Choosing 99 delegates to the Cleveland Convention July 18-21 is a fair process, but it's more involved than most people realize.
And this year, it could be particularly interesting.
RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia, the man who best knows how the selection process works, told Sunshine State News Monday, "Florida has 99 winner-take-all delegates total. That means every one of the 99 are bound to Donald Trump for the first three ballots. But, if it goes to a fourth ballot, the delegates are unbound and they don't necessarily have to vote for Mr. Trump."
That's what I mean by interesting.
"Believe me, all the candidates are lobbying hard right now to get their supporters seated as delegates on the floor at Quicken Loans Arena," Ingoglia said.
The delegate rules include this: "No later than one week after the presidential preference primary, each Republican presidential candidate whose name appeared on the ballot may submit a list of proposed delegates and alternate delegates from among that candidate’s supporters to be considered as candidates for election."
Here's how Ingoglia explained the selection process:
Of the 99 delegates, three are automatic delegates -- Ingoglia, party chair; Sharon Day, co-chair of the Republican National Committee; and Peter Feaman, national committeeman from Florida.
The rest of the 96 are tied to Florida's 27 congressional districts. Each congressional district is awarded three delegates and three alternate delegates chosen by the chair, state committeeman and state committeewoman of each county that comprises that congressional district.
As an example, look at CD 12. There are three counties in CD 12, Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough. That means the chair, state committee woman and state committee man for each of those counties get to vote on the delegates (9 votes total) that apply to represent that district. And, there is no limit on how many people can apply to become a delegate. Delegate applicants then appear before the district's party leadership and make a short speech on their own behalf. A vote is then taken to choose the three delegates and three alternates.
"It doesn't matter if there are 10 counties within a congressional district or two," Ingoglia explained. "Each congressional district gets three delegates and three alternates."
Alternates attend the convention, just as delegates do, he said. They are seated and part of the convention. They can cheer, carry signs, talk up their candidates -- the only thing they can't do unless they're needed to "sub in" is vote.
When the selection is complete, there are 81 delegates (plus 81 alternates) from the 27 districts. Added to that are the three automatic delegates (Ingoglia, Day and Feaman), bringing the voting total to 84.
What remains are 15 delegates and 15 alternates chosen as at-large delegates.
Ingoglia said, "I submit a proposed list of possible at-large delegates to the executive board and that list is voted on by the board and announced to the membership at our quarterly meeting in May."
Ingoglia said he believes most wounds inflicted after his surprise election in 2015 have healed, and that the Senate in particular -- once so afraid of the new chairman's access to senators' funds its members pulled $800,000 out of the party coffers -- is helping the party deliver Florida to the Republican nominee.
Party leaders say they remain hopeful Gov. Rick Scott, whose choice for RPOF chair was defeated, will return to his role as leader of party fundraising.
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