“My guiding principle regarding rules of the Republican party is to the extent possible, the process should flow from the bottom-up rather than the top-down. She’s been on the committee a long while and has supported every effort to centralize power in the party,” says Virginia committeeman Morton Blackwell, who, like Ash, wants convention delegates to respect the voters’ will and nominate Trump.
“If you were trying to send a signal that this is a Trump convention, I’m not sure those are the two people you’d put in charge,” says one Rules Committee veteran, who, like several others concerned over Mickelsen’s selection, asks not to be named. “You would have expected a very clearly pro-Trump person to be appointed as Rules Committee chairman, because this is the only place his nomination could be put into jeopardy.”
The RNC member, an ally to Priebus, worries that Mickelsen’s appointment is feeding the perception that “Reince created an escape hatch in case something goes wrong between now and July 17. People think that. They know he’s a really smart guy. . . . Maybe he said, ‘I’m going to build that hatch into the Rules Committee.’”
Of course, that’s news to some anti-Trump Republicans intent on blowing up the GOP rulebook inside Mickelsen’s committee. In their view, she was chosen precisely because of her loyalty to Priebus and the party elders who are determined to enforce the status quo in Cleveland.