Despite Efforts to Free Delegates, Lonegan Will Back Trump if he is Nominee

Steve Lonegan was the NJ chairman of Cruz's campaign.

Steve Lonegan was the NJ chairman of Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign.

Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan has become one of the leaders of the Republican movement aimed at challenging businessman Donald Trump’s chances of becoming the eventual Republican presidential nominee. Lonegan’s objective is to get the rules committee—which meets on Thursday—to change the rules ahead of the convention in order to allow delegates to vote on the first ballot as they wish instead of with the winner of their state primary.

“I have become one of the leaders of the movement to free the delegates and allow them to vote their conscious and choose the best candidate to beat Hillary Clinton,” Lonegan said. “There are a lot of delegates out there who are very concerned with Donald Trump’s conduct and statements.”

However, while Lonegan has been pushing to unbind delegates, the Republican said he—and the Courageous Conservatives PAC currently pushing the movement to free delegates—has no interest in voting for a third party candidate like Libertarian Gary Johnson in November.

“We intend to support the entire Republican ticket. Ultimately it is going to be harder to beat Hillary Clinton with Donald Trump, but if that is what we are stuck with we will do our best,” Lonegan said. “Our organization will not participate in the support of a third party candidate. That is only guaranteed to undermine the Republican Party. We are going to do our best to make sure we nominate the best candidate to beat Hillary Clinton and that is not Donald Trump.”

For Lonegan, the move to unpledge delegates has nothing to do with undermining voters. He said that many of the votes cast for Trump in the primaries did not come from members of the Republican Party.

“Delegates are individuals and, ultimately, they are there to represent the entire Republican Party. They are not there to support the 25 percent or so who voted for Trump in the primary which is very much the minority of the Republican Party,” Lonegan said. “They are not there to represent the Democrats who voted in open primaries or, for that matter, the neo-Nazis and skinheads who came and voted in open primaries.”

According to Lonegan, the GOP is not a “majority rule democratic party.”

“It is a republican representative form of government just like our United States government. This isn’t about the will of the people. It is about what is best for a private organization who represents delegates who represent the entire Republican Party, not just Donald Trump’s minority vote,” Lonegan said.

Lonegan said that his organization is not officially endorsing any candidate in the movement to oust Trump. Instead, he said that he hopes Republicans who are displeased with the presumptive nominee will come forward and make themselves known as candidates.

“We are not running a campaign to run any candidate,” Lonegan said. “We would like to see a number of candidates put their names forward and take part in the convention.”

Lonegan said that there are delegates in New Jersey who wish to be unbound but that he is not at liberty to discuss which delegates hope to vote for candidates other than Trump. However, many of New Jersey’s delegates are in favor of Trump.

The former mayor said he knows that his efforts are an uphill battle.

“It is going to be a difficult effort,” Lonegan told PolitickerNJ. “I’d say it’s a 50-50 shot. But here is the thing: it shouldn’t be a 50-50 shot. We shouldn’t have any chance at all of winning. None. Yet there is a lot of talk about the fact that there are so many delegates who wish to be unbound. If Donald Trump had done his job of unifying the Republican Party, we wouldn’t exist as an organization. This movement wouldn’t be compelled to continue to grow.”

He continued: “I anticipate the RNC to use all their power to keep this convention under control and get the outcome they want. However, I think they should reconsider the outcome they want because they just might get it.”

Trump currently has 1,542 delegates bound to him on the first ballot. 1,237 is the number of delegates needed to win the Republican presidential nomination.

Lonegan will be in Cleveland from July 13 through 21.