By Kyle Cheney
03/22/16 02:39 PM EDT
Updated 03/22/16 04:29 PM EDT
The gamesmanship for Republican national convention delegates has begun — in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In an unusual move, the chairman of the Virgin Islands GOP announced the disqualification of all six delegates elected on March 10 to represent the territory in Cleveland. He cited a party rule that requires elected delegates to accept their position in writing.
All six of those delegates had been elected by local Republicans but had not pledged support to a primary candidate.
Now, party leaders say they're being replaced by six alternates. Of the alternates, one supports Ted Cruz, one supports Donald Trump and two support Marco Rubio. The last two are uncommitted.
U.S. Virgin Islands GOP Chairman John Canegata defended his actions in a statement: “Rule 11 automatically disqualifies and strikes from the Virgin Islands delegation to the Republican National Convention anyone who fails to comply with party rules,” he said. “The party rules commanded me to inform the Republican National Committee of this automatic action, which I did in a letter to chairman Reince Priebus.”
Among the delegates ejected by the party are John Yob – a former adviser to Rand Paul, who recently authored “Chaos,” a book about the process behind a contested convention. His wife Erica Yob was also removed.
According to a Republican familiar with Virgin Islands politics, the effort to invalidate all six delegates is rooted in a dispute between Yob and Virgin Islands Republican party members over his efforts to inject himself into local politics. Yob recently moved to the Islands from Michigan.
But the shake-up may not happen without a fight. In a statement, Yob said Canegata misapplied the rules, which give elected delegates five days to confirm their election once the vote March 10 vote is certified. But that certification hasn't happened yet because several ballots are still being disputed.
"We have not yet been notified following the certification, and therefore we will all still be delegates pending the official certification of the certification committee," Yob said. "We are confident we will be properly certified by the certification committee."
In his book, Yob talked about the leverage the U.S. Virgin Islands could gain at the convention by sending unpledged delegates.
"It would be a tremendous advantage to the Virgin Islands to elect a majority of its delegates as unaffiliated, and give the territory significant relevance at the national convention. If the delegates they elect are bound to a particular candidate, that would give the Virgin Islands delegation much less authority in committee assignments, ballot access, and of course the vote for President on the floor," he wrote.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/03/trump-ted-cruz-virgin-islands-221102#ixzz43gl8U6HH