Last week, in Cleveland, Ohio 2,472 Republican delegates from every state and five territories gathered to formally elect the party’s nominee for President. Additionally, alternate delegates and thousands of guests, visitors, protestors and members of the press descended upon Cleveland. To the surprise of many, Donald J. Trump received 1,725 votes, far exceeding the 1,237 vote threshold for nomination.
Based on my observations, the state delegate system worked as designed. Oklahoma delegates bound to Senator Marco Rubio were released prior to the first ballot and Oklahoma cast 24 votes for Trump and 19 for Senator Ted Cruz. As a delegate elected at the 3rd Congressional District Convention earlier this spring, I was bound to Senator Cruz, and voted for him last Tuesday evening.
Security was extraordinarily tight at every event. Even buses transporting state delegations from their respective hotels to the Quicken Loans Arena had armed federal agents onboard. Not even Cleveland Cavaliers NBA MVP LeBron James could have gained access to ‘his’ arena without proper credentials. To the credit of thousands of law enforcement officers, agents and support personnel, the convention was safeguarded from terrorist attack and other significant disruption. “Blue Lives Matter” was a recurring theme among many keynote speakers, including black police chiefs and ministers. Each time “Blue Lives Matter” was uttered, the audience cheered.
The professionalism and courtesy of the local, state and federal law enforcement community was impressive. It was evident exhaustive planning and rehearsals had been conducted prior to the convention. The degree of military-style security preparation reminded me of similar efforts, albeit on a smaller scale, during my deployment to Afghanistan. Additionally, the courtesy and friendliness of the locals, thousands of volunteers and convention support personnel was refreshing. Cleveland represented its community and Ohio in spectacular fashion.
Most convention speakers were familiar to those who follow national political races. Much of what they said has been stated over and over. The only new political pledge I heard was from Donald Trump, when he promised to work hard to repeal the “Johnson Amendment”—1954 legislation from then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson. The Johnson Amendment prohibits churches from engaging in political activities under threat of losing their tax-exempt status. Donald Trump supports churches having the freedom to discuss political matters without fatal IRS consequences.
For many Oklahoma delegates, this was their first national convention, as it was for me. One delegate was attending her ninth convention, another, his seventh. One first-time delegate brought his family, including young children as guests, which may have been the greatest civics lesson a parent could share with a child.
The general election is just over three months away. With thousands of TV and radio commercials looming, it is acceptable to forget them all, as long as you remember to vote. Too much is at stake, the consequences of this election will shape America for at least a generation, if not permanently. Get involved!
Rex Duncan, a Republican, is the District Attorney for Pawnee and Osage Counties. He was a delegate to the convention, elected the first of three spots at the 3rd Congressional District Convention, in Yukon. Additionally, he served as the 3rd CD Chair (volunteer) for Ted Cruz.