The Buzz

Trump campaign scours for loyalists in Missouri

Donald Trump, Mar. 15 2016
Donald Trump, Mar. 15 2016 AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

There are growing signs the Donald Trump campaign realizes it needs to work harder to find loyal delegates for the 2016 Republican National Convention in July.

There could be a problem.

In an email Friday marked “urgent,” the businessman’s Missouri campaign asked supporters to attend local party caucuses April 9.

“On March 15th, voters in Missouri spoke and decided that Donald Trump should be the Republican Nominee.” the email says.

“Local Election Authorities just submitted their official results to the state, and they confirm that we have won a plurality of votes in five Congressional Districts and a plurality of votes statewide! That means, according to the Missouri Republican Party rules Mr. Trump gets 37 pledged delegates in Missouri and Ted Cruz gets 15. We need YOUR HELP to ensure Mr. Trump receives all 37 delegates.”

The email suggests the Trump campaign understands the problem it may face if disloyal delegates are picked in Missouri and other states.

“We highly encourage you to attend your local caucus, and bring other Trump supporters that are registered to vote in your county,” it says. “All attendees will be able to vote for delegates to go to the Congressional and State Conventions. We need you and your friends there to ensure Mr. Trump receives all delegates that are rightfully his.”

The issue isn’t whether Trump will get 37 delegate votes on the first ballot at the convention. Barring changes, he will. Party rules require the delegate votes reflect the primary on the first ballot.

But those rules can be changed, and delegates are not bound to vote as directed by candidates. If Ted Cruz supporters are elected as the actual delegates, for example, they could vote to change the rules and unbind the state’s delegates on the first roll call.

So the actual people elected as convention delegates are important. Trump needs to elect loyalists who will vote as he directs on all issues before the convention, not just the nomination.

That’s the reason for the memo.

Four years ago the Missouri GOP held raucous, difficult meetings to select delegates to the convention. Supporters of Ron Paul flooded many caucuses, often disrupting the proceedings.