Three Arkansas Republicans will garner much of the limelight for the state at the Republican National Convention with speaking slots, but 40 delegates are also in tow. We’ll be checking in with a handful of Arkansas delegates on the ground in Cleveland throughout this week.
KUAR will air live coverage of the convention this Monday through Thursday from 7-10 p.m. Tune in to Morning Edition from 6-9 a.m. for recaps and analysis of the night before and previews of the day to come.
The youngest delegate, Darren Ray Waddles, chairs the Arkansas Federation of College Republicans. The Mountain View resident is a delegate for Republican voter’s third pick, Marco Rubio, but still looks forward to sharing his perspective at the convention.
“This is exciting, especially at my age. I’m 22 years old and this is the opportunity of a lifetime, not only to participate but to be a representative voice for millennials and the Ozarks,” said Waddles before departing to Ohio. “It’s very special.”
The state’s delegates – supporting Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio – were awarded proportionally based on the March primary and are bound on the first vote. With 32.8 percent of the vote Trump took a plurality of delegates with 16, Cruz earned 15 delegates with 30.5 percent support, and Marco Rubio took the remaining 9 with 24.9 percent of the vote.
Waddles doesn’t doubt the outcome of a Trump nomination on the convention floor but he does have some apprehension about how the city of Cleveland will react.
“I’m not going to have any surprises on the floor. I know people will have their opinions but there’s no anxiety going into that. I already foresee what to expect on that,” he said. “However, with protests I do have some anxiety because we’ve seen this election cycle how protests have gone and they’ve made news coverage.”
Ohio is an open-carry state (like some law enforcement agencies contend Arkansas is) but the Cleveland police union has asked for the law to be suspended during the convention.
Following the killing of police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Stephen Loomis of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association told CNN the union sent a request to one-time presidential hopeful and current Ohio Governor John Kasich asking for a suspension of the law. Kasich has said he can’t “arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested.” The governor won’t be attending the convention.