CLEVELAND – Arizona delegates cast all 58 of their votes Tuesday for Donald Trump, helping him complete his run to be the unlikely presidential nominee of the Republican Party in a red, white and blue sea of chanting convention delegates.
Trump’s campaign outlasted 16 other Republican hopefuls and weathered intense criticism from some members of a divided party to capture 1,543 delegates, well over the 1,237 need to clinch the nomination.
“It’s a big victory for the country and for Donald Trump and then he’s got one more hurdle and that’s to win the general election, and I’m sure he will,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, one of Trump’s earliest supporters.
The vote came one day after the convention floor broke out in shouts Monday as Trump opponents mounted what turned out to be a last-ditch effort to derail his nomination with a change in party rules.
Any drama from Monday was largely forgotten Tuesday, replaced with excitement and energy that Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham called “infectious.” He described the chaos on the floor Monday as delegates “passionately involved in politics exercising their rights,” dismissing the notion of divisions in the party.
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“One of the things about the Republican party is that we celebrate individualism and so we actually support the idea that people can exercise their rights given the rules and yesterday, everybody was well within their rights and the rules to do what they did,” Graham said.
In the traditional roll call of the states, Graham announced the votes from Arizona – which he called “the hottest state in the country for job growth” – all going to Trump, drawing cheers and applause from the high-energy crowd that was standing shoulder-to-shoulder in Quicken Loans Arena.
Sandwiched between Michigan delegation members in matching T-shirts and Washington state delegates in evergreen-tree headbands, Arizona delegates cheered as Trump surpassed the number needed for the nomination. Some wore American flag garb and cowboy hats, one even standing on a chair to cheer.
Delegates in the packed arena erupted in cheers as Trump gained delegates in state after state, booing when Ohio Gov. John Kasich scooped up votes in his home state and when Florida Sen. Marco Rubio took the District of Columbia, for example.
“It’s great to kind of get over that hump,” Arizona delegate George Cuprak as the Trump nomination approached. “It’s like having a baby.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said it was exciting to watch Graham announce Arizona’s votes for Trump.
“It’s a packed house, it’s an exciting night and it’s really neat to be here,” Ducey said.
Graham said after the nomination was official that the party is united, with most Republicans unified over either electing Trump or stopping Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Cuprak said that the energy of the crowd attested to the party’s support of Trump.
“There’s been a lot of bluff and bluster, but at the end of the day it’s going to happen … I can tell from the energy in the crowd it’s not going to be a problem,” Cuprak said.
Trump’s children took the stage to deliver the votes from their home state of New York, with his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., calling out the votes that brought Trump over the 1,237 delegates needed.
“Congratulations, Dad. We love you,” the younger Trump said, before joining a group hug with siblings Ivanka and Eric Trump.
Graham said now that Trump is formally the Republican candidate, the party is behind him as the world watches.“People may be cautious or skeptical, but it’s an exciting time for sure,” Graham said.