Displaying the elan and grace that has been the hallmark of the Trump campaign since day one, Trump’s Tennessee organization may have made a costly mistake that could hurt Trump’s chances to win a contested convention.
The story is long and somewhat complex. Trump won about 39% of the vote here in Tennessee, and was awarded 57% of the state’s delegate total. Most of those delegates were actually voted on and elected by name as part of the voting process. The remainder are “at large” – which in this context means selected by the state party but bound to vote for a given candidate at least in the first round of voting.
They are not, however, bound in any subsequent round of voting. So in the event that Trump does not reach 1,237 delegates (an increasingly likely possibility), the personal loyalty of these delegates to Trump is very important to the Trump campaign.
You would think, under these circumstances, that the Trump Tennessee organization would find it in their best interest to maintain at least a healthy working relationship with the Tennessee GOP. But then, if you thought that, you would be unfamiliar with Trump supporters in general. Instead, they have been publicly insulting Tennessee GOP members and basically taunting them over Trump’s victory.
Whether in response to that or not, some of the “at-large” delegates selected as “bound” Trump delegates are, at least according to Team Trump (and their own Facebook pages) very opposed to Trump. So while they are bound to vote for him in the first round, the chances that they will do so in the second round, are pretty small.
Discussions between Team Trump and the State Party grew increasingly contentious, when Trump’s Tennessee campaign manager Darren Morris compounded the problem by sending out an email yesterday basically asking Trump supporters to crash a meeting of the executive committee of the TN GOP today – which of course Trump supporters happily obliged to do, complete with threats of violence (including death threats) against TN GOP members.
As you might imagine, the result did not go well for Team Trump:
Death threats, protests and allegations of vote-stealing didn’t stop Tennessee Republican Party leaders on Saturday from finalizing a list of delegates to the GOP’s national presidential nominating convention over fierce objections from backers of Donald Trump.
The raucous meeting in Nashville underscores a growing rift among Republicans and adds to party angst over a possible floor fight at the GOP convention in July.
The measure, approved by a tally of 40-25, comes a day after the Trump campaign accused the party of trying to “steal” delegates, even after he handily won the state’s primary last month. On Saturday Trump’s backers flocked to the party’s executive committee meeting in Nashville, doubling down on allegations that officials are trying to stack Tennessee’s delegation with members likely to vote for another candidate if given the chance.
It turns out, being an unmitigated asshole to people sometimes has consequences. Who knew?