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Rockwood resident takes in Republican convention

Jeff Reynolds recalls Cruz speech as highlight of event held in Cleveland -

OUTLOOK PHOTO - Republican National Convention delegate, Rockwood's own Jeff Reynolds, wearing his official delegation shirt, shows off some of the swag from the recent convention in Cleveland.When asked about attending the recent Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Jeff Reynolds doesn’t attempt to play it cool.

“It is kind of overwhelming,” the Rockwood resident said. “It is just so huge.”

The most unforgettable moment of the four days for Reynolds was for presidential hopeful Ted Cruz’s speech.

“It was really interesting to be on the floor. The place just erupted every time he gave a memorable line,” Reynolds said. “And when he said ‘vote your conscience,’” it exploded in boos. It was amazing to watch.”

Cruz caused an uproar when he spoke on the third night of the Republican convention, Wednesday, July 20, and did not endorse his rival and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Reynolds, who served as deputy state director of the Ted Cruz campaign, has not yet decided if he will support Trump.

This wasn’t Reynolds first convention. Although he finds them exhausting, he also thinks the massive gatherings are worthwhile and exciting.

The conventions of both parties are followed by millions of Americans. The Republican Convention drew 18 million views on Facebook and included more than 4,770 delegates and alternates and some 15,000 members of the news media. About 50,000 people converged on Cleveland for the event, the fourth time the Buckeye state has hosted the RNC.

Back home, Reynolds is part of the “gig” economy, working various jobs. He works as a freelance writer, Lyft driver and political organizer. He also spends many hours volunteering with Cub Scouts, the Kiwanis Club of Rockwood, the Republican Party and other organizations.

At the convention, the Oregon delegation stayed in Akron, which meant a commute of about an hour in typical traffic. Oregon delegates met for breakfast at 8 a.m., discussed the day’s events and picked up their credentials for that day. They didn’t get back to the hotel until after midnight.

You’d get three or four hours of sleep, at best,” Reynolds said.

Going to the convention is a big financial commitment for delegates. “You have to pay your own way. They warn you before you run for delegate that it will cost around $3,000. Some delegates put up GoFundMe pages,” he said, to help defray the cost.

OUTLOOK PHOTO - Jeff Reynolds' two children Tate and Max were glad to have daddy home from the recent Republican National Convention and happy with all the swag he brought for them. The Connecticut native said the lavish receptions thrown by companies and political organizations, some featuring rock bands, were fun. He picked up at least five bags of swag and his two children were delighted with the stuffed elephant, mug and other trinkets they got on his return.

Although Reynolds admitted he was too tired to attend some of the functions, he did get a chance to go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in nearby Canton, Ohio.

Reynolds said that he and other conventioneers were wary about potential demonstrations around the convention site, but he said the protests were “less violent than portrayed in the media.” He said “I did get myself caught in the middle of a Black Lives Matter protest, but it was actually more peaceful than I expected.” He saved a sticker that the anti-war Code Pink protesters planted on him that said “Make Out, Not War.”

Reynolds relished encounters with Republican luminaries at meetings and receptions. Fascinated by the opportunity to hobnob with Republicans from other states, Reynolds admitted to a bit of jealousy when talking with folks from solidly red Republican states.

“It is kind of lonely being a Republican in Oregon,” he said.