How Does North Dakota's Republican Convention Work? It's Strange, But It Could Have A Big Effect On The Party

GASCOYNE, ND - OCTOBER 14: Miles of unused pipe, prepared for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, sit in a lot on October 14, 2014 outside Gascoyne, North Dakota. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Source: Andrew Burton/Getty Images News/Getty Images

One of the biggest questions this election cycle is whether or not the Republican establishment will allow Donald Trump to be the party's nominee for president, even if he's racking up the votes. Well, North Dakota is relatively unique: Its 28 delegates will not be bound by the desires of local voters. So, how does North Dakota's Republican convention work exactly?

Well, the Roughrider State will not be using a caucus, or even a primary vote, to determine how to allocate the state's delegates. Rather, delegates from the state will, in all likelihood, be free to support whichever candidate they think is best at the party's national convention in Cleveland, Ohio. In other words, they are "free to vote their conscience on all balloting,” rather than be technically bound to any North Dakota voters.

North Dakota is one of six states or territories who will not be using the will of the people to determine delegate allotments. Colorado, Wyoming, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa are the others. Instead, the convention will select delegates who will attend the national convention — and choose to support whichever candidate they desire. North Dakota GOP Executive Director Roz Leighton defended the move and told the Grand Forks Herald, “We saw a lot of pushback about not having a caucus, so I think the national attention we’re getting for our unbound delegates is a really great thing in showing the people of North Dakota that we do have a voice and we do have a vote in the process, and it’s maybe even more of a role than they originally thought."

The state, and its delegates, could play an important role in blocking "Tiny Hands" Trump's run for the White House. Delegates have not yet been selected, but according to the Bismarck Tribune, the deadline to apply to be a GOP delegate is fast approaching. March 28 will be the final day to apply for consideration by the state GOP party. Some delegates are already confirmed: state party bigwigs Curly Haugland, Sandy Boehler, and Kelly Armstrong. The additional 25 delegates will be chosen during the state's nominating conference in Fargo from April 1-3.

While the general rules of the convention won't be set until the beginning of the process in Cleveland this summer, who North Dakota Republicans chose to represent the will of the people of the Roughrider State could have a major hand in determining not only the Republican presidential nominee, but the future of the party. Until the Republican National Committee's Convention in July, though, figuring out who the state's 28 delegates are likely to throw their weight behind for the presidential nomination is anyone's guess.

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