Butler County treasurer: This year’s GOP convention ‘will be different’

Political science professor says event ‘is primarily about the quest for Republican unity.’

By the end of the 2016 Republican National Convention, the party’s now-presumptive nominee will be its official nominee — but what happens up until that point is anyone’s guess, said Butler County Treasurer Nancy Nix.

Nix is one of three Ohio delegates from Butler County who will attend the convention, which starts on Monday in Cleveland.

“I’m not real sure what to expect,” said Nix, who was a delegate for Mitt Romney when the convention was held in Tampa in 2012. That convention, she said, “was a rah-rah session.”

“It was unified, it was exciting. We were all on the same page,” she said. “This time is different.”

Regardless, she said the convention “is a part of history. It’s fascinating, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Cedarville University political science professor Mark C. Smith said this year’s GOP convention “is primarily about the quest for Republican unity, especially at the elite level.”

“Trump needs to present himself as a viable candidate for the presidency so that donors and office holders are willing to work with him,” he said. “I am not sure anything will bring the Bushes back into the fold, or Mitt Romney, but they represent Trump’s obstacles.”

Smith said there is a movement still to unseat Trump as the nominee, and there are possibilities — albeit long-shot possibilities — to unseat Trump. The rules committee could unbind the delegates by way of making a rule (which needs to be ratified by the entire convention). Then they can vote for whomever.

Or if enough delegates abstain in the first vote, they would then be unbound in a second, and subsequent votes.

“If either of these happen, expect the political earth to slip off its axis,” said Smith. “I am still thinking this will be somewhat formulaic, with Trump securing the nomination on the first ballot.”

Nix and the other 65 Ohio delegates are bound to vote for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who won the state’s March 15 presidential primary. Only if Trump does not reach the minimum number of 1,237 delegates, a second vote would happen.

But like Smith, Nix doesn’t think it would come to a second vote.

“I would assume Trump would win it on the first ballot, but this is a strange year, so anything can happen — maybe there will be a subsequent vote,” she said. “The voters have spoken, and you have to take into account the will of the voters.”

More than 13.3 million people voted for Trump in the states’ primaries and caucuses, and he has more than 1,500 pledged delegates.

The main convention is at the Quicken Loans Arena, but Nix said “it’s a full week” for the delegates where there are a number of gatherings at the arena and at their hotel.

Nix said it won’t be like it was four years ago.

“Anybody who was anybody in the Republican Party was on that stage (in Tampa),” said Nix.

More than a couple dozen of Republican U.S. Senators are skipping the convention, including both U.S. Senators from Arizona. Sen. John McCain is skipping because he’s “up for re-election,” and Sen. Jeff Flake said he’s “got to mow my lawn.”

There are other absences, including Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who said he’ll be fly fishing, and Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who, according to a spokesman, is planning to “take his kids to watch some dumpster fires” which are more popular than the current front-runners.

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