An anti-Donald Trump coup is brewing in Georgia

Credit: Jim Galloway

Credit: Jim Galloway

Georgia Republican delegates who backed Donald Trump's rivals in the GOP primary are being pressed by Ted Cruz's allies to vote against him at next month's convention in Cleveland.

Dozens of Georgia's 76 delegates to the convention have received texts or emails from anti-Trump forces pressing them not to support the party's presumptive nominee at the convention. The calls have only intensified amid growing signs of turmoil within Trump's campaign.

Glynn County Cruz Chairman Larry Grabill, who authored one of the pleas sent to Georgia delegates, wrote that Trump has "shown himself unfit and has little chance to win against Hillary" Clinton. He attached his dispatch to a so-called "Delegates Declaration of Independence" that's making the rounds.

Their late push is a long shot. There is no national leader behind the effort and no money. And in Georgia, while Cruz supporters outmaneuvered Trump in an early round of delegate votes, much of the party has united behind the billionaire since he locked up the nomination.

Still, Randy Evans, the Republican national committeeman from Georgia, told Politico the anti-Trump attempt bubbling around the nation is "implausible but not impossible given the unrest."

Later, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker endorsed one of their preferred methods for stopping Trump: freeing all 2,472 Republican National Convention delegates to vote their conscience, rather than abiding by rules and state laws that bind them to support Trump.

"Delegates are and should be able to vote the way they see fit," Walker said, according to an Associated Press account.

Some Georgia delegates scoffed at the coup attempt. William Carter, a delegate in the Savannah-based 1st Congressional District, accused the plotters of abandoning the GOP and handing the election to the Democrats.

“This is an idiotic and close-minded approach for these people to take. Why?” Carter said. “It's simple, they are willing to have Trump not be the Republican nominee and run as a third-party candidate, which he almost certainly would do if this were to be successful.”

John Wood, who serves as chairman of the district’s GOP committee but is not a delegate, said he’s also received a range of emails and texts from Cruz backers hoping to block Trump in Cleveland.

“There’s still a collective notion that we have not bought into the Trump candidacy. There’s still people that have buyers’ remorse,” Wood said. “I’m not sure what that buyers’ remorse means, but I know it’s complicated. But we know that Donald Trump can help himself by naming a strong running mate.”

Here’s a copy of the email making the rounds:

This is Larry Grabill, Glynn County Chairman for Cruz. You probably have heard about the growing numbers of delegates who are refusing to vote for Trump on the grounds that since they signed their qualifying oaths Donald has shown himself unfit and has little chance to win against Hillary. Kindal Unruh says you should notify the state chairman and your congressmen that you are not going to vote for Trump. Sleve Deace suggests sending the following:

To our fellow Republicans:

We, the undersigned, have decided to come forward “for such a time as this.”

The Gospel of Luke tells us that “To whom much is given, much is required.” It is one of the most powerful passages in the Scriptures and helped to inspire the closing words of our founding document, The Declaration of Independence: “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honors.”

Two-hundred-and-forty years later, it is the spirit of those words that have brought us together to make this declaration. Because when in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them, it is also a requirement to state the causes which impel them to such a separation.

They are:

  • The rules of the Republican Party have been clear since its first convention in Philadelphia. Delegates can’t be forced to do something which violates their own conscience. Rule 38 clearly states “No delegate or alternate delegate shall be bound by any attempt of any state of Congressional district to impose the unit rule. A ‘unit rule’ prohibited by this section means a rule or law under which a delegation at the national convention casts its entire vote as a unit as determined by a majority vote of the delegation.”

  • The Constitution protects freedom of association.

  • It is unconstitutional for state governments to violate the First Amendment by mandating the manner in which private citizens govern private institutions (see Cousins v. Wigod).

  • About the most un-Republican thing the party of Lincoln and Reagan can do is compelling its members to violate their own conscience. And that is particularly true since ours was a party founded by those who refused to violate their consciences as one-time members of the Whig Party. Beyond simply being illegal, such an act is a repudiation of everything it means to be a Republican.

For these reasons, we the undersigned, who have been duly elected as delegates of the Republican Party to represent the interest of our fellow Republicans, consider ourselves unbound and will vote accordingly at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland July 18-21.

The issue at hand goes well beyond the problematic presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. For if he has the requisite number of delegates as he claims, he shouldn’t fear the freedom we are calling for but should embrace it instead. Winning a clear majority of unbound delegates after winning a record number of votes in the primary would make for a powerful mandate.

But beyond that, the most fundamental issue is whether Republicans truly believe in freedom or not. Do the sort of checks and balances our Founding Fathers handed us in the form of mechanisms like the Electoral College still ring true to us, and will we defend our right to be their heirs?

We, the undersigned, do not believe the contrived primary system – which includes masses of non-Republicans invading our elections, and gives undue influence over the outcome to a media industry that has proven to hate us – serves the best interests of Republicans. That’s why the delegates have always had the final say, and it should be no different in Cleveland.

We delegates are the closest representation of the base of our party. We are elected officials as well as everyday activists. And because we stand on principle before all else, we are the GOP’s lifeblood.

It is time for actual Republicans to determine who our nominee will be once more. Much time, talent, and treasure has been volunteered in order to be delegates to the Republican Party and, in so doing, preserve the conservative platform for which it stands, ensure its integrity and strengthen its legacy.

Now, more than ever, with American Exceptionalism teetering on the brink of history, the American people and our cherished Constitution both need the real Republican Party to please stand up.

That is our charge to keep in Cleveland, and keep it we will.