URBANDALE -- An Iowa delegate to the Republican National Convention said Thursday he can't support Donald Trump for president and intends to urge others going to Cleveland to seek an alternative.
Cecil Stinemetz of Urbandale said that he thinks party rules don't bind delegates and nominating Trump will doom the party to losing to Hillary Clinton in the fall.
"People can vote their conscience, so I'm trying to let other people know that this is not over," Stinemetz said in an interview Thursday.
There has been a chorus of criticism of Trump since he said a federal district judge isn't being fair to him in a lawsuit involving Trump University because of the judge's Mexican heritage. Stinemetz, who supported Ted Cruz during the Iowa caucuses, said that although the controversy over the judge was the last straw for him, his misgivings over Trump have been longstanding.
"He says he's a conservative, but there's nothing to back it up," he said. Stinemetz adds now that Trump is the presumptive nominee, the media will come down hard on him and he will lose to Clinton in the fall.
The idea of denying Trump the nomination has been simmering in some quarters, even as party leaders are urging the rank and file to accept that Trump will be the GOP nominee and focus on beating Clinton.
Conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt has urged that the convention take steps to find a different nominee. A.J. Spiker, the former Iowa GOP chair who was an adviser to Rand Paul's presidential campaign, also tweeted this week that an alternative should step up and replace Trump.
"I think you're seeing a lot of people aren't willing to get in line behind Donald Trump," Spiker said.
However, the idea that anybody but Trump will be nominated was dismissed by Jeff Kaufmann, chair of the Iowa GOP.
"This is idle conversation. It is not going to happen," he said. "Donald Trump is our nominee and continuing the conversation is doing nothing but making a few people feel good."
He said such talk also endangers Iowa's first-in-the-nation status, and he largely laid the blame for it at the feet of Spiker.
"To have conversations and to do things that make Iowa look silly is not helpful to our state and our standing in the country," he said.
Critics of the move to dump Trump say doing so would thwart the will of the people. Trump, they say, bested 16 other candidates in a series of primaries and caucuses and earned the nomination.
Some other Iowa delegates to the convention, who also supported other candidates, said they think the rules make the situation clear.
David Chung of Cedar Rapids, who ran as a Cruz delegate and helped write the rules for the Iowa delegation, said the chair will report the result on the convention floor.
"There won't be any polling the delegation, the chair will cast the ballot," he said.
Kaufmann said the rules require the delegation to support Trump, unless another name is put into nomination. If that happens, he said, the delegation's vote will reflect the results of the Feb. 1 caucuses.
Stinemetz said, however, that delegates have the ultimate authority at the convention. He says the rules are widely misunderstood.
But state Rep. Sandy Salmon of Janesville, who also is a delegate, said it appears to her there is no choice. "Since he has the 1,237 votes he needs to be the nominee," she said.
Iowa has 30 delegates and 27 alternates going to the convention.
Bob Vander Plaats, who also is a national delegate and endorsed Cruz before the caucuses, said that he thinks the delegates have the ultimate say in how they vote. But in the end, he said, what happens in Cleveland is up to Trump.
"There’s a lot of things Donald Trump can do today to make sure Cleveland goes really well for him and his candidacy,” Vander Plaats said.
But he added the comment about the judge crossed the line, and if those types of things continue, "then I think Cleveland is up for grabs."