Arizona Delegation Split Over Contentious Rules Fight

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - 9:13am
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2016 - 3:53pm
Audio icon Download mp3 (1.74 MB)
(Photo by Jude Joffe-Block - KJZZ)
Arizona's delegation sign is seen at the Republican National Convention on July 18.
(Photo by Jude Joffe-Block - KJZZ)
Lori Hack made it into the Quicken Loans Arena despite being removed from the Arizona delegation.

A faction of delegates at the Republican National Convention on Monday attempted to vote down new party rules, but their effort to get a roll call vote failed.

Arizona’s delegates were divided on the floor fight, which was seen as a last ditch effort by the anti-Trump camp to nominate another candidate. Though some dissenting delegates said the controversy was being mischaracterized.

The first rumblings of this controversy in the Arizona delegation came when Lori Hack, an elected delegate, announced her plans to not vote for Trump. That was despite a state law requiring all 58 delegates to vote for the winner of the presidential preference election in the first round. Hack has argued the law is unconstitutional.

GOP chairman Robert Graham responded by kicking Hack off the delegation. He announced Hack had resigned as a result of her statement and reassigned her credentials.

Hack insisted she had not resigned and showed up in Cleveland anyway. While she was unable to get her Arizona credentials, she managed to get into the Quicken Loans arena to assist an attempt by the group Delegates Unbound to free delegates to vote their conscience.

“We are the final say if this will this be our nominee or not and they are trying to muzzle it,” Hack said. “If that is the case, why have a convention, truly?”

When KJZZ talked to Hack in the early afternoon on Monday she said the movement to choose another nominee was not over yet.

“People are fighting to the end because hopefully we can save history from making a very poor choice,” Hack said. “And sometimes you can’t. But at least you stood [up]. So when people look back, and say wait a minute, where were the sane people? There was a group of us who said, 'No, let’s not do it.'”

While those pushing for delegates to be able to vote their conscious had lost a critical fight in the rules committee meeting last week, they made a last push from the floor to get the rules package voted down from the floor.

They wanted a roll call vote, which they said was necessary to ensure the will of the delegates was heard. Their opponents accused them of trying to derail the convention with a lengthy procedure.

Those opposed to the rules package began chanting “roll call vote” from the floor while Trump’s ardent supporters tried to drown them out with “USA! USA!” and “We want Trump!”

In the end, Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack, who was presiding over the vote, took a verbal vote of yeas and nays. Both sides shouted loudly. Alternates in the stands also screamed even though only the delegates were supposed to vote.

Womack decided the yeas had it.

Nine states initially supported a petition for a roll call vote, but then it was announced from the stage that some delegates had backed out and there was not sufficient support for the petition. Seven states must support a petition for a roll call vote.

According to Arizona party leaders, 37 delegates supported the rules package and a minority of at least 15 delegates were part of the faction trying to vote it down. Jarrod White was among the dissenters.

He told KJZZ the media was getting it wrong by making the fight all about anti-Trump and unbinding delegates. He said the rules package included changes that were undemocratic and fostered a lack of transparency, which White said Trump supporters should also be wary of.

He was disappointed by the process that denied the roll call vote. He said in order for the Never Trump movement to die at the convention, and for the party to unify around Trump, it would be better to let everyone feel heard first.

“If we have controversy over the votes how are we going to be in agreement?” White said. “A lot of people spent a lot of money to be here, we funded ourselves. We came here to vote and if our votes aren’t counted it is very disconcerting.”

White and some others are wearing mockingjay pins, a symbol of rebellion in "The Hunger Games" book series.

During KJZZ’s interview with White at a reception in a bar close to the Quicken Loans Arena, fellow delegate Jack Harper began filming White on his cell phone. Harper, who is a former state senator from Surprise and a strong Trump supporter, wanted to see if White was going to confess to a plan to deny Trump his vote.

“Our chairman has indicated he will withhold credentials from any delegate who says he will not vote for Trump," Harper said.

Harper said he would have turned over any evidence to Robert Graham. “I am astonished at how many people were openly willing to violate their state’s law that they have to vote for [Trump],” Harper said.

White countered by saying that was not the point of Monday’s controversy.

“We are not even at the nomination process,” White said. “What we are talking about is rules, rules, rules. That is not a Trump issue, we are talking about the rules of the Republican party.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: An Arizona delegate's name has been updated to relfect the correct spelling Jarrod White.