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Will a GOP 'Lord of the Flies' Uprising Try to Dump Trump?

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Donald Trump addresses the California Republican Party 2016 convention in Burlingame on April 29, 2016. (Gabrielle Lurie/AFP/Getty Images)

Mario Guerra laughs when I ask if he's going to the GOP convention in Cleveland next month.

"I have a business proposition I have to attend," he says nervously.

Guerra isn't just any California Republican. The former mayor of Downey is the state party's treasurer. But he does not treasure the idea of attending Trump's coronation.

As much as some leaders in California's Republican Party would like to think otherwise, they see no hope of derailing Trump's nomination next month.

"We’re not concentrating on the top of the ticket in California," Guerra says.


Still, there's open talk about trying to head off Trump in national GOP circles.

"God, I wish it was a possibility," said Michael Schroeder, a key organizer of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's campaign in California. Schroeder, who helped write California's rules on GOP delegate selection, says he can't even imagine a scenario where a party coup could dump Trump at the convention.

"If there was a 'Hail, Mary' pass, I'd be working on it," said Schroeder as he waited to catch a plane back to California from Africa. (The highlight of the trip, he says: watching a cheetah eat an antelope in a tree.)

Others aren't quite sure it's so hopeless. Even if they don't want to be quoted on the record saying it.

"Right now it's all on paper napkins, text messages and Twitter," one California campaign insider told me.

"This is a total 'Lord of the Flies' scenario," the insider said. "Nobody’s in charge. They're just looking at how to exploit the holes before us."

"Holes," as in convention rules that could theoretically be changed by party leaders to free Republican delegates to vote for whomever they want on the first ballot.

"Like a vote-of-conscience clause," the GOP operative told me. His take: Because Trump is such a political novice, his pledged delegates aren't really firmly committed and could be convinced to abandon him.

Republican consultant Mike Madrid doesn't quite rule out the possibility of blocking Trump.

"It would take an extraordinary and unanimous effort to pull that off," he says. "There would have to be enough push from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker Paul Ryan, Romney, the Bushes, Gingrich -- the leaders and elder statesman would have to say unanimously this is not going to stand."

"And you have to understand it would rip the party apart and guarantee Hillary Clinton's ascendance to the presidency," Madrid adds. "That would be the calculation."

Republican political consultant Rob Stutzman, who helped lead the energetic but brief "Stop Trump" movement in California, isn't persuaded by the notion of derailing the controversial mogul, as much as he'd like to see that happen.

"It's hard to know," Stutzman said, leaving that door ajar slightly. "We've never been here before."

If you're looking for signs that GOP leaders might try to stop Trump -- attention, conspiracy theorists! -- you're in luck.

Friday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced that Enid Mickelsen of Utah will chair the Rules Committee at the GOP convention. Ted Cruz won that state's caucus with 69 percent of the vote. Ms. Mickelsen is a delegate committed to Cruz.

When told about Mickelsen's appointment, Trump's California campaign director Tim Clark was unfazed.

"I would imagine that person's been vetted and that he's the right man for the job," said Clark. When told it was a woman, he chuckled and reiterated that he had "no concerns."

And what does he make of reports that a Trump coup is in the offing?

"I don't know if it's getting stronger or in the last throes of a dying movement," Clark said. "It's probably the latter."

Minutes after the RNC sent out the press release on Mickelsen's appointment, another email arrived in my inbox from the RNC. The "updated" release announced a Rules Committee co-chair, Ron Kaufman from Massachusetts. Kaufman supported Jeb Bush originally, but now says he's committed to Donald Trump.

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