County Republicans attend national convention in Ohio
— Kevin Hornberger (R-Cecil) has served as a delegate in the Maryland House of Delegates for the past two years, but this week he’s serving as a delegate of a different sort: one to the Republican National Convention.
Hornberger and Cecil County Republican Central Committee President Bill Harris are in Ohio, where the convention is being held at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Running through
Thursday, the convention serves as a time for party leaders to strategize for the coming election, complete the democratic process to formally nominate party presidential candidate Donald Trump and his vice presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and reach widespread audiences with their nominees’ message.
“For me, it’s exciting to meet Republicans out of the state, because it’s kind of lonely to be a Republican in Maryland,” Hornberger said with a laugh.
“There’s a great sense of camaraderie in knowing the same effort is going on in every state to help get our candidate elected to the presidency,” Harris added, noting they’re staying in the same hotel as delegates from Nebraska and Florida. “When you get down to it, their thoughts are similar to ours, and the local issues are largely the same as well.”
While Hornberger and Harris were enjoying their first days in Cleveland, it was not an easy journey to get to the
convention. During the April primary, Hornberger ran as a delegate supporter for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the First Congressional District — and was at a disadvantage when Rubio suspended his campaign before the Maryland primary — while Harris ran an at-large bid. Both were soundly defeated by delegates who pledged their support to Trump.
Undeterred, Hornberger and Harris attended the Republican spring convention in Annapolis, where they were able to obtain some of the few slots held by the state party independent of the primary election.
“Trump wasn’t my first choice, but it’s the choice of the people,” Harris said. “The fact is that most states elected Trump, so the great majority of delegates on the convention floor are his supporters.”
Hornberger said he was excited to see the new influx in the Republican Party due to Trump’s candidacy.
“There’s a tectonic shift in the party right now,” he said. “Most of the people on the floor and most of the people speaking at the convention are new faces, regular people who want change in their leadership and a new outside voice. It’s a new focal point for the party.”
While he did not initially support Trump, Harris said that the gregarious businessman has won him over through his management of his campaign.
“Donald Trump has selected many of our first choices to be key members of his team and future members of his administration, so our comfort level has risen and added to our excitement about the candidate,” he said. “I dare say that Newt Gringrich may wind up the leader of a transition team and possibly be chief of staff after Trump wins the White House.”
Harris also said he thought that Pence is “an absolutely excellent pick” for vice president.
“Our first candidate is a bit of maverick, but then he adds a good solid, conservative Christian who has accomplished a lot in a long career and represents our values,” he said.
Hornberger said the pick, announced last week, answered a few of his remaining questions about Trump’s campaign.
“My question before his announcement was, ‘Is he going to pick a known congressman or a governor?’ In the end, he picked both with Pence,” he said.
The national convention, which usually features pomp and circumstance aplenty, did carry some of the drama that drove much of the primary campaign season. On Monday night, several state delegations attempted to force a roll call vote on the convention floor over the convention’s rules. While a rather unimportant move this week, it was headed by the Colorado delegation as a protest against party rules meant to impact future elections and embarrass the Trump campaign if successful.
While he didn’t agree with their tactic, Hornberger said the protest represents “the beauty of this process where each state has a different way of doing things.”
Meanwhile, Hornberger and Harris have been enjoying the sights and scenes of the convention’s location in Cleveland. On Sunday night, they were among the more than 1,000 delegates who toured the city’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and enjoyed local food and beer vendors.
On Monday, Harris said he spent time walking the Quicken Loans Arena, talking with other Republicans and stopping to watch TV interviews with party leaders.
“Seeing those live interviews adds a lot of flavor to the atmosphere,” he said. “I also spent some time talking with Dr. Ben Carson.”
Hornberger said he enjoyed hearing many of the speeches throughout the day, even those not by primetime speakers.
“I’m getting the stump speeches, but I’m seeing everything without the filter that media coverage would have,” he said. “Each speaker brings a unique viewpoint, but I especially like hearing from the local people about why they support Trump.”
While at the convention, Hornberger and Harris said they are cognizant that they represent the constituents of Cecil County and are working to advance their concerns.
“We’re getting email and Facebook messages from constituents about issues they want us to be discussing in Cleveland,” Hornberger said. “The big issues will be safety here and abroad, dealing with the immigration, decreasing the national debt and improving the economy. Our foreign house and our domestic house are not in order right now.”
Harris agreed and said those issues and more will likely be on the minds of voters in November.
“Americans are people who don’t like to lose, and with everything that’s been going on in recent months from the shootings of police officers to terrorism, we’ve been losing a lot,” he said. “People will be thinking about how bad we’ve been beaten on and they’ll think about who we need to help turn things around.”
Delegate Kevin Hornberger, third from left, is a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Ohio this week.
A screenshot of the Pokemon Go game shows a Pidgey outside of the Elkton branch of the Cecil County Public Library.
Delegate Kevin Hornberger (R-Cecil) and Cecil County Republican Central Committee President Bill Harris are attending the Republican National Convention this week in Ohio.