When the polls close on Election Day in November, I will have cast ballots in three elections for president in 2016.
The first was in the Louisiana presidential primary back in March, when I voted for Ted Cruz.
The third will be on Election Day in November, when I will almost certainly vote for the Republican nominee for president.
Between those two votes, I will cast a ballot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
I was included in the slate of approved delegates that the Louisiana Republican State Convention selected that were allocated to the Texas US Senator based upon his statewide results in the Louisiana presidential primary.
And while all the media was aflutter about the first contested (or as they often inaccurately called it “brokered”) Republican National Convention since Ronald Reagan took Gerald Ford to a roll call ballot in 1976, I had a simple job as a Cruz delegate: writing in Ted Cruz’s name on every ballot until he won, lost, or dropped out.
With billionaire businessman Donald J. Trump all but certain to secure enough delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination in the western primaries in June, the excitement over a floor battle in Cleveland has waned.
However, with Cruz’s suspension of his campaign, I am no longer obligated to vote for him on the first (and probably only) ballot that will be taken at the GOP conclave according to Rule 4, Section F of the Louisiana Republican State Convention rules.
Generally speaking, the hundreds of delegates the losing presidential candidates amass in the primaries and caucuses aren’t reflected on the roll call at the convention as the party coalesces around the de facto party nominee. The other candidates not named Ron Paul release their delegates and in some cases request that their delegates don’t vote for them, but instead back the presumed nominee.
And sometimes the presumed nominee has “floor whips” patrolling the aisles of the convention, polling delegations of states that are perceived as “politically eccentric”. Needless to say the Great State of Louisiana, proud home of a delegate who cast a ballot for Judge Robert Bork for president, usually receives “special” attention.
In 1996 and 2012 I did not vote my delegate ballot for the individual who went on to win the nomination (for the record, I was NOT the Bork voter) and I have no regrets. I once again find myself in a similar situation in 2016 as I am one of millions of Republicans who are less than enthused about the prospect of Trump becoming the GOP presidential nominee, yet I do not count myself as #NeverTrump either.
And while I may or may not cast my delegate ballot for Cruz at the convention, I am fairly certain I will not cast a ballot for Trump in Cleveland.
Even though I could “fall into line”, Donald Trump has not earned my support at the convention.
His tactics, particularly his smears on the Cruz family, represented a new low in Republican politics.
I don’t trust Trump on critical issues , and I believe there’s a possibility that he will repudiate the conservative planks in the platform that is adopted the same week he is nominated.
I have almost zero confidence in his ability to win in November, based upon long trending head-to-head polling data in battleground states (the recent more favorable polling blip should be discounted until a pattern emerges).
And I question his ability to organize and fund an effective general election campaign.
As someone who has worked in politics, the last part is particularly vexing. Trump often boasted in the primaries that he can be trusted as president because he was self-funding, yet the truth was that he has been accepting donations the entire time and was loaning, not giving, his campaign money and paying down those loans.
As the Democrats are expected to have a billion dollar campaign fund for the general election, how is the politically parsimonious Trump going to counter that?
He can’t combat the Hillary juggernaut with belligerent tweets, fanboy postings by Drudge and Breitbart, and crass stump speeches. As of right now, I see neither a path for Trump’s election nor a financial plan to facilitate a victory.
Now unchallenged in the primaries, Trump MUST use this time to build a proper campaign organization (as opposed to crowd control personnel for mega rallies) and assemble a viable fundraising apparatus. And he needs to honor part of his pledge to self-fund by declaring EXACTLY how much of his own cash he will infuse in his general election campaign.
May and June is the performance period where we will learn what kind of candidate and chance we have in the Fall.
If Trump continues to waste this time going on rhetorical benders in basketball arenas in states that are not in play this November and tweeting out the rest of the menu at Trump Grill, then the real estate developer will have proven the #NeverTrump crowd right, and perhaps will have wrecked the Republican Party beyond repair.