- Associated Press - Saturday, May 14, 2016

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald urged delegates at the state GOP convention Saturday to put their fractured past behind them and unite behind Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to keep Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton out of the White House.

Trump backers feared some who opposed the billionaire when he won Nevada’s caucuses in February would try to deny him all his delegates to the national convention.

But with the majority of the 1,086 state delegates chanting “Trump, Trump, Trump,” they carried a series of key early votes at the state convention in Reno on Saturday where the single most popular theme was “anyone but Hillary.”

The biggest surprise in a day missing the nasty floor fights of past conventions may have come when three different races for alternate delegate slots to the national convention in Cleveland in July ended in ties and had to be settled by a tradition unique to Nevada - drawing cards.

“It wasn’t so long ago that we didn’t shine so bright,” McDonald said in his opening remarks referencing past infighting between the Nevada GOP’s staunch conservative and more moderate wings.

“We had a division and it was well known, well documented,” he said during the daylong event at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. “We come together today to unite - unite behind our presumptive candidate. … It does not happen with selfish agendas.”

Nevada will send 30 delegates to the national convention based on the state’s Feb. 23 caucuses. Trump had already locked up 14 delegate votes, but his opponents subsequently ended their campaigns and released their delegates to vote for whomever they please - seven who had been dedicated to Marco Rubio, six for Ted Cruz, two for Ben Carson and one for John Kasich.

Nevada GOP National Committeewoman Diana Orrock of Clark County, who endorsed Trump last fall, was re-elected with 792 votes. Elko County GOP chairman Lee Hoffman won the race for national committeeman with 531 votes. He admitted he didn’t initially support the former reality TV star but says he now is firmly on the Trump train.

“Personally, I liked Scott Walker, then Ben Carson, then Ted Cruz,” said Hoffman, who was appointed by the state GOP executive committee to fill the open national committeeman slot on an interim basis in 2014.

“My current favorite is anybody but Hillary,” Hoffman said to cheers. “While Mr. Trump was not my first choice, he is going to be our nominee, and I support him 101 percent.”

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval announced his support for Kasich after the Nevada caucuses and initially withheld his support for Trump before recently concluding he would support him. But U.S. Sen. Dean Heller is among other prominent Republicans who have suggested they may cast their vote for “none of the above.”

The Trump campaign issued a slate of preferred delegates to elect to the national convention and, during a series of votes on convention rules, held up a green “Yes” sign or a red “No” sign to signal which way Trump backers should vote.

Their side won all of those votes, including refusing to seat two Washoe County Republicans - State Assemblyman Ira Hansen and County Commissioner Jeanne Herman - who state party officials said were handing out their own slate of candidates that suggested Trump was supporting them.

The majority also voted the way the Trump crew preferred in agreeing to place limits on the size of their party platform so as to appeal to a broader base of voters in November.

Washoe County delegate Tom Dickman proposed striking the rules that were intended to streamline the platform.

“Our country is in bad shape. We all have a lot of concerns. Limiting the platform is a bad idea,” Dickman said.

But fellow Washoe County delegate Mark Deeter disagreed.

“We are going to have to reach out to a lot of independents,” Deeter said. “Every time you add something to the list, it’s really a limitation. We should be really general and precise and to the point. That’s the bottom line to winning the White House.”

A vote on the platform was put off until Sunday. The proposed planks presented to delegates Saturday evening were similar to those included in the past, including defending the Second Amendment’s “God given right” to bear arms, affirming the “sanctity of life” beginning at conception while opposing government funding of organizations that advocate for, or provide, abortions.

It also opposes amnesty for those who enter the U.S. illegally, opposes same-day voter registration and supports requiring proof of citizenship and a valid photo ID when voting, and urges the federal government to transfer all U.S. property in Nevada to the state unless federal use of the land is constitutionally authorized.

Rob Tyree, the convention’s budget chairman, had to pull out a sealed deck of cards and bust it open at the end of the day to settle the ties in the races for alternate delegate positions not once, but three times.

The most unusual was a race for an at-large slot, which Washoe County delegate Mike Weber won when he drew a queen of hearts that bettered Washoe County delegate Harriet Newman’s seven of clubs. Newman initially offered to withdraw, explaining that she can’t touch cards because of a past gambling addiction.

But Tyree allowed another delegate, Staci Grunewald of Clark County, to draw the card for her.


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