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Trump Leads, Rubio Gains; On to DC

Trump Leads, Rubio Gains; On to DC
Trump and Rubio, 2015 (AP) 

By Monday, 07 March 2016 08:33 AM Current | Bio | Archive

After the weekend’s highly charged primaries, the votes are in — and the count showed a highly uncertain GOP contest: Donald Trump 391 delegates, Ted Cruz 302, Marco Rubio, 147, and John Kasich 37.

Two days after four states (Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maine) chose its national convention delegates and one day after Puerto Rico did the same, the overall delegate count added fuel to the fiery debates. But many feel Washington, D.C. will weigh big on everyone’s minds.

Although the District of Columbia will only send 19 delegates to the Republican National Convention in July, the importance of the small Republican Party in the nation’s capital grows as speculation mounts that the convention rather than the primary season will determine the party’s presidential nominee.

“I think that’s a big reason you will see a lot of attention on our convention March 12,” Patrick Mara, executive director of the D.C. Republican Party, told me, “When you have a nomination for president that is uncertain, every delegate counts.”

Mara spoke to me on Wednesday, shortly after a sell-out crowd of 250 jammed the D.C. Republican Party’s annual dinner at Washington’s Madison Loews Hotel.

Speakers were Colorado Rep. Ken Buck and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse — who made headlines last week by saying he would not support Donald Trump if he became the Republican nominee.

Perhaps aware there were a number of Trump backers in the dining room, Sasse carefully avoided any remarks on the GOP front-runner except for one joking reference.

In results that mirrored those of Virginia in the “Super Tuesday” primary the day before, Trump won the “straw poll” at the D.C. dinner by edging Marco Rubio 31 per cent to 28 per cent.

They were followed by Ted Cruz at 16 per cent, John Kasich 14 per cent, and Dr. Ben Carson (who has since ended his campaign) 5 per cent.

When the Democratic-dominated City Council scheduled the District’s presidential primary for June 14, it placed D.C. Republicans in conflict with national party rules (which forbid choosing delegates that close to the national convention).

Accordingly, the small GOP organization is paying about $60,000 to hold a “convention” March 12.

“What that means is from 10:00 a.m., to 4:00 p.m., anyone who is a registered Republican in the District of Columbia can show up at the Madison Loews and vote for candidates for national convention delegate who are committed to a candidate or uncommitted,” explained Mara.

What makes the race for the 19 delegate slots intriguing is that a number of well-known Republicans are running as “uncommitted” or neutral delegates.

Among them are former Bush 43 administration deputy press secretary Tony Fratto, former State Department official Paula Dobriansky, and former D.C. city council candidate Christina Culver.

The importance of uncommitted delegates was demonstrated the last time a Republican presidential contest that to the national convention.

Before they arrived in Kansas City for their showdown in 1976, then-President Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan sought out delegates from just about anywhere to try to sway them in their nail-biting race for nomination.

Ford met with several uncommitted delegates to the White House, while Reagan personally telephoned a number of them at home.

Ford eked out the nomination, winning 1,187 delegates to Reagan’s 1,070.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.


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After the weekend’s highly charged primaries, the votes are in — and the count showed a highly uncertain GOP contest.
Delegate, Delegates, Poll
Monday, 07 March 2016 08:33 AM
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