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Party: Oregon Republican delegates must back winner of May presidential primary

Oregon delegates to the Republican National Convention this summer must pledge to back the winner of the state’s presidential primary, a top state party official confirmed Thursday.

Tracy Honl, Oregon’s Republican national committeewoman, clarified the party’s rules for the 31 delegates who will cast the state’s votes for the GOP presidential nominee at the July convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A national reporter sparked confusion among some Oregon political analysts earlier Thursday by asserting that the state party would select delegates at a May 25 convention independent of the May 21 primary. 

“As it stands right now, our rules that were passed are that we are bound for the first two ballots to whoever wins the primary in Oregon,” Honl told the Capital Chronicle. 

The Oregon Republican Party’s bylaws call for a convention where precinct committeepersons – the elected local party officials who vote on party business, including nominating replacements for candidates or elected officials who don’t finish their terms – will select their delegates and alternates. 

While the bylaws don’t require delegates to support the winner of the primary, a separate set of rules adopted by the state party’s central committee do. Those rules lay out qualifications for delegates, including that they submit a written pledge to support the presidential candidate who wins the state’s primary election.

Oregon’s delegates would be free to vote for other candidates if the national convention doesn’t choose a nominee after two rounds of ballots. 

How delegates are chosen could take on special importance this year as both the Oregon Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court weigh legal challenges to former President Donald Trump’s eligibility. The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution bars candidates who previously took an oath to uphold the Constitution and then  “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” from holding office. Trump critics contend that his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and support for the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol constituted an insurrection, and the Colorado Supreme Court and Maine secretary of state agreed. 

Oregon’s secretary of state, LaVonne Griffin-Valade, told critics pushing to get Trump off the ballot that she didn’t have the authority to bar any candidate in a presidential race. That case is now on appeal before the Oregon Supreme Court,  which has asked for legal briefs by Jan. 9. Trump has appealed the Colorado case to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Honl said Oregon Republican leaders are starting to think about contingency plans should either court bar Trump, but she doesn’t think it’s likely Trump will be blocked from the Oregon primary. 

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