The Republican National Convention kicks off Monday in Cleveland, and North Carolina has the sixth largest delegation in the country.
Add in the alternate delegates, state GOP staffers, spouses and other guests, and the group totals 300 people. Here’s what you need to know about the delegation:
How were the delegates selected? Of North Carolina’s 72 delegates, 39 were elected at GOP meetings held in each of the state’s 13 congressional districts. Another 30 were elected at the state Republican convention in May, where a committee developed a slate from people who applied to represent North Carolina. The list includes state legislators, party donors, and county-level party leaders. Some people became delegates automatically because of the leadership role they hold in the N.C. Republican Party, such as the party’s chairman, former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes of Concord.
Why are so many of the delegates supporters of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz? While presumptive nominee Donald Trump won 29 delegates in North Carolina’s March primary and Cruz won 27, 38 of the state’s delegates listed Cruz as their preferred candidate when they applied to serve. That’s in part because many of the delegates were elected at congressional district conventions in April, when the Cruz campaign was pushing for its supporters to serve as delegates. Back then, a contested convention appeared possible in which no candidate would receive the 1,237 votes needed to win on the first ballot. And if the nominating process went to a second ballot, the Cruz supporters would have had the freedom to vote for him.
Can Trump’s delegates vote for someone else? No. The N.C. Republican Party will assign each delegate to a candidate so the numbers match the primary results. Anyone who doesn’t vote for their assigned candidate will face a $10,000 fine and is banned for holding elected office in the party for 10 years.
Keith Kidwell, a Cruz delegate from Beaufort County, said Monday that he supports the system. “I’ve come to accept the fact that America has voiced her opinion,” Kidwell said, wearing a “Make American Great Again” hat. “It’s not up to the delegates to come up here and circumvent the system that was set up. Trump got 1,237 (votes). Trump should be the nominee.”
Will delegates still vote for candidates who dropped out months ago? Yes. The North Carolina delegation will include votes for Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Even though Cruz is no longer a contender, Cruz delegate Larry Herwig of Beaufort County wore the senator’s campaign hat on Monday.
“That’s my job and I want everybody in here to know that,” he said.
North Carolina has the 9th largest population in the country. Why does it have the 6th largest number of delegates? The Republican National Committee uses a number of factors to allocate delegates, and North Carolina received extra delegates this year because of the party’s strength in the state: The GOP controls the governor’s mansion, both U.S. Senate seats and both chambers of the state legislature.