McConnell, Bevin among 25 picked as delegates for Republican National Convention in July

04/23/2016 10:45 PM

LEXINGTON — Kentucky Republicans elected the final 50 delegates and alternates to this year’s Republican National Convention, choosing U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Matt Bevin, Congressman Hal Rogers and others during Saturday’s state convention.

Despite some slight bumps, the slate of 25 delegates and 25 alternates cleared the convention on the first ballot, a feat the Republican presidential nominee may not match when delegates converge on Cleveland July 18.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump holds 845 delegates to Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s 559 and Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 148 with 10 contests remaining before the national convention.

The eventual nominee needs 1,237 delegate votes to secure the nomination, but delegates are bound to their candidate only on the first ballot. In Kentucky’s March 5 caucus, Trump won 17 of the state’s 46 delegates, Cruz took 15 and Kasich and Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio each gained seven.

Failure to secure 1,237 delegates on the first ballot would lead to a contested convention, and McConnell disputed reports that he and other Republican elites are trying to keep Trump from the nomination.

“There isn’t any sort of insider effort that could go on to keep this from being anything other than being a pretty open and transparent process,” he said in his speech at the Lexington Convention Center. “I’m always amused by the suggestions that there’s some kind of group that can deliver the nomination. Let me say if there were such a group, I’d probably be in it, right? There isn’t any such group.”

But that wasn’t enough to convince Tim Nolan, Campbell County chairman for the Trump campaign, who spoke against the nominated delegates and alternates because “there’s a concerted effort to try to keep Trump from gaining his rightful place as our nominee.”

“And he may not even be supported by these delegates even if he was our nominee,” Nolan said.

Bevin offered more fiery remarks than McConnell from the stump, with remarks that seemed aimed at Trump although he never mentioned the New York businessman or any other candidate by name.

The governor said the Republican nominee and the next president should be consistent, and while Trump’s central campaign message is to make America great again, Bevin said that’s not necessary for “the greatest nation on Earth.”

“People who will constantly give you what itching ears want to hear for the sake of getting in that moment what they want from that individual at that time, this is not what the greatness of America was built on,” Bevin said.

“When we talk about the greatness of America, I will tell you while there are many who would tell us otherwise, America is great,” he continued.

However, he told reporters after his remarks that his comments were not intended as a slight against Trump.

“I was making no advocation one way or the other,” Bevin said.

“I’m encouraging people to do their homework, to not be titillated by anything one way or the other, and there’s people who support every one of the people still running who find themselves enamored perhaps by things that are not as thoughtful as they might otherwise be, and I encourage people to dig beneath that, look at the facts, look for consistency, and to make the best determination.”

Bevin declined to say who he’d support if the presidential nominating contest continued past the first ballot, but he said whoever wins in Cleveland will have his backing against either former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who are seeking the Democratic presidential nod.

Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Mac Brown said delegates will have an organizational meeting May 14 in Louisville.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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