Months after Donald Trump appeared to seal the Republican nomination for president, anti-Trump forces still have one last chance to force a vote on the party’s convention floor that would throw open the GOP contest again.
It’s a long shot, but by some counts they are remarkably close to getting past the first hurdle next week in Cleveland.
Mr. Trump’s intraparty foes, led by a group of rogue delegates, are waging an intense behind-the-scenes effort to push the Republican National Convention’s Rules Committee for a vote on freeing delegates to back whom they wish, rather than being bound to Mr. Trump.
The presumptive nominee’s team is fighting back just as vehemently, with an organized campaign of dozens of aides and volunteers. It’s a power struggle that has prompted threats of reprisals and left many Republicans anxious that it could hurt the party’s prospects in November.
The anti-Trump camp needs the backing of 28, or one-quarter, of the 112 Convention Rules Committee members, in order to place the issue before the full convention. A Wall Street Journal survey suggests it could be close.
In interviews, 20 members said they are willing to consider allowing delegates to be unbound, while 59 support Mr. Trump. The other 33 panelists couldn’t be reached or did not respond to repeated messages.
Others counting votes have their own tallies. Internal surveys of the Rules Committee conducted by RNC member Randy Evans of Georgia, who is whipping votes trying to help Mr. Trump fend off the insurrection, found at least 18 committee members open to voting to unbind. The Trump campaign’s count shows about 15 leaning toward the so-called conscience clause, according to people familiar with the campaign.
Kendal Unruh, a Colorado schoolteacher on the committee leading part of the anti-Trump movement, said she has private commitments from more than 30 committee members, but that many aren’t willing to admit so publicly.