With his preferred candidate Marco Rubio dropping out of the presidential race this week, North Carolina conservative donor Art Pope said he’s interested in joining an open Republican convention as a delegate.
Pope – who owns the discount store chain Variety Wholesalers and served as Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget director – endorsed Rubio in December and said he’d raise money for the campaign. In January, records show he gave $250,000 to Conservative Solutions PAC, a committee backing Rubio.
Reached Thursday, Pope said he won’t endorse any of the three remaining Republican candidates until the Republican National Convention in July.
“Right now, I am staying uncommitted,” he said. “I may seek to be elected as a Rubio delegate. I do believe that there may be an open or contested convention.”
Rubio won nine delegates in North Carolina before dropping out. If no one wins the GOP nomination on the first ballot at the convention, all delegates would be free to support any candidate on later votes. The N.C. Republican Party will select its delegates for various candidates at its convention in June.
Frontrunner Donald Trump said this week that his supporters might “riot” if he enters the convention with more delegates than his opponents but gets denied the nomination.
Back in December when Pope endorsed Rubio, he said he’s never supported Trump and that “Donald Trump is the frontrunner because the media keeps asking about Donald Trump.”
Asked Thursday if he had concerns about Trump getting the nomination, Pope said he “will look at all the individuals’ qualifications and positions on the issues.”