The influence Colorado Republicans could wield on their party’s nomination for president just became more apparent.
The state party has released the names of Colorado Republicans running to become delegates at the July 18 national convention in Cleveland, along with how many of them are pledged to a particular presidential candidate or want to be free agents.
The numbers so far? Nearly two thirds of the roughly 500 announced delegate hopefuls are not pledging support to any candidate. In addition, 102 are committing to Ted Cruz, and 62 are behind Donald Trump. Of these hundreds running, only 37 will make it to Cleveland as Republican delegates from Colorado.
Who they support— or don’t— is important because of the current nature of the national Republican presidential primary, which could be headed toward a chaotic brokered convention. If that happens, Colorado’s un-pledged delegates will have major influence as free agents if they are the ones selected by fellow Colorado Republicans to carry the banner for Colorado in Cleveland.
But would the un-pledged be beholden to most Colorado Republicans presidential preferences? Not really.
The state GOP did not hold an official straw poll for president at their March 1 precinct caucuses like the Democrats did. So how Republicans can flex their muscle in the race instead is by running to become a delegate through their party’s assembly process for a chance to cast a vote in Cleveland.
These Republicans willing to be delegates are loyal Party members. They’ve attended their March 1 precinct caucuses and now are trying to convince other Republicans at upcoming congressional and state assemblies to send them to the national stage. If selected to go, they’ll take part in the presidential nomination process and cast a nominating vote for president. Some of them who are committed backers of Cruz or Trump believe being on the record with such support will give them a better shot at getting to Cleveland. Un-pledged delegates likely believe they’ll have more clout by going the free-agent route.
In Colorado, those running to become a national delegate do not have to pledge their allegiance to a presidential candidate, though. However, many did so voluntarily. Those who did are bound to that candidate if they get to Cleveland and their candidate is still in the race. Those running as un-pledged can vote for whoever they want if they get to Cleveland.
At this point a lingering question is what kind of national convention the Republicans will face in July. One former presidential candidate, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, is predicting none of the current candidates running will rise from the ashes of a brokered convention.
Another looming scenario is whether current front-runner Donald Trump will go into the convention with the delegate count he needs to win or not. If he makes it to Cleveland short of the 1,237 delegates to win him the nomination outright, then Colorado’s un-pledged delegates will become vital and could swing the nomination contest one way or the other.
“I expect most of the delegates who attend the Colorado assemblies in April will be pretty sophisticated, and they will understand that there are going to be essentially three choices in front of them: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, or un-pledged,” says Ryan Call, the former chairman of the Colorado GOP who is running as an un-pledged national delegate himself. “And a concerted effort to elect a combined unity slate of un-pledged and Ted Cruz delegates is going to be understood to be the best alternative at this stage to stop Donald Trump from becoming the Republican nominee for President.”
Bottom line: Colorado’s rank-and-file Republicans might have lost out on an official straw poll at their caucuses on March 1, but the influence of who they select to represent them gains each day on the road to the national convention.
[Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons on Flickr]