Donald Trump and his supporters have warned about the possibility of unrest if he is denied the Republican presidential nomination through a process his voters see as unfair. Trump himself predicted riots at the GOP convention is held in Cleveland this July. Prominent Trump supporter Roger Stone, a Nixon-era dirty tricks specialist, has called for "Days of Rage"-style protests in Cleveland.
Turns out they may not have to wait that long to see what a crowd of frustrated Trump supporters angry at party officials looks like, as a protest at the Colorado state Republican Party headquarters is being planned for Friday afternoon.
It has been made clear over the past two weeks that while Trump is good at firing up stadium-sized crowds, his campaign doesn't have the sort of organizational structure necessary to win a protracted state-by-state battle over the selection of delegates to the convention. The problem that presents became obvious over the weekend, when Trump's chief competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, successfully completed his attempt to scoop up every single delegate available in the state of Colorado.
Colorado has a bit of an odd system. Voters caucus locally to elect representatives to the Congressional district-level and the State-level conventions. Those representatives, in turn, choose delegates to the national convention who are required to say in advance whom they intend to support. So, the average voter never actually casts a vote for an actual candidate.
The system puts a premium on organization and planning, and over the past weeks, as the Congressional districts voted, and into this weekend's state convention, Team Trump looked incompetent and overwhelmed, while Cruz's people had plainly been preparing for months. That preparation earned their candidate 34 delegates, further trimming Trump's lead.
But some Colorado voters who support Trump don't see the Cruz team's move as a masterful job of understanding the rules of the game and assembling a team that could win. They see it as cheating. They see it as exploiting a rigged system that allows the party elites to subvert the will of the people.
On Monday, a YouTube video of an older Colorado voter burning his Republican Party registration went viral after Trump linked to it on Twitter.
Now, a couple in the Denver suburb of Arvada has launched an organization called Colorado Votes Matter to plan a protest at Party headquarters in Denver on Friday.
"The Colorado Republican Party shamefully silenced its voters this election season," the group's website says. "We demand that Colorado give the power to vote in the Presidential Primary to the voters. We will exercise our right to assemble and peacefully protest the corruption of the Colorado GOP and disenfranchisement that we the voters have suffered."
Erin Behrens sounded a little shell-shocked when she picked up the phone on Monday afternoon.
"We started the organization last night," she said. "It's not exactly a huge group."
We're up on Drudge right now," she said, referring to the popular news aggregation site The Drudge Report, "so my email box is exploding."
Behrens said she and her husband, both lifelong Republicans, have been angry ever since their local caucus in early March. Despite Trump winning 9 of 16 votes, (Cruz took five and Ben Carson 2) the two delegates sent to the county and state convention, she said, were both Cruz supporters.
"We had a very upsetting evening," she said. "Even though Trump won our straw poll, we wound up with two Cruz people going to the convention."
Behrens said she contacted the state GOP office, but no action was taken. The weekend's delegate wrangling at the state convention was the final straw, she said, convincing her and her husband that they needed to take action.
The event on Friday should be interesting, because it could be a sort of microcosm of what the Republican National Committee can expect at a contested convention in Cleveland. Only, if Trump comes in with the most delegates and loses to someone with a better inside game than he has, the protests won't be organized on the spur of the moment by a couple in Arvada.