- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The Clark County Republican Party ended a chaotic weekend convention with arguments over delegate elections and its chairman stepping down.

Chairman Ed Williams announced his resignation in an email Saturday just as the convention at the Rio in Las Vegas was ending. Williams cited a shift in the party’s composition as a factor.

“Elections matter, and the new board very clearly had a different direction than I had,” Williams said. “The people that voted for me back in July - the party has shifted a bit. It didn’t make sense for me to continue in light of that.”

His email did not mention an ethics complaint filed by a former rival. Convention chairman Rob Tyree ran against Williams last year. He accused Williams of receiving 40,000 Caesars Reward Credits as part of the contract to hold the convention at the Rio.

A disciplinary committee was to review the complaint. By stepping down, Williams effectively put an end to the inquiry.

Williams’ resignation did not overshadow the hundreds who turned out to support front-runner Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Officials for both campaigns were also there to closely observe the process surrounding delegate election.

Clark County is allowed to send about 2,000 delegates to the state convention, which is scheduled for May 14 at the Reno Events Center. Williams said any registered Republican who applied to be a delegate by the end of the county convention was allowed to be one.

Ryan Hamilton, Cruz’s deputy campaign director for Nevada, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal (https://bit.ly/1SIgLrN) there are too many unknowns if delegates can nominate others to attend the state convention simply by submitting forms. For example, there is no way to know if nominees ever attended precinct-level meetings. There has been debate about whether attending those meetings should affect eligibility.

“I’m not saying there’s anything nefarious,” Hamilton said. “I’m saying the process leaves a lot to be desired.”

The Clark County GOP seated 1,209 delegates in all.

Jimmy Stracner, the Trump campaign’s western regional political director, said the rules clearly permit delegates to be appointed if they weren’t at their precinct meeting. He said the outcome of the convention benefited Trump.

“It speaks to the quality of our organization,” he said. “It speaks to the support Mr. Trump has in Nevada.”

Delegates are not required to report their candidate preference at the convention. Still, campaigns are working to get their supporters to the convention because the political makeup of the delegate body could have repercussions down the road.

If a large number of Trump supporters are elected as Nevada’s delegates to the national convention, they could help him if he doesn’t score a majority in the first round of voting and becomes unbound to caucus results.

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