Our Story - Part I: 2016 Delegates for Trump
The PA Swamp tried to stack the delegate deck against then candidate Trump
The Trump Campaign counter punched by recruiting and supporting Trump committed delegate candidates in December of 2015
The PA Trump campaign goes silent shortly after petitions are certified
delegatesfortrump.com is formed to fill the void
Ted Christian interferes with the delegate race 4 days prior to the 2016 primary causing split votes and lost delegates
In late 2015, the power brokers within the PA Swamp were well aware of Trump's rise in the polls and were contending with how to counter his positive populist uprising. In an effort to maintain influence over the PA Republican Party, the PA Swamp began recruiting individuals they know they could count on to tow the line for them to run for Delegate to the Republican National Convention. If Trump's campaign was successful in winning the PA primary, the PA Swamp would at least have those unbound delegates to mitigate the potential of a Trump Presidency.
The Trump campaign understood this...
As with a number of 2016 Delegates for Trump, Gabriel Keller received an email communication from the Trump campaign in December of 2015. The email requested that the recipients fill out an application to run for 2016 Delegate to the Republican National Convention to support Donald Trump as the nominee. These emails went out to early and staunch supporters of now President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. These same patriots were the ones being labeled as crazy and being mocked and ridiculed for their support for Donald J. Trump.
On December 26th, 2015, Gabriel received a communication from then Heidi Gay, Director PA Trump Campaign, in response to his application and indicating appreciation for the efforts and assurances of additional communications to come to assist with the process of running for delegate.
Throughout January of 2016, Heidi and Jason Cline, another Trump campaign staffer, were actively engaged in the delegate race and sending supportive communications to the team to confirm demographics, party registration, congressional district number along with tips and strategies to prepare for ballot circulation (Jan 26th - Feb 16th, 2016) such as things to watch for, how to generate petitions, and lists of petition signing parties with the prospective candidate's congressional district.
The petition period was pretty rough for many of the candidates. Establishment delegate candidates and committee members were actively engaged in trying to block Trump supporting delegates from getting their petitions signed using intimidation tactics, name calling, being thrown out of petition signing events, and even physical assault after being identified as Trump supporting delegate candidates. Heidi and Jason continued to keep in touch with the team throughout the petition process. They fielded claims of the establishment interference as well as offered assistance in getting additional signatures.
After the petitions were certified, the PA Swamp realized that Trump had counter punched and had a list of mostly individuals unknown to the PA Swamp. They reacted and began calling these candidates and trying to get them to withdraw their names from the ballot. When that didn't work, they began to challenge the petitions.
In the end, 10 delegate candidates were challenged off of the ballot.
These PA Swamp tactics surely couldn't still be around today with all of President Trump's accomplishments. Or could they?...
Shortly after the petitions were certified and ballot positions were selected, Jason and Heidi went radio silent and it appeared that the team was on their own. Candidates began to produce campaign collateral such as flyers, palm cards, business cards, car door magnets, websites, etc.
Local Republican committees began to send out invitations to the candidates on the ballot to speak to their local committees and seek endorsements. Candidates were all over the board as far as their support for Cruz, Kasich, Trump, District Winner, State popular vote winner, etc; some even held out hope that Rubio's campaign would come back to life. The candidates recruited by the Trump campaign marketed themselves as committed to supporting Trump on the first and all subsequent ballots at the convention. The response was good and by the candidates declaring their support allowed committee members to make informed decisions on who to endorse for delegate and why.
Around March 29th, 2016, candidates began to receive calls from Ted Christian who introduced himself as "Deputy State Director of the Trump Campaign in PA". He went on to explain that Heidi and Jason were no longer with the campaign and that he would be our point of contact moving forward. He reassured us of the campaign's support for our individual campaigns.
Ted followed up with Gabriel shortly thereafter and asked if he could speak at the Monroeville Trump Office Grand Opening where there would be a group of volunteers and local news media there to cover the event. Here is Gabriel speaking at that event...
From this event, Gabriel realized that voters were unaware of the unique PA delegate system and that the PA popular vote only accounted for roughly 25% of the delegates and that the other 75% of delegates were elected individually and were unbound to the state popular vote.
THE HANNITY EVENT AND DELEGATESFORTRUMP.COM
After a number of attempts to alert Ted of this impending issue without support, Gabriel needed to find a way to get the word out and began creating a Slack group and email group to rally the known Trump delegates from across that state around this common cause and create a forum for collaboration.
As part of this collaboration, Gabriel reached out to Fox News to ensure they could accommodate 5 Trump supporting delegate candidates from across the state at the Sean Hannity Exclusive One Hour Event with Donald Trump Townhall at near Pittsburgh on April 13th, 2016. Fox granted us all VIP access to the event.
One of those delegate candidates, Matthew Jansen, drove across the state from York, PA to meet Gabriel and attend the event with him. Gabriel and Matthew's primary goal was to not get a photo with Trump or to meet Trump. Their #1 goal was to get Corey Lewandowski's ear to alert him of the situation in PA and the lack of support from the PA Trump campaign. They were successful in briefly discussing with him and getting his card for follow-up discussion in more detail related to the matter.
After some discussion, Matthew decided to stay with the Keller family while he and Gabriel firmed up a better plan to get the word out. During their collaboration, Matthew and Gabriel, called the candidates on the ballot and interviewed them over the following days in an effort to identify 3 delegates in each congressional district that would commit to supporting Trump on the first and all subsequent ballots. Gabriel replaced his personal campaign website (www.kellerfordelegate.com) with delegatesfortrump.com - an educational website for voters to understand the system and identify their Trump supporting delegates. Matthew and Gabriel were also able to exchange some email communications with Corey, but were ultimately not able to motivate the PA Trump team to engage.
With the help of generous donors of campaign collateral and social media campaigns, word got out quickly. In the weeks leading up to the April 26th, 2016 primary, delegatesfortrump.com was getting over 30,000 hits per day and there was an ensuing media frenzy. The Trump supporting delegates were now on the radar of the national media and the minds of Pennsylvania voters. See some of these vintage media appearances from the original delegatesfortrump.com slate below...
Here is the original delegatesfortrump.com slate...
THE RETURN OF TED CHRISTIAN AND THE "OFFICIAL" TRUMP SLATE
The team had tried to contact Ted Christian on a number of occasions over the prior month with little to no avail. The only exception was a brief conference call on April 10th prior to the delegatesfortrump.com efforts.
On Wednesday, April 20th, 2016 - 6 days before the election - Lou Barletta, former US Congressman and early Trump supporter, found delegatesfortrump.com and immediately placed a call to candidate Trump. Lou proceeded to inform candidate Trump of the website and recommended that the campaign work to get this list into the hands of the voters at the polls.
Ted Christian then re-enters the picture the subsequent Friday (4 days before the election) and begins to contact the delegate candidates and have them sign a letter pledging support for Donald J. Trump on the first and all subsequent ballots in exchange for an endorsement by candidate Trump. Several folks previously not identified as Trump supporting delegates jumped at the opportunity to be endorsed and went counter to pledges that they had made to voters during their campaigning. This new list, although similar to the delegatesfortrump.com list, caused great confusion among voters of which many were already familiar with the delegatesfortrump.com list. It even had the same verbiage it was copied from!!! See Ted's List below...
Why was Gabriel Keller knocked off the list that he co-created? Why was all of the 10th congressional district replaced with candidates on John Kasich's delegate list? Why was the only African-American on the list removed? What a mess!!!
Ted committed to having the campaign work the polls and have slate cards at key polling locations from his list. This would obviously conflict with the list that had been circulating for over a month among voters. Great concern then arose about splitting the vote and that is exactly what happened.
Notable splitting of the vote can be seen in the election results where Ted's List deviated from the delegatesfortrump.com list. For example, a dedicated Cruz supporting delegate in the 12th congressional district won for delegate even though Trump carried the district by an overwhelming margin.
Both Ted's List and the delegatesfortrump.com list underperformed expectations, but the efforts certainly paid off in the Congressional Districts that the lists did not conflict. Overall, the delegatesfortrump.com team's efforts were successful despite the last minute interference by Ted Christian.
Is it possible that Ted Christian's handlers could create the same mess again in 2020? Who are Ted Christian's handlers?
Stop Back for Part II of Our Story...