Georgia Senate Marority Leader Bill Cowsert is a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which will be gaveled in on Monday. Here, he reflects on what it takes to become a delegate, and anticipates what he’ll see next week. Sen. Cowsert represents the 46th Senate District, which includes Oconee County and portions of Clarke and Walton counties.
Cleveland, Ohio, is famous for corned beef sandwiches, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the 2016 Republican National Convention. This week, I’m proud to say I’ll get to enjoy all three. A couple of months ago, fellow Georgia Republicans selected me as one of the 76 delegates who will represent Georgia at the National Convention in Cleveland next week. Nationally, 2,472 delegates will attend the convention, each representing a U.S. State, Washington, D.C., American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Becoming a delegate can be a rather complicated matter. In the simplest of terms, delegates are chosen by members of the Georgia Republican Party. Each of Georgia’s 14 Congressional Districts holds a convention where three delegates are elected to represent them at the National Convention. I was one of the three selected at the 10th Congressional District Republican Convention. Likewise, three of Georgia’s delegates are selected by the entire state party when they are elected Georgia’s Republican Committeeman, Committeewoman and state party Chair. Finally, Georgia has 31 “at large delegates.” These men and women were selected at the Republican Party’s statewide convention, held last month in Augusta.
Much of the discussion in the media over the past few months has focused on the idea of a contested convention, unbound delegates and potential rules changes. Personally, I don’t think any of that talk has merit since our state party rules require delegates to support the candidate who wins the Georgia presidential primary. The Republican voters have had their say and we chose Donald Trump as our nominee. As a Republican, as a Georgian and as an American who respects our electoral system, I will represent the people who are sending me to the convention and I will cast my ballot for Donald Trump.
Interestingly, party rules are not the only governing authority on the nomination process. Georgia’s Presidential Preference Primary Act dictates how delegates are to vote. Although some have questioned the authority of the Act versus Republican Convention rules, all delegates have signed an oath agreeing to follow the state party rules and Georgia law and I fully intend to honor that oath.
So, off to Cleveland on Sunday morning to start a week filled with speeches by national Republican figures including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Ted Cruz. Trump’s vice presidential nominee will certainly speak, as will several of his children. We will adopt rules to govern the convention and a national platform of principles endorsed by the Republican Party. I also look forward to several receptions specific to Georgia that include luncheons and breakfasts honoring Georgia’s U.S. Senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, as well as an event honoring our Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle.
There will be balloons, and straw hats, and buttons, and stickers, and confetti. There will be tail gates, and receptions, and corned beef sandwiches and — yes — a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But most importantly, there will be Republicans standing in solidarity with each other to support Republican ideals in the same manner that members of every political party have stood together since we created this great country. I am proud, and humbled, to be a small part of this grand tradition.