An open letter to Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus began with, "Don't freak out. We're trying to save you from yourself."
The letter written by local National Republican delegate, Sondra Ziegler hit three major points. "I just really felt the need to explain how I arrived at this spot of not being able to cast a vote for the presumptive nominee of our party."
The second point, "I'm not alone you know, 65 percent of our party does not want Donald Trump and so I joined an effort and that was the other purpose of my letter to explain what free the delegates is," Ziegler said. The third was to, "make sure that they know, they as delegates at the Republican National Convention can vote their conscience."
Another local delegate disagreed with Ziegler: "I think they need to be a little careful how far they take the rhetoric and how spirited it gets because if they did select another candidate to be the Republican party nominee they'd be essentially signing the death warrant of the Republican party," National Delegate Carl Tepper said.
Ziegler disagrees: "This is an effort to unify the party around someone that we can rally around together, that we can agree on, this is our standard bearer and that is not Donald Trump."
She believes the first step to unify the party is explaining to delegates that they aren't bound to Trump, but she doesn't want Chairman Priebus to view "Free the Delegates" as a hostile take over.
"The Republican Party has a long tradition of allowing delegates to vote their conscience, even if that means casting a ballot, a vote for someone other than what would be dictated by their states primary or caucus," Ziegler said.
"Again the Republican Party needs to decide whether we want be a secret organization or we want to be a political party and being a political party means you listen to the will of the voters," Tepper said. "The delegates need to respect that will. The voters have spoken loud and clear and I think you need to have some respect for the voters and your conscience is one thing, the decision of the people is another and perhaps you shouldn't have been a delegate if you feel that strongly about the whole process."
Although the idea of delegates selecting a different standard bearer is not unheard of, "a really famous example of multiple votes is the election of Abraham Lincoln. He was not the favorite going into that convention, he ended up besting two other rivals who later ended up serving in his cabinet," Ziegler said.
This year the Republican National Convention will be in Cleveland and is only a few weeks away. Both sides are standing firm in their beliefs.
"There might be a little uproar at the convention, it might make it more interesting, more exciting, but in the end it looks like Donald Trump's going to be the hands down nominee," Tepper said.
"Carl and I are great friends, we're going to go to convention together, we're going to have lots of fun, give each other hell, I'm sure were going to disagree on a lot of things, but hopefully we will have a new nominee that can unify the party," Ziegler said.
The letter to Chairman Priebus:
Open Letter to Reince Priebus from a Republican National Delegate:
Dear Chairman Priebus, don’t freak out. We Are Working to Save You From Yourself.
I am a wife and mother of three, a business owner, and a grassroots volunteer. I have been Vice Chairman of my county Republican Party and of my local Republican Women’s Club, and I am a first-time delegate to the Republican National Convention.
In the 2012 primary, like so many other Republicans, I was determined to help our Party nominate a candidate who could take the fight to Barack Obama, and articulate the cherished principles of our Party that have made America exceptional. Our liberty -- born in the heart of God – is the animating principle of our Republic, and the engine of our prosperity. Nothing this side of heaven is perfect. And I agreed with Sen. Phil Gramm when he used to say liberty is no exception. “Trouble is,” he would say, “it’s better than anything anybody’s ever figured out.” Indeed, all of human history is witness that free markets, smaller government, and individual liberty have done more good for more people than anything ever.
As many like-minded members of our Party, I believed that Newt Gingrich, not Mitt Romney, was the best standard-bearer of this message in the general election. So I did what many grassroots volunteers in our Party do in presidential primaries. I packed up the kids and my Mom, and went first to Iowa, and then to South Carolina to help run phone banks for a campaign that had little organization or money, and looking back, probably began as a promotional effort to sell books and speaking fees. I don’t think Newt ever dreamed he would have to run a real campaign with real staff. But alas, he found himself surging in the polls just ahead of Iowa.
When we arrived a few days after Thanksgiving 2011, the paid staff had just unlocked the door of the Des Moines headquarters. The primary in Iowa was going to be held January 3rd. Not a lot of time to organize. We were literally the only volunteers there except for a lady named Judy from Indiana who had arrived as a volunteer like us, and had been tapped to answer the phone and run the office. We went home for a few days at Christmas, and returned just a couple of days after to help work the final push.
As other volunteers started to pour in, we did the best we could, working 12 hours a day. I helped train new callers, create scripts, and compile “best hits” talking points based on the state of the race that day and what seemed to be resonating with voters. We signed people up to speak for Newt at their caucus meeting on yellow sticky notes. I spoke at a caucus meeting.
After Iowa, I was asked by our grassroots Newt team to run a phone bank in South Carolina. I packed up the kids, asked my Mom in Kentucky to meet us, and drove 22 hours to Greenville to work the two weeks prior to the South Carolina primary. Newt ended up winning it (thanks to a stellar performance at the presidential debate there where he took on the media for how it covers Republicans. It was a winning narrative.).
I went home to Lubbock and continued to work full-time as Newt’s National Volunteer Coordinator, an entirely volunteer position for our grassroots team in which I contacted and
coordinated volunteers to travel to the primary contests leading up to and including Super Tuesday. I was a stranger calling to ask them to go and stay entirely at their own expense with nothing to offer them but the glamorous work of phone banking and block walking to convince people to vote for Newt in those battleground contests.
When Newt lost the primary, I mourned.
And then, with the general election in the balance, I led a group of Republican Women from Lubbock to Cleveland, Ohio. We spent a week knocking on doors in rain gear for the Romney/Ryan ticket, as hurricane Sandy was blowing in on the east coast.
My point in all this is that anybody who wants to accuse me of being motivated by sour grapes can stuff it.
Mitt Romney was not my choice. But he is a talented businessman whose respect for others is evident. He believes in the power of free markets to “lift all boats.” He is a decent and honorable man - one my children can look up to.
This election, and this “presumptive nominee” are different. The question in this election is not if Republicans can get over the fact that their first choice didn’t win the primary. The question is if there are any boundaries to our Party at all. Does the Republican Party stand for anything? Or are we bound to allow 12 million people who aren’t even Republicans dictate what the Party now stands for and who its standard-bearer has to be? And are we also now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Trump Inc.?
That the majority of Republicans don’t want Donald Trump is a fact of the primary election, and also of recent polling. The vast majority of my constituents as a Republican National Delegate from Texas’ 19th Congressional District who have contacted me say they long for someone else to vote for.
Fortunately, the founders of our Party knew that we needed an escape hatch. That’s why we have delegates, not just a popular vote. An examination of the history of our Party and of legal precedent shows that the delegates to the Republican National Convention may cast a vote for a different candidate than the one dictated by their state’s Presidential Preference Primary or Caucus, when conscience, the good of the Party and our nation dictates they must. This is such a time.
My message to you Chairman Priebus is this: I understand the position you hold, and your belief that you are duty-bound to (nearly daily) embarrass yourself by attempting to embrace Donald Trump as the likely nominee of our Party.
But those of us who are delegates have a different role. Our Party rules say the delegates are the “highest authority” of the Convention. It is the delegates who choose our nominee. So along with other delegates, I am working to save you from yourself.
We are educating the delegates of the historical and legal precedents to vote their conscience, to give them a green light to do so. Our goal is to put forth as the Republican Nominee for President of the United States, someone who is an honorable and vigorous advocate of the blessings of
individual liberty, smaller government and free markets – someone who understands that it is only these principles that actually can make America great again. You can thank us later.
Sondra Ziegler, Lubbock, Texas
National Delegate – Place 1, Texas Congressional District 19