The Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month is shaping up to be a complete disaster, with hundreds of delegates in revolt and many prominent members of the GOP forgoing the event entirely. In fact, so few people want to speak that Donald Trump said earlier this month he is considering instituting a “Winners’ Night,” for sports stars.
On Friday, Beau Correll, a delegate from Virginia, filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the state’s 49 Republican and 110 Democratic delegates, challenging a law that mandates, “Delegates and alternates shall be bound to vote on the first ballot at the national convention for the candidate receiving the most votes in the primary unless that candidate releases those delegates and alternates from such vote.” Correll’s complaint alleges that the First Amendment protects delegates “right to vote their conscience, free from government compulsion, when participating in the selection of their party’s presidential nominee.”
Anti-Trump delegates are also trying to take over the powerful Rules Committee so as to be able to block Trump’s nomination. (An unlikely proposition.) Meanwhile, Politico contacted 50 governors, senators, and House representatives to ask whether they would be speaking at the convention.
“I am not attending,” said South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, who is overseeing the high-profile congressional Republican investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of the attacks on Benghazi. Gowdy, who said he was taking his family to the beach instead, hasn’t gone to conventions in the past and didn’t plan to now. “I’m not,” said South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, a former two-term governor. “But hope you have a good Thursday!” “Don’t know,” said Sean Duffy, a reality TV star-turned-Wisconsin congressman, “I haven’t thought about it.” Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo: “I won’t be there.”
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte “is not attending the convention,” said a spokeswoman. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner “is not attending the convention,” his office said. A spokesman for South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham: “He announced back in May he’s not attending.” For South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley: “The governor has not been asked to speak at the convention and has no plans to.” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn: “There are no plans for him to speak.”
House members often have to scrap to get national attention — and eagerly take whatever they can get. But taking the podium in Cleveland? No thanks.
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a rising star who helped to write the GOP platform at the 2012 convention, “will be in her district working for her constituents and not attending the convention,” said a spokesman. Oklahoma Rep. Steve Russell, a former Army lieutenant colonel who helped capture Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, “has no plans to be a speaker at the convention,” said his office. North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson, who’s frequently talked about as a potential future statewide candidate, “won’t be at the convention.” Mia Love, the charismatic Utah rep seen by many as the GOP’s future, is skipping Cleveland for a trip to Israel. “I don’t see any upsides to it,” Love told a reporter on Friday. “I don’t see how this benefits the state.”
On Friday, Cleveland officials reached an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio on a “much smaller” event zone around the convention than had been previously planned for, Cleveland.com reports. There will of course be an area for food trucks.