critics.

But Jasser is also a Muslim, a demographic that Trump has antagonized throughout his campaign, calling for a temporary halt to all Muslim immigration to the United States and claiming that crowds of Muslims cheered after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack in New York.

Jasser is a hardliner against ISIS, Islamic extremism, terrorism and the embattled regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, from which his family fled in the 1960s. Like Trump, he criticizes President Obama for his refusal to use the term “radical Islamists.” And he said he believes the U.S. should temporarily halt all immigration until it can implement a vetting process that would more effectively weed out jihadists and Islamic extremists.

However, Jasser said he has a problem with Trump’s demonization of Muslims in general and his call to temporarily halt immigration specifically of Muslims. Jasser said he ultimately wants to see the U.S. welcome many more refugees from war-torn Syria.

“The inability of a presidential candidate who has one of the largest platforms on the planet to thread the needle between identifying Islamism, the theocratic ideology of political Islam, as a threat, and Muslims and Islam coming to terms with modernity as a solution, is beyond a liability,” he said.

Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration plays into ISIS’s hands, Jasser said.

“It’s a bit nativist, not to mention strategically a candidate running for office should be able to telegraph that if the solution to political Islam is Muslims that embrace religious liberty, then you can’t surrender that idea to ISIS, which is what he did by saying that we’re going to ban immigration of Muslims without being able to parse through identifying Islamists as the problem,” he said.

Jasser, a Marco Rubio supporter who switched to Cruz when the U.S. senator from Florida dropped out of the race, said he would have voted for any of the other 16 candidates who sought the Republican nomination. But he won’t vote for Trump, nor will he vote for a Democrat. Jasser said he’ll either leave the presidential race blank on his ballot or vote for a third-party candidate.

Family commitments

The Arizona GOP’s April 30 convention in Mesa was a hotly contested affair. The Cruz and Trump campaigns, and to a lesser degree, Kasich’s team, hustled to elect delegates who would support their candidates if a contested national convention went to a second ballot or beyond, where anti-Trump forces hoped to wrest the nomination from the controversial real estate mogul.

A joint slate by Cruz and Kasich’s teams prevailed, winning at least 39 of the 55 delegate spots that were up for grabs. But that victory only mattered for less than a week. Three days after the Mesa convention, Trump won Indiana’s GOP primary, prompting Cruz and Kasich to drop out of the race.

Two of the delegates who withdrew  as delegates said their decisions had nothing to do with any opposition to Trump. But they suggested that their primary interest in going to Cleveland was to attempt to block him on a second ballot.

Shadegg, who represented the north Phoenix area in Congress for 16 years, said he’s been to many conventions, and decided that it would be better to give his delegate spot to a party worker who hasn’t had the privilege of attending before.

But Shadegg, a Rubio supporter who ran on the Cruz-Kasich unified slate at the Arizona GOP state convention, acknowledged that it was the now-irrelevant delegate fight got him into the race in the first place.

“Delegate spots were hot and heavy at the time. And I was asked to run and I said, ‘Sure,’ as a favor to some people involved in the process. But that’s no longer kind of an issue,” he said.

Barney’s resignation as a delegate was a result of family commitments, said his campaign consultant, Chad Heywood.

“He originally could only go for two nights to begin with. And then he’s got a son going on a mission this summer and a kid’s volleyball tournament. He just thought it would be better to let someone who had the whole week attend,” Heywood said.

But Heywood, too, noted that there’s less of a point to going to Cleveland now that the nomination fight is over. Barney ran on the Cruz and Kasich slates, along with the “unity slate,” a ticket comprised of supporters of all three candidates that the Arizona Republican Party put together for the state convention.

“Now that the nomination is clinched, he felt like it would be better from a family perspective and just kind of an impact perspective to give that position to someone who was really wanting to go and could stay the whole week,” Heywood said.

A spokesman for Brnovich said the attorney general also had commitments he had to take care of in Arizona during the convention and wasn’t going to be able to attend the entire event, so he felt that a grassroots volunteer should take his place.

“(He) wasn’t going to be able to attend Convention for duration and wanted a grassroots volunteer to attend in his place,” Brnovich spokesman Ryan Anderson said in an email to the Arizona Capitol Times. “Too many things going on around the Convention and he is choosing to spend time with his family instead.”

Matt Roberts, a spokesman for Reagan, said she, too, had professional responsibilities she needed to focus on, specifically the preparation for Arizona’s Aug. 30 primary election.

“At this time, she feels the convention would be a distraction from her focus on the August primary,” Roberts said.

Neither Brnovich nor Reagan resigned as delegates out of any opposition to Trump, their spokesmen said. Both ran for delegate positions on all four slates at the state convention – Cruz, Kasich, Trump and unity. They were the top two vote-getters in the delegate contest at the state convention.

Constantin Querard, a Republican consultant who led Cruz’s efforts at the state convention, said his understanding is that Marchant, a supporter of the Texas senator, had a timing conflict with a family event.

Resignations not a problem

Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham said he doesn’t view a small number of resignations as a problem, even with a couple delegates saying they refuse to support the presumptive nominee. He said Republicans are coalescing around Trump and that there are “many more people doing that than people who are naysayers.”

“People are passionate and engaged. So if they don’t want to support Donald Trump, that’s their prerogative. And I support a person’s individual position on candidates. However … we will have a full delegation going into this event, and I have no concerns about it whatsoever,” Graham said.

Other party insiders, however, said the number of resignations, as well as the overt refusal by two delegates to vote for the Republican nominee, is highly unusual.

Some longtime party operatives say they’ve never heard of a delegate resigning in opposition to the nominee. Furthermore, they found it strange that such high-level elected officials were resigning those positions.

Lobbyist Kurt Davis, a fixture in Arizona’s Republican political scene since the 1980s, said he thinks it may have happened before, possibly in 1988 or 1996. Nonetheless, he said he can’t remember so many delegate resignations since at least the 1980 convention.

“Those numbers are definitely higher than the typical,” Davis said. “It has happened. But that’s clearly more than I would ever recall.”

DeWit, a prominent Trump surrogate who speaks frequently on cable news programs in defense of the candidate, said he stepped down from his position as a delegate from the 8th Congressional District in order to open up spots for two others. His resignation allowed state Rep. Phil Lovas, the first alternate elected from CD8, to take a spot as a voting delegate. And Lovas’ elevation allowed Barbara Wyllie, whom DeWit called “one of the strongest Trump supporters in the state,” to take the Peoria lawmaker’s alternate spot.

The treasurer said he’ll still attend the convention, and expects to have some kind of role with the Trump campaign in Cleveland.

“If this was going to be a contested convention, maybe we’d analyze it differently, but once Ted Cruz dropped out, it’s a moot point. So it’s better for me to be helping with the campaign and take care of two really good Trump supporters,” he said. “I’m a worker. I’ll be doing something. I’m the kind of guy who has no problem being in a high-level meeting or taking out the trash.”

For the most part, DeWit took the delegates who said they weren’t resigning because of Trump at their word. But he said it’s a common trait of people in politics to not disclose their real motivations for doing things.

DeWit said he isn’t surprised that delegates are dropping out. Many of the pro-Cruz delegates were only interested in going to the convention – and spending $5,000 to do so – when they thought there was a chance of a brokered convention, and DeWit said he predicted that some would back away once that possibility evaporated.

Trump delegates side

9 comments

  1. Thank you AZ Republicans for outing yourselves. Your AZ Republican voters look forward to removing any Republican that does not support our next POTUS Donald J. Trump. Join the Trump train or get run over you sellout scumbags.

  2. Just saw Dr. Jasser last night on NewsMax saying different thingsabout Trump. OK Doc.You really want Hillary? Give me a break. Either get on the Trump train or shut the hell up. All you so called “conservatives” have give us open borders, illegal aliens rammed down our throats, national debt that is unbelievable, and you want us to vote for Hillary? Liberals & conservatives have gotten us in this mess. I want a pragmatist that actually has built a wall, made money, been in the real world trying to work through regulations & permits that
    the professional political class & donor class have foisted upon us. GO TRUMP! How about we think of OUR citizens and OUR country first. Don’t hear that from anyone but TRUMP! The UNIPARTY isn’t going down easily but there are more of us than there are of you.

  3. The people have chosen a candidate. Why are our delegates unwilling to support our decision. IS this not the country of the people? How things have changed!!!

  4. Thank you for the information on the names of those who won’t support Trump. Specially those who are running for office for the first time, And those seeking another term. Re-evaluations are priceless.

  5. idiot purist Conservatives are going to get bill’s wife elected

  6. Gee Dr. Jasser…from one Republican to another…I have 45 years on this bronc, and I know how to ride it. It sometimes stinks. So I will speak plainly to you as one GOP person to another in plain Libertarian-ish language…just to capture the concepts, because I am not exactly one of those impractical libertarians Here it is…..Dr. Jasser..What a great idea. Serve up a word salad and be a quitter, rather than seek dialogue with the candidate, knowing that your chances are good to get an audience with him. That’s really going to ring convincing to followers/listeners, fans, etc., those who want to know why they are hearing “crickets” from American Muslim civic leaders. (couldn’t care less really about clerics).

    If you want to know how most Americans actually feel about their own religion and everybody else’s, truthfully it isn’t all that different than how we feel about the top drawer of a nightstand. I will stay out of yours, and you stay out of mine. If there’s something in there you want to hang out on a flag pole, fine. Just keep it off my flag pole. No one cares about “threading needles” and platforms. We don’t even care about “modernity” if for some reason the 7th century is a rush for some folks. The thing is, keep it unobtrusive, keep it on a leash so that it doesn’t pee on my roses. If Islam can do that in America, no sweat. If it can’t, it cannot be among us, because it is then anathema to basic allegiance to the sovereign state and the Union of States. We don’t have Jewish worries, Hindu worries, Shinto worries, Christian worries, (okay there we do have a few kooks, touche) We will not accept Islam’s worries as a disproportionate and prominent feature of our culture in our own back yard. This is how we solved the religious bloodbaths of 16th century Europe, and we will not suffer any religious bloodbaths here. That’s what Trump is saying and he doesn’t really give a **** if “Muslims” or “Islamists” are too thin skinned to hear it. It’s not about helping or hindering Muslims to “come to terms” with modernity. That’s their problem. Frankly, so is ISIS. If Muslims are living in fear of ISIS, it’s preferable to the citizens of this nation that they take their fear somewhere else. Natural born American citizens who are Muslim are not and never have been something I want to think and hear about every day. Their problems have nothing to do with me.

    I am completely devoted to Jesus Christ, and here’s my religion: he made the ultimate sacrifice as a ransom for my life to satisfy justice, so that I could enjoy grace and the abundant life without limit. He loves you. Take it or leave it. That’s it. I gave you the good news, there isn’t anything else to give without being asked. Americans, regardless of what their feckless government does, want to be left alone to live in freedom, and only put upon to fulfill social, economic and political duties. Acts of love and charity are totally voluntary without being shamed or coerced. That’s why we don’t want to get embroiled inside, outside or even as a spectator of Islam’s sectarian challenges, and we don’t want neighbors whose allegiance to Islamism interferes with their allegiance to the United States. Forget this **** about threading needles, or if you can’t, take it to NYC and share it with Trump and explain your word salad to him. Then go on Fox and explain it to us. They pay well. Tell us once again, why we should reject Donald Trump to please Muslims even if they are citizens and natives. I can’t wait to hear this. I think you mean well, but I don’t think you have thought this through. Trump did American Muslims a favor by forming words that crystallize broad American sentiment on this topic. That’s courage. Courage is only required when things are messy. If the Muslim community wants solidarity with neighbors to address terrorism, then dismissing the GOP nominee without a dialogue is a problem. He didn’t dismiss you, did he?

    I’ve read the quotes of you Dr. Jasser, over three times. These are garden path sentences, sound needlessly over-intellectualized, and seem more purposed to impress rather than solve. I’d like to point out that Islamism is abusing American religious liberty with the help of “moderate” apologists, including the American left and American Muslims; especially lawyers. This liberty never in history of mankind extended to practices that abridge or destroy the rights of others, including those of lesser status in power. Trump has every right to be safeguarding the public liberty, both to preserve it, and keep it from being abused, and the reason is, all Americans have the same duty. Including you. That puts you already on Trump’s side, even if you want to disingenuously (as a Democratic might) call this duty “nativism”.

  7. All of you trump supporters, think hes going to be better than hillary, think hes actually going to keep a single promise that doesnt enlarge his bank account, think that he isnt the most embarrasing gop candidate to date…

    You were warned. Enjoy lying in that bed you made for the rest of us.

  8. I am very happy that you losers have resigned. You don’t belong here. And when I say “here” I mean the United States of America. I don’t care if you have been here forever or just got here. Either respect and accept our constitution and laws and rules or get the hell out.

  9. azcapitoltimes why are you afraid of letting matter comment

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