Arizona Delegates Arrive In Cleveland Amid Calls For Party Unity

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Monday, July 18, 2016 - 7:32am
Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2016 - 8:08am
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(Photo by Jude Joffe-Block - KJZZ)
Delegate Sophia Johnson and alternate Donna Naylor at a welcome mixer for the Arizona delegation on July 16.
(Photo by Jude Joffe-Block-KJZZ)
Former Arizona Attorney General Robert Corbin sports the bolo tie he and all Arizona delegates wore to the 1976 convention.
(Photo by Jude Joffe-Block-KJZZ)
The Arizona flag at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

CLEVELAND — The Republican National Convention begins today, and 58 delegates from Arizona will be part of the action.

While the delegates are in Cleveland to nominate Donald Trump to be the party’s presidential nominee, the majority of Arizona’s delegates who are here originally backed Ted Cruz in the primary.

Arizona Republican Party chairman Robert Graham welcomed the delegates with a message about the importance of party unity.

“Realize your potential but also realize your strength when you bring people together,” Graham said. “That is when power comes.”

Heading into this convention there were some lingering doubts about whether there would be a push by the Never Trump movement to nominate someone else.

Then last week Arizona delegate Lori Hack was kicked off the delegation after she vowed to buck state rules by not voting for Trump. And the Never Trump camp failed to change a key party rule, leading many to call the movement officially defeated.

Dr. Laurence Schiff, an enthusiastic Trump supporter and delegate, applauded the fall of the Never Trump push at a poolside mixer for Arizona delegates on Saturday night.

“How does it feel? Well they lost,” said Schiff, who is from Kingman.

Still, Schiff said he was aware many others in the delegation have reservations about Trump. Only 17 of the Arizona delegates originally appeared on a Trump slate during the delegate election at the state convention in April, according to an analysis by KJZZ.

“Do I see myself as a little bit of crusader to convert people and teach people that Trump is with us on most of the big issues? Yes I do.” Schiff said.

Alternate delegate Eric Morgan said he was originally skeptical of Trump, because he wasn’t sure where the candidate really stood on the issues. But now Morgan, who works as a semiconductor engineer in the Valley, said he has embraced his party’s presumptive nominee.

“If I had a message for any of my Cruz friends out there, [it's] we can’t afford to stay home this time around,” Morgan said.

Morgan said it is most important to him to have a Republican president nominating justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, and he would like to see all Republicans help elect Trump.

“It’s actually rare that your guy gets the nomination,” said delegate Constantin Querard, who led Ted Cruz’s campaign in Arizona and played a key role in securing a majority of delegate slots from his camp at the state convention in April.

“You kind of may be wistful for your guy, and [Cruz] will make a speech and we will probably think it is just the most amazing speech, but that is fine,” Querard said. “I think most of the focus now is just on November.”

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