Washington state held its Republican delegate convention on Saturday, and the politically active in the Evergreen State used their time in the spotlight to send a strong message to the GOP — don't elect Donald Trump. Despite his campaign suspension nearly a month ago, Ted Cruz dominated in the Washington delegate selection, with his loyalists winning 40 of the state's 41 delegate spots, leaving only one measly delegate for the presumptive Republican nominee. Although the statewide primary won't be held until Tuesday, the delegates took this chance to make their own preferences known, likely in the hopes of keeping the state out of Trump's hands (though they're bound to whoever the state votes for). So, the mini-coup might not matter at the national convention, but it could mean a lot of trouble for Trump in the general election.
The delegate rebellion at the Washington state convention is the latest in a series of signs that show how Trump is splintering the GOP. Cruz has no viability for the nomination, but he is still winning delegates over Trump. Even Trump's Washington state campaign chairman, State Senator Don Benton, couldn't secure a spot to the national convention, meaning that the regional support for Trump is so weak that he can't even get anyone elected on a local level. Former state GOP chairman Chris Vance, who is currently running for U.S. Senate, expressed frustration over Republicans' inability to support Trump that many seem to share within the Washington state Republican Party, and within the national party, too. “Do you think I enjoy this? Not supporting the nominee? It’s unpleasant,” said Vance.
Despite their insistence on avoiding Trump as the nominee, it might not matter after Tuesday's primary. Washington delegates are bound to vote for the statewide primary winner, and because it's so unlikely that Cruz will win, the Cruz loyalist delegates know that they are essentially wasting their time. If Trump wins the statewide primary on Tuesday, his defeat at the state delegate convention will be irrelevant because the delegates will still have to vote for Trump at the national convention. Yet the delegates seem intent on conveying their message to the people of Washington and the GOP at large, and doing all they can to prevent Trump's nomination.
In the big picture, Washington state doesn't hold a lot of sway for Trump anyway. It's a safe Democrat state that hasn't voted Republican since 1984, and that seems unlikely to change considering how little support Trump has garnered there so far.
However, the splintering of the party in Washington is just a symptom of a national trend that shows a clear fracture within the GOP — those who align with Trump and those who don't. In the general election, that could mean a decisive loss for Trump, and another four years out of power for the Republican Party.