Arizona Republican delegation set to pick Trump as presidential nominee

Posted at 6:07 PM, Jul 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-16 21:07:34-04

The Arizona Republican Party's delegates to the national convention are heading to Cleveland knowing their chairman won't back any Dump Trump talk.

Party Chairman Robert Graham has already removed one of the state's 58 delegates because she refused to vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot, as required under state law and party rules. Delegate Lori Hack says she'll go anyway and try to be credentialed, but Graham says she's already been replaced on the delegate list and her efforts will be a waste of time.

On Friday, Hack said Graham was unsuccessful in revoking her credentials, but Graham disputed that and said she was out.

"She is not a delegate, she will not be credentialed," Graham said. "She is consistency stirring the pot with news outlets without any basis in fact."

Former presidential candidate Ted Cruz won a large majority of delegates chosen at April's state party convention, although the win was mainly symbolic because Trump won the state's March primary and a required first-ballot vote from the delegates. Cruz dropped out shortly thereafter.

Hack called Trump a "Democrat" and "liberal progressive" and said she's refusing to vote for him at the convention that begins Monday.

Graham said in a midweek interview from Cleveland that now that top party leaders including party Chairman Reince Priebus are gathering, the anti-Trump talk has calmed considerably.

"Everybody's sentiment now is we're 100 percent behind the nominee, Donald Trump," Graham said. "I think they're sorry that their people lost, and they need to step out of the way of the 13 million voters that voted for Donald Trump," he said of Trump opponents.

Still, a floor fight by anti-Trump forces over convention rules is "for sure," Graham said, while noting that Arizona rules committee members were solidly backing Trump and noting he thought a successful challenge wasn't in the cards. The party Rules Committee soundly rejected efforts Thursday to allow delegates to vote for anyone regardless of earlier rules binding them to state primary winners, but anti-Trump delegates are pledging a floor fight on the matter.

Priebus declared on Friday that the anti-Trump effort was dead,

Jeff DeWit, the state treasurer who chaired Trump's primary effort in Arizona since last summer, said opponents like Hack need to uphold the values they expect elected officials to back.

"I think she's very misguided, and I know she's a good conservative who always wants the people that she elects to uphold their responsibilities and live by the letter of the law," he said in an interview. "And now that she's been elected, Arizona wants her to hold herself to the same standard and vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot - that's part of the deal."

Hack called the Arizona law requiring delegates to back the candidate who won the most primary votes illegal, and she said Graham could not require delegates to pledge to back the winner.

"And No. 3, as Donald has continued to reveal himself he's unfit for the presidency," she said. "I would say he's not a Republican. He's a Democrat, he's a progressive liberal."

But among other Cruz backers, the sense was that Trump won and there's not much else to do but head to Cleveland and make him the official Republican presidential nominee.

"I don't see that there's going to be any other nominee besides Donald Trump -- no organization has contacted me with any alternative," said state Sen. Debbie Lesko, a convention delegate. "If there's some organization out there, I haven't heard about it and that means they're not very organized. We're all going to vote for Donald Trump -- I don't think there's going to be an alternative."

For Graham, the convention and his success or failure in holding off anti-Trump forces is seen as part of his potential run to replace Priebus as chairman of the Republican National Committee. Graham is considering a run, but real debate over Priebus' replacement won't begin until after the November election and a vote won't occur until early next year.

"Since last year, I've had a very large number of members of the RNC that have been very encouraging to do it," Graham said. "So when you have that kind of encouragement you start to consider it. So I'd say we're in a deep consideration as a family."