Rep. David Harris marks 40 years since Reagan RNC fight

  • David Harris

    David Harris

Updated 7/21/2016 1:11 PM

For state Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights, the 2016 Republican National Convention marks 40 years since his first one.

That 1976 convention was hotly contested, and Harris explained in March his role in helping wrangle delegates on behalf of Ronald Reagan, who eventually lost the nomination to Gerald Ford.


Harris met his wife, Michelle, on that campaign, and she's with him in Cleveland this week.

How have conventions changed over the years?

For one, a lot of Trump delegates are new to the political process, which could bring more GOP voters on board.

"The convention is meant to bring the party faithful together and have them drink the Kool aid and get them fired up," Harris said.

"A couple of differences here are that, No. 1, a lot of those folks in the convention hall aren't the party faithful," he said.

Plus, he thought the staging was more intimate, at least in the nights before Trump's big speech.

"The delegates were close to the podium, much closer than what I've seen," Harris said. "You could literally walk up to the edge of the stage."

Harris, a former leader of the Illinois National Guard, was elected to go to the convention in the March primary as a delegate for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Even though some delegates like him weren't sent to vote for Trump, the roll call Tuesday to nominate Trump was drama-free because he had plenty of delegates to spare.

"I don't know how many more of these I'll get to go to," Harris said. "This is my sixth. It might be my last. It's been quite a journey through the Republican years."

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