Saturday, April 09, 2016

6th District Shenanigans

The Michigan GOP convention held its district caucuses Friday night. The purpose of the caucus was to elect delegates and three alternates to the national convention in Cleveland. For many years, the 6th district has used an allocation plan that distributes delegates and alternates among the counties by sex. (For example, Allegan County gets a female alternate.) This allocation prevented anyone from one county (St. Joseph) from running for anything, people from two others (Allegan and Van Buren) from running for delegate, and many from running based on their sex.  Restricting delegates based on sex arguably violates state rules, but objections to this policy were not sustained.  Only 34% of state convention delegates were allowed to run for national delegate under this plan.

Unlike previous presidential elections, this time candidates for delegate had to pledge support to a particular candidate prior to the caucus. The sixth district (like all districts) got one delegate/alternate pair for Trump, Cruz, and Kasich. The establishment rules committee proposed rules affirming this allocation. Supporters of Cruz offered an alternative set of rules to split into three subcaucuses, one for each candidate, to elect the delegate and alternate pledged to each candidate. After much discussion, the alternate proposal failed 67-81, and the establishment rules passed by a larger margin.

Four counties had had meetings days before the caucus to pick who they wanted as their delegate or alternate (this should not have been binding on the caucus but was treated as such).  This included delegates pledged to Cruz and Trump, which meant that only the Kasich delegate was left.

Kalamazoo went into a subcaucus.  Several supporters of Cruz (including me) and Trump tried to run for delegate, and were told that this was not allowed.  I pointed out that allocating candidates' delegates by county was not in the rules.  We argued with party officials, then stood around for half an hour or so.  Then we were called back into the room and a motion was made to set up a slate allocating the delegates and alternates by county, sex, and presidential candidate (tacitly admitting that my objection was correct).  The motion passed, and I was prevented from running.  Kalamazoo County went back to sub-caucus and voted on our Kasich delegate and Cruz alternate.  The establishment slate was passed without opposition, as everyone was exhausted after over three hours in caucus.

Delegate - Cass - Male - Cruz - Vic Fitz, 6th District Chairman, county prosecutor
Delegate - Kalamazoo - Male - Kasich - Scott McGraw, county chairman, county commissioner
Delegate - Berrien - Female - Trump - Sharon Tyler, county clerk
Alternate - Allegan - Female - Kasich - Mary Whiteford, state representative
Alternate - Kalamazoo - Male - Cruz - Bonnie Landrum, local activist
Alternate - Van Buren - Male - Trump - Paul DeYoung, Register of Deeds

The slate is all establishment and almost all elected officials.  I don't know if any of them actually support the candidates they are pledged to (none publicly endorsed prior to the primary as far as I can tell).