| Jocelyn Augustino, American Media Institute

GOP reformers promise to continue fight after Cleveland setback

CLEVELAND — The movement to change Republican Party nomination rules promised to fight on despite its failure at the presidential convention.

Delegates Unbound, a group that would have allowed convention delegates to switch their votes from primary winner Donald Trump, said Wednesday that the fight to reform the GOP is only beginning. The group was defeated in an attempt to force a floor vote Monday night.

The group continues to worry about the tone the major party candidates, particularly Donald Trump, have set in the 2016 campaign, Dave Waters, a co-founder of Delegates Unbound, said in an interview with AMI Newswire Wednesday at the group's temporary offices on Cleveland's Superior Avenue.

As his group reached out to convention delegates, trying to convince them to back rules changes Waters hoped would prevent "the travesty we've witnessed in Cleveland," he said he received thousands of emails from people opposing his efforts, some of them quite angry.

"If I read the 'f' word one more time, I think I’m going to puke," Waters said.

Waters said the convention was "rigged" to support Trump and had been "stolen" from the delegates.

"The national convention is scripted as far as the public sees it on TV," Waters said. "It’s behind the scenes where the real activity takes place and the real decisions are made."

One way to avoid such issues in the future — and to prevent the nomination of another Trump-like candidate — is to change the process for nominating candidates, said Waters.

"Go to party-staged and party-organized conventions in the states," Waters said. "Do away with primaries and caucuses entirely."

That goal may be impossible to reach, Kyle Kondik, managing editor of “Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball,” told AMI Newswire.

"The history of the primary process suggests that the trend is generally toward more public participation, not less," Kondik said. "I just don’t see the widespread use of nominating conventions being acceptable to a voting public that has become accustomed to primaries or caucuses." 

Waters said his group is weighing its next moves, but the larger goal is to "change the political culture" of the Republican Party.

"We’ll go after state chairmen, and national Republican committee members, on an issue-by-issue basis," Waters said. "The aim is to break up the current power structure and, for lack of a better term, bring new blood into the party that actually listens to the grassroots, instead of steamrolling them."

Shaun Kenney, a former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, told AMI Newswire that reformers like Waters may be able to find some success, but their model for change may be the Democratic Party.

"In 2004, the Democrats rallied after a crushing presidential loss, and managed to take back Congress," Kenney said. "That was an 18-month process, but they got it done. It just takes a bit of vision, leadership that benches the cronyism, and the right sort of investment to make it happen." 

Waters said conditions are promising for a similar revival by Republicans.

"The energy to reform GOP is greater now than it has ever been," he said. "This convention highlighted several serious issues within the GOP and how it treats its grassroots. That energy needs to be harnessed now to carry on the fight."

"The real answer is hard work, which is why folks are so afraid of it,"Kenney said. "Republicans ought to be trusting and maximizing grassroots investment and leadership, not engineering AstroTurf. That's how the progressive left figured it out, and it's a matter of time before conservatives do likewise. Republicans just haven't lost hard enough to get there yet."