Dark days for Republicans as #NeverTrump faction eyes one last end-around

A minority report is the most likely path for Trump opponents to force any sort of floor vote. Delegate counters that the Guardian talked to were skeptical about this possibility; one source familiar with Trump efforts said that between pro-Trump members of the rules committee and those aligned with the Republican National Committee chair, Reince Priebus, it was almost mathematically impossible to get the 28 dissenters needed. So far, only three members have publicly endorsed a conscience clause: Kendal Unruh and Guy Short of Colorado, who are both vehement Trump opponents, and Curly Haugland of North Dakota, who has long been a vocal proponent of procedural reform of the RNC.

Even if the opponents of Trump do get the support of the necessary rules committee members, that doesn’t mean a floor vote is automatic. Instead, RNC rules require that within an hour of the rules committee vote that a minority report be submitted in writing to the chairman, vice-chairman, or secretary of the committee or secretary of the convention, along with the signatures of every committee member seeking a minority report. If there aren’t enough signatures or none of the four officials to whom a minority report may be submitted can be found within the hour, the report does not get voted on.

If somehow Trump opponents make it past this hurdle, they then need a majority of the delegates to approve a conscience clause in a floor vote. If that’s achieved, Trump becomes the nominee on the first ballot unless enough delegates use that conscience clause to torpedo candidacy. After all, a conscience clause applies to all bound delegates, including those bound to Ted Cruz or John Kasich…

The group is running radio ads in Iowa in an attempt to persuade Steve Scheffler, an RNC committeeman from the Hawkeye State and a rules committee member, to back the conscience clause. In an interview with the Guardian, Scheffler rejected the campaign against him as the work of a handful of malcontents who are “destructive and nasty people”. In his opinion, “the voters have spoken in 50 states and six territories” and “bullying and intimidation won’t work”.