| Jocelyn Augustino, American Media Institute

Virginians take center stage in GOP convention floor fight

A raucous first day at the Republican National Convention threw a spotlight on the Virginia delegation.

In a heated floor exchange, convention leaders shot down proposed rules changes that advocates said would return more power to the grassroots. Among the supporters of the change were Virginia delegation leader Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia's former attorney general, and Morton Blackwell, the state’s long-time Republican National Committee member.

Rules change advocates attempted to get a roll call vote on proposals that would have prevented rules changes between conventions, and awarded bonus convention delegates to those states that held closed primaries.

Amid loud calls from the floor demanding a vote and cries of “shame” from some delegates over the process, the convention adopted the Rules Committee report and effectively derailed efforts to block Trump’s nomination.  Cuccinelli threw his credentials on the floor.

Republican Party officials told AMI Newswire they are moving on, and believe the rest of the nation is, too.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told AMI Newswire the protest was “a blip,” that “doesn’t matter.”

Others were less charitable, saying that the Virginia rebels were merely reaping what they had sown at Virginia’s state convention earlier this summer in Harrisonburg, where at-large delegates to the convention were chosen.

With Cuccinelli in charge of that convention, Trump supporters and those running uncommitted were largely shut out of delegate slots to the convention in favor of backers of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

“John Hager, Jerry Kilgore and I were excluded from the Virginia delegation through Cuccinelli’s efforts,” former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore wrote on his Facebook page at the time. “It appears Ken Cuccinelli didn’t want other leadership in the delegation that would have opposed his behavior in Cleveland.”

Former Virginia lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson, who appeared on the 2013 GOP ticket with Cuccinelli, and is an alternate delegate to the Cleveland convention, told AMI Newswire he’s concerned the floor fight “was really more about Donald Trump and personal ambition than it was a rules change.”

“I’m concerned this distracts us from the larger goal, which is to defeat Hillary Clinton,” Jackson said. “I wasn’t a Trump supporter, but we have the nominee we have and we should get on with the business of beating Hillary Clinton in November.”

Jackson said the floor fight was of more interest to political insiders than the public at large. “It was very technical, it was about the rules, so most people probably don’t put much too much stock in what happened.” 

Former South Carolina Lieutenant Governor André Bauer told AMI Newswire the spectacle wasn’t good for the party. “The guy coming home after work and turning on to watch the convention, he saw discord, and that’s not good.”

Bauer added that there would not be any long-term consequences from the protest. “This won’t matter in the long run. The focus here will be on beating Hillary Clinton. And that will smooth over a lot of hurt feelings.”