A Republican businesswoman who became a target of Donald Trump supporters for calling her party’s presumptive presidential nominee a “racist, misogynist flip-flopper” is poised to get a vote after all on whether Trump should lead the Republican Party.
Rina Shah Bharara, a member of the D.C. GOP, was stripped of her position as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland after a report on Breitbart.com, a conservative media outlet and chronicler of Trump’s bid for the presidency, published an article questioning whether Bharara lived in Virginia and not the District.
Local party leaders, citing the Breitbart story, ousted Bharara, who had been one of the party’s highest vote getters to be a convention delegate, and replaced her with a Trump supporter.
But Bharara fought back and filed a protest with the Republican National Committee’s contests committee. On Monday, the panel recommended Bharara be reinstated as a delegate. And it criticized the D.C. GOP for not following standard protocol for assessing her residency and for a “lack of due process” in letting her prove she was a D.C. resident.
Bharara’s ouster came as D.C. Republicans were wrestling internally in the spring with whether to support Trump after the winner of the D.C. primary, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), bowed out of the race.
The case to reinstate her appears to be an isolated one and not related to efforts by a coalition of anti-Trump delegates to increase their power and force an open contest for the nomination at the convention.
But if confirmed by the convention’s general assembly, Bharara will add one more vocal critic of Trump to the mix in Cleveland.
Bharara became a lightning rod for conservative commentators in April after she said in an appearance on Fox News that she would consider voting for Hillary Clinton instead of Trump should the New York billionaire become the party’s nominee.
In an interview on Wednesday, Bharara said she is still waiting for Trump to win her over.
“I plan to go to Cleveland and be a serious delegate — I’ll be looking for Trump to convince me that he deserves my support,” Bharara said. “I haven’t seen over many months that he will mount a serious challenge to the Democratic nominee.”
Asked about the impending reinstatement of Bharara as a delegate, Patrick Mara, executive director of the D.C. Republican Party, said he had been too busy to worry about the case.
“There are a lot of kooky delegates out there, if we get stuck with someone who lives in Virginia . . . I really haven’t been focused on that, I have a whole convention to plan,” he said.
Mara said Bharara would rejoin a D.C. delegation still heavily skeptical of Trump. A majority of the D.C. delegation are supporters of the “Never Trump” movement, he said.
Trump won no delegates in the party’s March 12 primary; 10 delegates are pledged to Rubio and nine to Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Mara said the delegation members would be looking for guidance from Rubio and Kasich about which way to vote. At most, Mara said, maybe “three or four” D.C. delegates would convert to Trump supporters.
In the course of her challenge to win back her seat, Bharara vowed to the RNC to support a Republican.
“I will cast my ballot for a Republican, and only a Republican, for the office of President of the United States. I will not vote for Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat,” she said in a signed affidavit.