Back in March the DC Republican Party held a presidential nominating convention to award its 19 bound delegates to the Republican National Convention. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, days before he suspended his campaign for the GOP nomination, won and received 10 delegates; Ohio Governor John Kasich was a close second and received the other nine.
Donald Trump, the party’s eventual nominee, received no delegates after getting just 13.8 percent of the vote that day. But in Cleveland on Tuesday, things went differently.
“District of Columbia…19 Trump,” the convention secretary said.
Cries of “No!” and “Roll call!” shrieked out from the District’s delegation.
“Our delegation is duly bound to cast ten votes for Senator Rubio, and nine votes for Governor Kasich,” the DC delegates’ leader eventually replied from their seats at the back of the Quicken Loans Arena.
“Pursuant to the announcement of the delegation, and the rules of this convention,” the secretary said, “19 votes Trump.”
Despite being blown out in the national primary by Trump, Rubio and Kasich never unbound the delegates they collected from the states where they competed. So how were 19 Republicans from DC—who were part of a failed uprising Monday to force a roll-call vote on the convention rules in hopes of letting all 2,472 delegates “vote their conscience” (possibly not for Trump)—forced to vote for a blustery showman they dread?
It comes down the DC Republican Party’s own rules. According to the local party’s charter, delegates to the national convention can be locked into a candidate they oppose if there are no other options in a roll-call vote.
“If only one candidate’s name is placed in nomination … all delegates shall be bound to vote for such candidate on the first ballot provided that the candidate received votes in the DC presidential preference poll,” the rules read.
Trump was the only candidate placed in nomination and even though he fared poorly in DC’s primary, he still received 392 votes.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated Marco Rubio suspended his campaign before the DC Republican Party’s March 12 convention. He suspended his campaign March 15.