The Republican National Convention may be noteworthy this year for one glaring reason: who isn't coming. In the case of African-American Republicans, the list is long. They are joined by a list of former GOP nominees for president who will not attend, which includes past GOP nominees for president Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Mitt Romney. While the number of African Americans in attendance at the GOP convention was already low, the 2016 convention may have the lowest in terms of big names.
The list of convention speakers reveals few African Americans. Of the 63 speakers listed by the Republican National Committee so far, only three are African American: the Rev. Darrell Scott, Dr. Ben Carson and Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke. The U.S. Senate's only African-American Republican, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who spent the last week speaking on the Senate floor on race and policing, isn't on the list. Whether he will be in Cleveland at all is unclear.
The reason for so many convention no-shows is easy to identify: Donald Trump. Many of Trump's fellow Republicans don't want to be branded to the controversial presumptive GOP nominee with only 110 days left till Nov. 8. From calling for a ban on members of a religious group to violence at his rallies, negative statements about women and talk of "building a wall" as his approach to immigration, many elected officials and others are not running toward the brand of Trump and his views.
A torrent of rumors popped up that Cleveland-based boxing promoter Don King and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson would be speaking in Cleveland. During a speech in Cincinnati on July 6, Trump announced that King would be speaking. But just like so much of what the New York real estate mogul has said, the claim evaporated. It turns out that King isn't on the list of speakers. Trump stated that his convention would be filled with celebrities and have a "big show" feel. So far, none of the African-American stars rumored are scheduled to appear.
Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, an African American, isn't coming to Cleveland. Instead, he'll be at the Baltimore Maryland Crabfest with Gov. Larry Hogan, who isn't going to the GOP convention, either. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to stay home, too—even after a "Draft Condi" group attempted to inject her name into the race, first to run an independent race against Trump, then to be Trump's vice presidential nominee.
On June 25, Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), clearly a young rising star in the party, announced that she would not be attending the convention. Love told the local press in Utah, "I don't see the upsides to it," and "I don't see how it benefits the state," as she spoke on why she would be a no-show.
Love will give up her place as a convention delegate and instead travel to Israel. This move is a far cry from the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., when she enjoyed a prime-time speaking slot. Love is in what is expected to be a close race with her 2014 challenger, Democrat Doug Owens.
Love's predicament is the same as that of the U.S. House's other African-American Republican, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas. Both are expected to have a difficult time winning re-election after only one House term. Hurd was elected by only 2,422 votes in 2014, and Love won by only 4,225 votes. Both are facing challengers who are attempting to tie them to Trump even though neither will be in Cleveland for the Republican convention.
Yet another reason to be no-shows.