The Seventh District Republican Convention got a little testy this afternoon after initially rejecting a slate proposed by the nominating committee and then voting to send all but Debbie Dooley to the Republican convention in Cleveland. Instead of Dooley, convention delegates chose David Hancock, the head of the United Tea Party of Georgia.
Roughly 70% of the seventh district is in Gwinnett, which voted in the March 1st primary for Donald Trump with 32% of the vote, Marco Rubio with 30% and Ted Cruz with 26%. The remaining 30% is in Forsyth County, which voted 37% for Trump, 29% for Rubio and 24% for Cruz. For the district, this meant there were two delegates pledged to vote for Trump in the first round, and one delegate pledged for Rubio. The Nominating Committee, led by former Gwinnett Republican vice-chair Brandon Doty, and including former chair Scott Haggard and longtime member Ben Satterfield had to consider 19 people who said they wanted to run for one of the three delegate and three alternate spots to the national convention in Cleveland.
Preparing to announce the nominating committee’s choices, Doty told the 179 convention delegates that the committee did not consider which presidential candidate a potential delegate supported when deciding their slate, only that the person they picked both would support the candidate they were bound to in the first round, and that they would support the eventual GOP nominee in November.
The nominating committee recommended former Georgia GOP vice-chair BJ VanGundy as the delegate bound to Rubio, and Atlanta Tea Party founder Debbie Dooley and Forsyth County GOP first Vice Chairman and longtime GOP volunteer Carolyn Fisher as Trump delegates. For the alternate slots, State Rep. and former Gwinnett GOP chair Buzz Brockway was bound to Rubio, while former Gwinnett GOP vice-chair Mary Adamski and longtime Gwinnett volunteer Kathy Statham were bound to Trump.
The convention failed to vote for the slate in a standing vote. This meant that nominations from the floor would be taken, with the floor nominee(s) running as an alternative to one of the Nominating Committee’s choices. After a short recess, convention chair BJ Van Gundy opened up nominations, and former 7th District congressional candidate David Hancock was nominated to replace Dooley as the only floor nomination.
After voting to accept the other five nominees, Dooley and Hancock each had the opportunity to make nomination speeches. Debbie told the delegates that it was extremely unfair that she was the only one of the proposed slate that was a Trump supporter, and she threatened the convention if she was ultimately not elected as a delegate. “If you exclude Trump supporters from the slate,” Dooley warned, “It’s going to be challenged. I’m already in touch with the national Trump campaign. and they’re going to challenge [the 7th district delegates].”
Hancock got a passionate nominating speech from Andre Adamski, who pointed out Dooley’s recent lack of participation in party activities. Prominent Ted Cruz supporter Kathy Hildebrand also recommended Hancock. It should be noted that of the six nominees, the two committed to Rubio supported him in the primary, there was one John Kasich supporter and I believe the remaining three support Cruz. Dooley told me that she felt the nominating committee’s slate was a reasonable compromise, given that Trump did have the largest number of votes in the district. Convention delegates didn’t agree, and voted to send Hancock to Cleveland.
Following the vote Dooley and around half a dozen supporters grabbed the American flag they had brought to the convention and walked out.
In a Facebook post Dooley described what happened from her point of view:
The Gwinnett Cruz Campaign at the 7th District had overwhelming numbers at the 7th District Convention. They voted to exclude Trump supporters from being delgates and alternates representing Trump.
Kathy Hildebrand (President of Conservative Republican Women of North Atlanta) and Andre Adamski basically said the real vote was today and at the national convention.
Of course, as Nominating Committee chairman Doty clearly explained, Donald Trump will receive the votes of two of the Seventh District Delegates in the first round of voting. Whether that will be enough to make Trump the nominee is still unknown, of course. What will happens in later rounds of voting is unknown. While Dooley may claim that what happened was a theft of delegates by the Cruz campaign, for at least two of the delegates, Cruz was not their first choice.
H/T to Michael Chase Strollo for the video.