America’s most awkward primary – Politico

7 months ago Comments Off on America’s most awkward primary – Politico

After spending a year turning “D.C. Republicans” into a campaign epithet, GOP primary candidates Saturday will find themselves looking to actual D.C. Republicans for some much-needed support.

Nineteen delegates are on the line Saturday when the D.C. Republican party holds its caucus, which will be conducted at a lone polling place a few blocks from the White House in the Loews Madison Hotel.

Story Continued Below

In elections past, the D.C. contest was of more curiosity than consequence—a chance to poll some of the country’s most plugged-in partisans, but nothing that would make much of a difference as to who would actually be the party’s nominee.

This time is different. With Donald Trump walking a tightrope toward the 1,237 delegates he’d need to clinch the nomination outright and as the rest of the GOP field scrambling to keep him from getting there, no batch of delegates can be ignored. Even if they’re delegates that come attached to a healthy dose of insider stigma.

Regardless of who wins, don’t expect him to spend next week touting their insider credentials.

Marco Rubio has made no secret of his disdain for the workings of the Senate, and John Kasich—whose campaign frequently touts his Congressional experience—has taken to describing himself as an outsider who can get things done in the way Washington Republicans can’t.

Those are warm and fuzzy relationships compared with what Trump and Cruz have to say about D.C. Republicans on a regular basis. Trump summed up his views like this in August: “Our leaders are stupid. Our politicians are stupid”—a line he repeats regularly. And every election night, Cruz tells his supporters some version of the sentiments expressed in this tweet: “The screaming you hear now from across the Potomac is the Washington Cartel in full terror that the conservative grassroots are rising up.”

A mere 7,920 miles away, Republicans in Guam will hold a convention to elect the 12 delegates they’ll be sending to the Republican convention in Cleveland. The island territory will pick delegates, but none of those delegates will be tied to a specific primary candidate, meaning they’ll come to Cleveland free to support whomever they choose.

And then there’s Wyoming, where Republicans will hold county conventions Saturday to allocate 12 of the state’s 29 delegates to the presidential rivals. Why only 12? Because when it comes to dividing delegates, nothing is simple in Wyoming—and they’re waiting until next month to pick the other 17.

It’s a worldwide race on Saturday for Republicans. Here’s what to watch for.

Who wants to win a trip to Cleveland?
D.C. Republicans who show up to vote Saturday will cast two ballots. The first is fairly standard, with voters getting to pick from candidates on the GOP ballot to decide how many delegates’ votes each candidate gets. There are 16 regular delegates up for grabs, which will be allocated proportionally to any candidate getting more than 15 percent. There are three additional Republican National Committee delegates who will be awarded as a bonus to whoever gets the plurality of votes. And if someone gets the majority of votes? They get to take all 19 delegates. But there’s a second race in play. A full 160 people will be lobbying voters to support them in their bid to actually be one of the delegates who gets to go the Republican national convention in Cleveland.

The voting takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time, but even there there’s a wrinkle: voters can vote later if, for religious reasons, they’re unable to during the day—a rule intended primarily to accommodate Orthodox Jews. Results are expected around 9 p.m.

What on earth is going on in Wyoming?
A state Republican party official explains: Republicans in Wyoming’s 23 counties get together to vote at county conventions on Saturday, but they’re not voting directly for president. Instead, the counties are picking individuals who say ahead of time which candidate they’d vote for in Cleveland. But it’s more complicated than that: not all 23 of the delegates elected will actually get to vote in Cleveland. 22 of the 23 counties are put into pairs, with one county getting to pick an actual delegate and the other picking an alternate. Four years later, however, they switch roles. The 23rd county, however, gets to send a delegate based on its county results every single time. Live large, good people of Laramie County.

Making D.C. great again?
There aren’t a lot of Republicans in D.C. Mitt Romney got 7.3 percent of the vote in 2012 to Obama 90.9 percent. And that was a coup compared with the 6.5 percent of the vote John McCain took home in 2008.

And if it’s hard to find Republicans in the nation’s capital, it’s even more difficult to find Republicans vocally backing Trump. When a Washington Post reporter went looking for D.C.-based Trump supporters in late February, he found nobody willing to speak up on the billionaire’s behalf. Even two people running to be pro-Trump declined to comment on why.

On Saturday, D.C. Republicans get to see if the primary’s nationwide front-runner has a popular following at home, or if support for him is as scarce as it publicly appears.

America’s most awkward primary – Politico