- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan’s role in selecting a GOP presidential nominee could be influenced by the outcome of this week’s state Republican Party convention, where delegates who will help choose a nominee at the national convention will be selected.

Businessman Donald Trump beat Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the state’s March primary election, but political experts say Michigan’s convention Friday and Saturday may be particularly intense this year with plenty of debate within the party about the nominees.

“I guarantee there’s gonna be some yelling and screaming at some point,” said Dave Doyle, former chair of the Michigan Republican Party. “Hopefully no fistfights.”

A guide to understanding the upcoming convention:

WHO ARE DELEGATES AND WHAT THEY DO?

At the state convention, people will be elected to be among the 59 state delegates to vote in the Republican National Convention this summer in Cleveland.

Delegates pledged to one of three candidates who drew enough support in the primary are selected proportional to the number of votes each received. So Trump, who won by about 12 percentage points, collected 25 delegates and Cruz and Kasich got 17 each.

Most of Michigan’s national delegates will be elected from party members voted to be state delegates during earlier county conventions.

Three delegates and three alternate delegates will be elected this weekend from each of the state’s 14 congressional districts. Alternates vote at the national convention only if the other delegates from their districts cannot attend. The remaining 17 delegates - known as “at-large delegates” - could be any registered Michigan voter who submits a presidential preference form to the Michigan Republican Party before 11 p.m. on April 8.

But the process could be more convoluted than usual. The candidates’ campaigns will likely want to avoid electing uncommitted voters, to reduce the chance of waning delegate support if the candidate a delegate was initially pledged to doesn’t win a majority during the first vote at the national convention.

“You really haven’t had this battle in quite a while … usually by the time we get around to selecting the delegates you already know who the nominee is,” said Doyle. “That’s not the case this time.”

HOW ARE THEY SELECTED?

The would-be delegates from the state’s 14 congressional districts will pledge their initial support for Trump, Cruz or Kasich on Friday evening. After that pledge binds them to a candidate, convention members vote on who will be the state’s 59 delegates. The at-large delegates are to be announced Saturday, though delegates must be finalized by the RNC.

Generally, each state gets 10 at-large delegates, but Michigan gets more for having a Republican governor and a GOP-controlled state Legislature.

Three delegates are predetermined - the party Chairman Ronna Romney McDaniel, National Committeeman Dave Agema and National Committeewoman Kathy Berden.

GOP spokeswoman Sarah Anderson said it’s unclear whether Gov. Rick Snyder will be a delegate. That could be determined this weekend.

WHAT HAPPENS IF NO CANDIDATE HAS ENOUGH DELEGATES?

The convention rules mean those pledging to vote for a given candidate in the first round at the National Convention might vote for a different person if their initial selection doesn’t receive enough votes. That could open the possibility for a contested convention, in which Michigan delegates are no longer obligated to vote for the person they first selected - a rarity in convention histories.

If Trump, Cruz or Kasich doesn’t win a majority of the votes during the national convention’s first round, that gives delegates a chance to cast a second vote. The convention will hold as many votes as necessary until there’s a majority.

John Truscott, a former state delegate who now has the public relations firm Truscott Rossman, said when the presidential campaign began he didn’t think a contested or brokered convention was a possibility.

“It’s a pretty exciting time; this one could be a little more interesting than normal,” he said. “You could be part of making history and have a story that not many people have.”


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