Elections

Central Coast Republican delegates arrive in Cleveland

A Republican National Convention logo is seen though silhouetted production equipment on a huge video screen at Quicken Loans Arena for the Republican National Convention, Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Cleveland.
A Republican National Convention logo is seen though silhouetted production equipment on a huge video screen at Quicken Loans Arena for the Republican National Convention, Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Cleveland. AP

Three delegates representing the Central Coast’s 24th Congressional District are at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, presumably settling into their seats at Quicken Loans Arena as the event kicks off Monday and continues through Thursday night.

Republican delegates are chosen by the presidential candidates, and in California, which holds a winner-take-all Republican primary, all delegates are committed to Donald Trump.

The only 24th District delegate from San Luis Obispo County is Mary Jordan, a San Miguel resident and tea party activist (her husband, Randall Jordan, is chairman of the Tea Party California Caucus). The other two delegates are attorney Michael Stoker of Carpenteria and Montecito resident Andrew Puzder, who is CEO of CKE Restaurants, which includes Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.

Reached by phone at her home last week, Mary Jordan declined to be interviewed and referred calls to the Trump campaign.

Fresh off his flight to Cleveland on Saturday, Stoker said in a phone interview that this would be his fifth presidential convention as a delegate or alternate. Mitt Romney, John McCain, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush are the previous candidates Stoker helped to nominate.

“I’ve been around a long time,” he said.

An attorney specializing in agricultural issues, Stoker’s career highlights include serving on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors from 1986 to 1994 and as California’s deputy secretary of state from 2000 to 2003. He ran unsuccessfully for state Assembly in 2010 and state Senate in 2012. He now consults for UnitedAg, a trade association on government affairs.

Republican delegates are selected for a variety of reasons, Stoker said, including “deep pockets,” or, in his case, having a strong political background and sizable Rolodex.

You’re never going to take the Trump out of Trump.

Republican delegate Michael Stoker of Carpenteria

He said the unique nature of the Trump campaign inspired him to make the trip to Cleveland. Stoker said that in past years, he knew nearly all the delegates and alternates at preconvention meetings. This year, barely any of those attending were familiar faces, which Stoker called “refreshing.”

“There’s something that is — completely in a very positive way — very different about the Trump campaign,” Stoker said.

As for the presumptive nominee, Stoker said he was “always very impressed by Trump” but didn’t make up his mind to support him until March. Stoker said he appreciates Trump’s willingness to speak his mind, though he also recognizes that tendency as a potential liability.

He said he’s glad Trump is starting to use prepared remarks and teleprompters more, but ultimately, he doesn’t think the candidate’s candid nature can be completely reined in.

“You’re never going to take the Trump out of Trump,” Stoker said.

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