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Local Republicans Head To Cleveland

Escambia County Republican Executive Committee

A group of Republicans from Northwest Florida are packing their bags and heading to Cleveland for next week’s Republican National Convention. The convention gets going on Monday and, for the first time in awhile, nobody really knows what to expect.

Martin Simmons, the Republican Party Chairman for Florida Congressional District One will be going to his second Republican convention. He was in Tampa for the 2012 event that nominated Mitt Romney and says, for the most part, that was a pretty well scripted event. "Except for Clint Eastwood last time, it was scripted except for that!" Simmons says he has heard from his sources in the party that we can expect "an off the charts show."

What kind of show remains to be seen. Dorothy Davis is Chairman of the Republican Party of Escambia County and will be attending her first convention. "There are a lot of activities. We just got the schedule." Davis will be attending with her husband and many other familiar faces. "We have a lot of people who we know who are going to be with us. We are part of the Northwest Florida Delegation which is going to be fantastic."

As a retired military member, Davis says she was also supposed to attend the 2012 convention in Tampa as part of the security detail, but Hurricane Isaac put an end to those plans. This year she’s looking forward to hearing the speeches from fellow Republicans. "This is how people make their careers, from speaking at the convention. You're part of history, and that's why it's so exciting to be there."

And while the rest of the country is watching on TV the delegates will be doing some work on the floor. Martin Simmons says those chores are somewhat limited. "My function, first and foremost, is to vote for the winner of the Florida primary, which was March 15, who is Donald Trump, on the first three ballots of however many there will be. Now, in reality, there won't be three ballots, there will only be one. And, in reality, the 99 of us won't actually take a piece of paper and pencil and mark a ballot. Our state chairman is also our delegation chairman and he will simply say that all of Florida's 99 delegates are voting for Donald Trump."

Simmons says if there are changes from the rules or platform committees, then each delegate will have to vote by paper ballot. One change that is extremely unlikely is that vote for the eventual presidential candidate. He says the rules governing that vote are clear. "I'm one of the 35 or so people on the state executive board of the Republican Party of Florida. There was a unanimous vote, I was one of them, we made the rule that it's winner take all. We all vote for the winner of the primary."

That’s not to say there won’t be surprises during the four day affair. There have been promises of massive protests during the convention and police in Cleveland are preparing for the worst. Dorothy Davis says inside the convention center they need to concentrate on the work at hand. "We need to make the right decisions and that's why we're there." Davis says there are concerns about safety. "We expect some riots. In these times you don't know what to expect."

The Republican National Convention begins Monday morning at in Cleveland, Ohio. Among the speakers listed are Florida Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, as well as Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and many other included a couple of Teds: Cruz and Nugent. 

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.