"Those 17 Rubio delegates are going to show up at the convention and vote for him on the first ballot so long as he's on the ballot," the chairman added.
That's the rub nobody is talking about if Rubio isn't on the first ballot for some reason due to not meeting a given threshhold in the national convention rules or for any number of other potential reasons some states, among them Minnesota, will allow his delegates to become free agents right away.
"Some states might require their Rubio delegates to vote for March Rubio even if he isn't on the first ballot, in which case that are effectively spoiled votes they are not going to be counted in the mix," Downey said.
"But right now, the way we deal with our delegates in Minnesota, if their candidate is not in the running, those delegates are unbound and they can vote for whoever they want even on the first ballot."
"Again, there's nothing unseemly about this, and of course, the national convention rules may be drafted in such a way as to affect what I just said. But right now, that's the way it is so let the politics begin!"
Brent Leatherwood, executive director of the Tennessee GOP said his state's delegates will not be free agents if for some reason their candidate's name isn't on the first ballot. They will cast their promised votes for their candidate anyway.
"We've been told by the RNC that the recording secretary will just tally the delegates for those candidates in nomination should this hypothetical occur," Leatherwood said.
On to Cleveland
Downey said in early April, when he spoke to Courthouse News, he had no idea how many supposed Rubio delegates might actually be Cruz supporters waiting and hoping for a second nominating ballot at the national convention.
"Our congressional district conventions start April 23, and occur over a four-week period they are held on four successive weekends, and that's when the actual delegates will be selected," he said.
"At the end of the process, I'll have those delegates' names, and I might have an inkling of who they'll ultimately support in the event of multiple ballots but remember, they may be keeping their cards close to their vests," Downey said.
"Alternatively, there could be congressional district conventions that require, through their own specific rules, that people running for a particular delegate spot declare who they would vote for on a second ballot.
"In that case, someone who stands up and wants to be elected a delegate might look around and say, 'Hey, this is a Trump room,' and therefore declare, 'I'm going to vote for Trump on the second ballot.' But you still don't really know. So, at least for now, I have no idea how all that's going to play out and how the support on multiple ballots might go."
Downey himself, as state GOP chairman, is one of the state's three automatically appointed statewide delegates. Under Minnesota's rules, he and the two other automatically appointed delegates a national committeeman and a national committeewoman will each be assigned to support either Trump or Cruz or Rubio.
"Now, in terms of what our subsequent or other roles are at the convention, that's yet to be determined," Downey said.
"We will meet shortly after the state convention, in May, and elect a designated speaker for the delegation going to Cleveland, and we will elect two people to the rules committee of the national convention, two people to the credentials committee which might be an interesting committee too because it determines who can be legitimately seated at the convention and vote," he said.
A portion a the meeting will also be devoted to discussing delegation strategy - whether to have one, and if so, how the delegates will approach voting on multiple ballots and the party platform and other issues.
"After that, I would imagine in would be quite fluid leading right up to the convention and even on the floor of the convention, driven mostly by the comments and decisions of the candidates who are still in the running, but also by the will of the delegation from our state," Downey said.
He said convention watcher can expect to see " all kinds of things happening."
"You can see splits within big delegations with chucks of delegates sticking with candidate X versus Y; you can conceivably see an entire state delegation binding together and supporting one candidate, and trying to leverage that influence; you can literally see groups of states working together," he said.
"There are some logical clusters of states that might work together. For us it would be Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North and South Dakota. We tend to do a lot together and know each other quite well," Downey said. "So maybe there's an upper Midwestern bloc that comes to the fore at the convention. Or an Eastern bloc, or a Western bloc. All kinds of dynamics can occur, and of course, as state party chairman, I will have a vested interested in making sure the results are the best possible for the country, first, and for our state, second."
As for efforts by various campaigns to try to sway his delegation's vote at the convention, Downey said he's already having internal conversations about that with other members of the state party.
"I think we just need to stick with doing what we think is best for the country and what's best for us to get the most conservative candidate nominated and win.
"I want us not to be compromised and I want us to come back from the convention, as the Minnesota delegation, knowing that we did our job to represent all the Republicans who voted in the state, and to represent the absolutely best interests of our country and our state,"" Downey said.
"In the event that there are discussions and deals and side deals and all those kinds of things ... so be it. But at the end of the day we need to be able to come back from that convention with our heads held high, knowing that first and foremost, we did the right thing. That's the tone I am trying to set," he said.
"This is a big deal. This is the presidency. This is the leader of the free world. This is the direction of our country for the next four years. ... deals and side deals and all kinds of stuff be what they may, in the end you have to do the right thing," Downey said.
Supporters for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump react as Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Wednesday, April 6, 2016, in Bethpage, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Categories / Uncategorized
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.