Why you should care
Because sometimes it’s OK to talk to strangers.
Meet Donna Rowe, a delegate from Georgia who is bound by state rules to vote for Marco Rubio on a first ballot — but who may swing to pick Senator Ted Cruz in a contested convention.
Donna Rowe, 70, Marietta, Georgia
This is my first time being a delegate for the Georgia 6th [Congressional] District. I’ve been active in the Republican Party since I was 13 in Massachusetts. I had several people — friends, party members I’ve worked with — call me and ask if I would go to the GOP’s national convention. I’m an old Army nurse, a Vietnam vet, so people perceived that I’m stable. They wanted me to go because they wanted people to be calm on the floor of the convention. And I said, you know, I’ve never thought of being a national delegate all these years.
You start at the precinct, then the county and then at the district, which is where we elect. I had to send in a letter of intent saying why I wanted to be a delegate, and I had to submit my political résumé — which was four and a half pages long — and there was a questionnaire that they had. One of the questions was, “Are you financially able to afford the estimated expenses of the convention?” They estimate it’s somewhere between $4,000 and $6,000, though if you have a roommate, that cuts the cost of your stay in half. They ask how many years you have been active, and what have you done, in the Republican Party. I kept saying, “Refer to résumé,” “Refer to résumé,” “Refer to résumé.”
Some of the people in my district tell me they think Cruz is too slick, whatever that means.
The night of my appointment, there must have been 20 to 30 people who wanted to be delegates. I went before the nominating committee, and they asked me questions. The next thing I know, the district party members voted on the slate, one candidate at a time. Yeah, the candidates were on the other side of the fence: The Trump people had their red hats on, the Cruz people had stickers on, but there wasn’t any animosity. A lot of these people are my friends. Two people competed against me, and the voters elected me overwhelmingly. I’m very excited and honored. But I’m looking at it more as a real responsibility: I want the people back home to know that I stood for them.
I had to pledge to vote on the first ballot for the person who won the 6th District, and that was Rubio. So that’s fine with me. On a second ballot, I would lean to Cruz. However, I’d have to see what happens. If the people see shenanigans like, for example, a person who has not run for president coming off the floor — I know I won’t appreciate it. If they haven’t been in the horse race, then they shouldn’t be our nominee. Fair and square is fair and square.
Some of the people in my district tell me they think Cruz is too slick, whatever that means. The main reason I’m leaning toward Cruz over Trump is the Supreme Court nominee. I am a religious person, but not known for getting into a religious frenzy. The far-right religious people are behind Cruz, but I would vote for him because of his conservative leanings. I want the appointee to be conservative, and that’s going to have to be done immediately. There won’t be any time for on-the-job training.
As far as Trump goes, I’m hearing that they are fearful about him being president because he’s so erratic at times. The people who haven’t voted in a long time love him to death, because he’s speaking their language. He’s talking to what their concerns are. He is obviously a very intelligent businessman. Not always does he articulate his stance the way I would articulate it, but I have nothing against him.
You won’t persuade me to vote for your candidate if you come to my room when I’m standing there in my jammies and slippers. That doesn’t scare me.
As far as people finding out where I’m staying, my family will know where I am — and that’s about it. If you want to talk to a delegate, you should be able to talk to them: We have to wear those credentials everywhere. You can pick them out from the crowd, when they’re getting coffee. I don’t think it’s smart politics to go to people’s rooms.You won’t persuade me to vote for your candidate if you come to my room when I’m standing there in my jammies and slippers. That doesn’t scare me.
What scares me is what some outside sources might want to do: Can you think of a better venue for a homegrown terrorist attack? I’m not concerned about people getting up and speaking their minds on the floor of the convention, as long as they maintain the proper parliamentarian decorum. I do have a problem if they think badgering and bullying are going to move people. But I’m not afraid of that at all. I’ve seen floor fights on the state level.
You can’t please all the people all the time. There is always going to be a loser. I hope they join forces with the winner, for us to win the election. It really doesn’t matter to me whether it’s Cruz or John Kasich or Trump, as long as when we leave there, we are all together.