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Of Minnesota's 38 delegates, eight will vote for Trump

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Donald Trump
Minnesota's 38 delegates to the Republican National Convention are in Cleveland for Monday night's opening session. It's not a delegation with a lot of enthusiasm for the GOP's presumptive nominee, Donald Trump.
Bryan Thomas | Getty Images

Minnesota's 38 delegates to the Republican National Convention are in Cleveland for Monday night's opening session.

Only eight delegate votes will go to Donald Trump — some of them with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.

Shakopee's Joe Ditto is a Trump delegate. But don't let that fool you. He's no Trump fan, particularly because of the candidate's hardline stances on immigration and foreign trade.

"When there were 17 candidates, Rand Paul was my first choice, Walker was my second choice and Cruz was my third choice. Trump was 16," Ditto said.

Ditto is bound by state party rules to vote for Trump on the first and maybe only nomination ballot because of how caucus results in his congressional district shook out. The medical device engineering manager intends to follow through.

"When I started this contest it wasn't going to be a Trump coronation," he said. "There was actually a contest. And I thought I'd have a chance to make positive change in the world. Since then, a lot of people are relying on me to go there and do what I said I was going to do, so I don't want to let anybody down."

Minnesota was one of Trump's weakest states in the primary season. The business mogul finished third in the March precinct caucuses. More of the state's delegates are aligned with caucus winner Marco Rubio and runner-up Ted Cruz, both senators who suspended their presidential bids months ago.

Some of those bound to Trump on the first ballot say they'd vote a different way if allowed or if Trump surprisingly doesn't clinch it on the first try.

That's not the case with Sheri Auclair. She's full-square behind Trump. Auclair likes that he's an outsider, that he says what's on his mind and that he has a strong business background.

In Cleveland and beyond, Auclair says she'll be lobbying Trump skeptics to get on board.

"Not voting for Trump is putting Clinton in the White House and the Supreme Court justices are her pick," Auclair said,  "I don't care if you have to plug your nose and vote for Mr. Trump. Then go ahead and plug your nose and vote for him because there is too much at stake out there."

Becoming a national delegate is no easy task. Auclair got passed over when she ran for a slot in the 3rd Congressional District. She had better luck winning an at-large position at the state Republican convention in May. 

Ditto figures he put 80 hours and hundreds of his own dollars into being elected at a congressional district convention. He opted to drive to Cleveland with others in the delegation to save money.

Boutique clothing store owner Jennifer Carnahan is a first-timer to a national convention. She's a delegate for Rubio, whose sole state win was Minnesota. But she's ready to get behind Trump this fall. 

Jennifer Carnahan
Jennifer Carnahan, of Minneapolis, is a delegate pledged to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Brian Bakst | MPR News

"I don't agree with everything about Donald Trump. I think he says a lot of things that he shouldn't say. I think he has a huge ego," Carnahan said, "He's obviously very self-absorbed. However, he is a businessman. He's achieved  a lot of success and I think he's smart enough to know what he doesn't know and I think he'll surround himself with people who do know how to navigate the system in Washington, D.C."

Carnahan says it's important that the party start coming together after a divisive nominating season. That's why she's bothered by reports of convention holdouts.

"I would like to see people that I've looked up to and admired in the Republican Party, and I'm actually a little concerned and disappointed that some of them might not be there," she said.

She won't get to see Rubio. He is skipping the convention along with other big GOP names, like 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and both Presidents Bush.

Among Minnesota Republicans, Congressmen John Kline and Erik Paulsen are staying home. Aides to both note neither went to the national convention four years ago either. 

Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt will be there as a Rubio delegate. 

6th District Representative Tom Emmer is headed to Cleveland, too.

Emmer chief of staff David Fitzsimmons, a delegate in his own right, said the congressman sees symbolic value in being present.

"We're going to officially have a nominee so I think Congressman Emmer feels it's very important to help make sure we come out as a united party after that," said Fitzsimmons.

It's anyone's guess if Republicans will find that harmony this week or if the convention will expose more fractures as Trump officially takes the GOP reins.

MPR News reporters Brian Bakst and Mark Zdechlik are in Cleveland to keep track of the Minnesota presence at the convention. Check out the MPR News 2016 elections page for their dispatches.