Michael Harad had the foresight to know this year’s election cycle, particularly on his Republican side of the aisle, was going to be chaotic. That led him to run for, and win, the opportunity to travel to Cleveland as a delegate at the Republican National Convention. Ahead of what should be an interesting week, Who The Folk is Michael Harad?!
How did you first get interested in being a delegate?
This election cycle has been particularly interesting, for lack of a better word. I had never thought of being a delegate until now. But with the excitement being generated on both sides of the aisle, I started to look into the process. There were 17 candidates on the right and three on the left, and it simply looked to be a very exciting election cycle.
Did you grow up in a particularly politically active household in Philadelphia?
I did not. Certainly being Jewish, I grew up in a Democratic household. Neither of my parents were particularly politically engaged. I began getting politically active after 9/11.
A lot of people tended to sway a little more conservatively at that point. Was that the same for you?
Historically I always voted Democrat. There were two factors that moved me more to the right. One was, as a Democrat, I would regularly read people that had opposing points of view that I found gave interesting, persuasive and articulate arguments. I would read Dennis Prager, I would read George Will. And over time, I found their arguments to increasingly persuade me to the right. And then post 9/11, that sealed the deal for me so to speak, and help me clarify that there is good and evil in the world and not moral relativism.
What was the process to become a delegate?
It’s a peer-to-peer voting process. It starts at the caucus. You run to be a delegate, and the bar is pretty low at that level. Anyone interested can become a delegate. That takes to the next step to a Basic Political Operating Unit. At that level, you run to be a delegate ad there are two paths from there. One is through the congressional district and the other is through the state. I went through the Fifth Congressional District. There are three slots available. I ran against approximately 200 people and was selected as one of the three. There are 38 Republican delegates from Minnesota. As a marketer, I put together a campaign. I had emails, flyers, made phone calls, made posters. On the day of the convention, you’re allowed a 1-minute speech.
I’m bound to Marco Rubio as a function of how our state voted. I also caucused for Marco Rubio, so that worked out quite well for me. Our state has a certain number of slots bound to Marco Rubio, a lesser number to Ted Cruz and a small number bound to Donald Trump, based on a proportion of the state caucus. When you run as a delegate, you have to pre-select who will you be bound to. In our district they were all Rubio or Cruz. The great thing about the process is it’s real people and you get a wide range of folks demographically or otherwise. It’s a motley crew.
Our delegation has decided we will vote for who we are bound to. There is much spin on that topic whether or not delegates are truly bound.
It seems like, barring something crazy, it will be a one-ballot vote and it’s done.
I think that will be the case. There are movements to upset that. There’s a movement out of Colorado who have reached out to me and other delegates to create a “vote of conscious” to vote for whom they want, not to whom they are bound. The presumption is they are targeting Trump delegates, because there are a number of Trump delegates that are not necessarily supportive of Mr. Trump. They are looking to upset the convention. I think it’s a low likelihood of that happening.
Being bound to Rubio, it’s sort of a moot point, but what would you do if things were to change?
There were 17 major candidates on the Republican side when the primary side. Rubio was my first choice. Mr. Trump was my last. I don’t see a scenario where I’ll be supporting him. If it became a contested convention, which is why I ran to be a delegate in the first place, there’s dozens of scenarios that could play out and I don’t know what they would be or free me to do. On the first ballot, I’m voting for Marco Rubio. I feel good about that. I don’t know where it goes beyond that.
Why Marco Rubio?
His overwhelming and unshakable support for Israel, which while similar across the majority of candidates, I think he and one other stood out from the crowd. I found Rubio and Ted Cruz to be strongest. For me it’s a critical issue. Economically, I tended to be aligned with his position as well, and he had a more moderate view on immigration than many of the candidates, which I also align with.
When I think of politics I bucket the topics into three areas: Social, economic and foreign affairs. I tend to be right on many, but particularly am conservative on foreign affairs and economics. When two of the three topics align, that has me leaning that way.
What is the role of a delegate?
There’s four areas of responsibility at a convention. Most people associate it with one of the four, which is the vote for the presidential candidate. Alignment on the rules that govern the convention.; alignment on the platform; voting for the presidential candidate; and voting for the vice-presidential candidate. All have to be voted on by delegates. All are equally critical.
The rules govern the convention and it’s the first order of business. There was a rule four years ago that is controversial: It required a candidate to win a minimum of eight states to be on the ballot. I know there will be much discussion about that particular rule.
That rule could be fairly interesting. If Rubio isn’t on the ballot, where does your vote go?
Unclear to me. I’m sure someone knows that answer. Marco Rubio, along with most of the other candidates, didn’t end their campaign. They suspended it. That would keep me bound to the candidate. Given the option, I’ll still vote for Rubio.
Do you support Trump come November and how do you reconcile that he was your last choice of the 17?
I’m conflicted at best. I do not support Hillary Clinton. My choice will be voting for Trump or voting on the down-ballot and passing over the presidential vote. I think Trump is stronger on Israel and that’s a lead issue for me, but I have concerns about him and his persona on many other issues. To quote Dennis Prager, “The choice this November is tragic. As it often happens in life, this choice is between bad and worse, not bad and good.”
Favorite Jewish food?
My wife’s challah.
Favorite Jewish holiday?
Shabbat. I get to be with my family and friends, and celebrate Judaism every single week. It’s a weekly reminder of who I am.
Come back next week, where we talk to a local Jewish delegate going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!