CLEVELAND — Two of Shelby County’s more outspoken Republi
A screen capture of the Tennessee delegation during Tuesday night's roll call that nominated Donald Trump
cans — well, make that three; no, four — were engaged Tuesday night during a behind-the-scenes drama during the runup to the roll call of states that, ultimately, confirmed Donald J. Trump as this year’s Republican presidential nominee.
The two most directly involved were Mick Wright of Bartlett, a delegate for Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the GOP runner-up, and Terry Roland of Millington, a Trump delegate. Each had a surrogate of sorts who got into the act — more or less as backup.
Those two were Charlotte Bergman of Memphis, who, like Roland, is a Trump delegate, and Lynn Moss, also of Memphis, a Cruz delegate.
Wright, it will be remembered, was an advocate of the failed floor effort on Monday, the convention’s first day, to force a roll-call vote on the convention rules. He was widely quoted as saying thue Cruz forces were robbed when the effort was finally declared unsuccessful by the last of several rotating temporary convention chairs who had made contradictory rulings.
For his part, Roland, the Shelby County Commission chair, had been quoted as calling the Cruz insurgents “whiners.”
That was it until Tuesday night when Bergman and others asked Wright to move from a seat in the delegation closest to the delegation’s floor microphone and reserved, said Bergman, for state Rep. Mae Beavers, the delegation chair. Wright declined, perhaps unaware of any prior arrangement for Beavers to occupy the seat. According to those who were there, including both Bergman and Moss, Wright wanted to stay close to the mike to be sure Cruz’s votes were announced correctly when the time came for Tennessee to announce its totals to the convention (and the nation).
At some point, Roland also urged that Wright take a seat somewhere else. That was when Wright shot a quick video of Roland with his smart phone, which he later posted on his Facebook page with a text contending he was being “bullied” and prevented from expressing his conscience.**(This was an echo of the rules change desired by the dissidents who on Monday had sought the roll-call vote on the convention’s rules package.)
Eventually, Wright was persuaded to take a seat elsewhere, Beavers was allowed to take the seat nearest the mike, and, when Tennessee’s time came to report its vote, both Trump’s winning primary totals and Cruz’s second-place totals were given accurately.
All that was a preamble to Cruz’s prime-time convention speech scheduled for Wednesday night, at which the Texas Senator was expected to say something close to an endorsement of erstwhile nemesis Trump, who had vilified him and whom he had vilified as well during their bitter primary-season rivalry. [UPDATE: Cruz would "congratulate" Trump in his speech and conspicuously failed to endorse him, incurring a virus of boos for his pains.]
And, though Roland for one would call the dustup “no big deal,” the continued buzz in the Tennessee delegation over Tuesday night’s contretemps over the seat nearest the floor mike was a corollary of sorts of the continuing tension and suspense among delegates trying to anticipate whatever it was that Cruz would say.
The video Wright took of Roland Tuesday night was apparently deleted later, along with Wright’s accompanying text (although other posts of his condemning what he saw as unfair manipulation by convention managers remained).
Here, for the record, was the text that originally was posted with the now missing video:
“*A day after binding delegates to a candidate and preventing us from having a recorded vote on the rules, the Tennessee delegation wanted to hand all our votes to Donald Trump and prevent anyone from objecting. For the second day in a row, they wanted to move me out of range for voicing an objection. This video is proof both that the RNC was asked to rule on their plan and that I was being bullied out of my seat again. This is not unity; this is not how you win people over to your side.”