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KPBS Midday Edition

Who's Representing California At The RNC, And Who's Not?

A fireworks display wrapped up the opening party at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on July 17, 2016.

UPDATE: 4:00 p.m., July 18, 2016

California's delegation may be stuck in a hotel an hour away from the Republican National Convention, but it's got a prime spot on the convention floor.

The state's 172 delegates — including Shari Clark of Orange County — are right up front, just feet from the stage.

"It's surreal," Clark said. "I just, I feel like I have to pinch myself. I can't believe I'm here, and just be a part of history."

As a blue state, California doesn't often get such a great spot at Republican conventions. But the Trump campaign placed its largest and most loyal delegations up front, anticipating a challenge from opponents.

When that challenge came this afternoon over the convention rules, California delegates led the chants and votes in support of Trump — and their side prevailed.

Original post

California is sending the largest delegation of any state to this week’s Republican National Convention. The 172-member delegation includes several prominent elected officials — but others did not make the trip.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield is the best known of California’s delegates. He’s joined in the delegation by one other member of Congress, Rep. Darrell Issa of San Diego County, and by former Sacramento-area Rep. Doug Ose.

RELATED: List of California's 172 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland

State Senate Minority Leader Jean Fuller is on the trip – she’s also from Bakersfield and a close ally of McCarthy’s. Two other state lawmakers are delegates and a third is an alternate.

RELATED: List of California's 168 alternate delegates

Notable absences include the two highest ranking California Republican elected officials: Board of Equalization members Diane Harkey and George Runner. Both supported Ted Cruz. Runner wouldn’t have come anyway – his wife passed away on Thursday.

Also not in Cleveland: Assembly Minority Leader Chad Mayes, who was a Mitt Romney convention delegate in 2012 before being elected to the Legislature. Mayes originally backed John Kasich – and has still not endorsed Donald Trump.

That said, many elected officials choose to skip presidential conventions regardless of the nominee.

Live Blog: Who’s Representing California At The RNC, And Who’s Not?
Republican National Convention Preview GUEST:Katie Orr, government and politics reporter, KQED

The delegates have gathered in the convention is just begun. We will get a report in Cleveland. City officials gathered in Balboa Park for rally in support of law enforcement. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It's Monday, July 18. Our top story the Republican National Convention is underway in Cleveland . The convention is expected to select Donald Trump as the Republican Nonna me for president and is being promoted as unconventional. Many top Republicans are not attending. Handful of non-politicians are speaking. I'm joined by Katie Orr, KQED politics and government reporter who is in Cleveland. Welcome to the show. Thank you. How would you describe the atmosphere in and around the convention? Things are just getting underway. I'm staying with the California delegation. There are 340 members. Everyone from that group is very excited, we had a breakfast beach -- speech this morning. People were ready to start the festivities, so to speak. Within the convention itself, things are very entered Chadrick -- energetic. It's my understanding that the protests have already started and they are quite large. I think, outside of the convention, the mood might be different. I heard California's Republican delegate -- delegation is being housed far away from the center. Is that a message? It's a message that California Republicans are not very important, frankly. California, in all likelihood, will go blue, in the November election. They don't hold a ton of sway. They get last pick of hotels and yes, we are staying 60 miles away in Sandusky in a water park themed resort. To make up for it, they have a prime location on the convention floor, they are right up front. That is supposed to be seen as a way to ease any hurt feelings. People are saying, it's convenient that 100% of the delegates are for Trump, it makes for good optics. You won't have any stray Ted Cruz signs popping up. 100% of California's GOP delegation is pro-Trump? Yes. The way it works is, delegates are awarded on congressional district, whichever candidate wins that district gets to choose the delegates. Trump one all of the districts in California, he got to pick the delegates. There is no division, at all, within this delegation. Everyone is pro-Trump and pretty excited about it, from what I can tell. How do they see changes in the GOP platform, the changes supporting a border wall and now officially calling people illegal aliens. How does the GOP members see that playing in our state's politics? This primary shows us the different side of California. When we think of California, we think of the bigger, more liberal cities that tend to be more democratic. That's not the case for a lot of the state. There are a lot of rural areas, Central Valley tends to go Republican. A lot of people from those areas align with Trump, on a lot of his beliefs and platform. It's not true across the board. We were talking to a man, Juan Hernandes, he is a gay Latino man, who is a Trump delegate and very excited about it. You to keep -- he told me it's like a punch in the stomach. Some of the anti-gay platform positions, that the party has taken, hurts him personally. He still believes that Trump is the better candidate. He will go for him. You will have a lot of people like that, who even if they don't believe in everything that the platform says, they still think Trump is the better candidate. This morning, Congressman, Clinton -- McClintock said the only politician he has agreed with 100% was himself. It's not unusual, that you don't agree with everything that your candidate might believe. California will have a presence at this convention, because there are several celebrities from California on the speakers lineup. Scott bail, you will remember from Charles in charge is one of the speakers tonight. We also have Antonio Sabato Junior, who was a soap opera star. There are a laundry list of people. The California delegation will be hearing from Omogrosso, she was on an early season of the apprentice and cast as the villain. She will be speaking to the delegation and will be hearing from Anne Coulter at the delegation breakfast. Tonight, Melania Trump will speak, people are looking forward to that we haven't heard a lot from her. Donald Trump will introduce her. We will get to hear from the man himself. I've been speaking with Katie Orr, reporting from the GOP convention in Cleveland. Thank you so much. You're welcome.

“It’s July in Cleveland, or I could be at home,” rural Northern California Rep. Doug LaMalfa told the Los Angeles Times in May. “I don’t think I’m needed there. There’s a lot of people anxious and hot to go and be delegates, so have at it.”

And members of Congress are guaranteed convention access by virtue of their office. Orange County Rep. Mimi Walters, who's not a Trump delegate, told the Times that she would attend the convention out of curiosity.