Party Poopers! GOP Senators Are Skipping Trump’s Convention In Droves

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump checks his watch during a campaign speech Saturday, June 11, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
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Donald Trump has promised to make the Republican Convention in Cleveland a star-studded production only a casino mogul and reality television star could deliver. But, more than a dozen GOP senators – many of whom are facing their own re-elections back home–are skipping the festivities.

Of the 54 Republican senators, 16 have announced they won’t be going to Cleveland and six more have yet to make a final decision.

It’s a highly unusual year with more than a dozen lawmakers missing out on what is typically a major event for incumbent senator. It had been 16 years since Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) missed a GOP convention, McClatchy reported in May. But with a tough election back home and public association with the party’s presidential nominee considered by many to be a liability, Blunt, along with a larger contingent of senators, is staying away.

But senators up for re-election are not the only ones who have said they will forgo the formal coronation of Donald Trump. Senators who have been critical of Trump have offered some of the most entertaining explanations for what they plan to do instead of the convention.

“Sen. Sasse will not be attending the convention and will instead take his kids to watch some dumpster fires across the state, all of which enjoy more popularity than the current front-runners,” a spokesman for Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) told reporters.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who was personally attacked by Trump during a meeting with senators near Capitol Hill last week, announced he had some important household chores to attend to.

“I’ve got to mow my lawn,” Flake told the Associated Press.

Of course, Democrats have also skipped conventions before. In 2012, when President Barack Obama was up for re-election, McClatchy reported four Democrats skipped the Charlotte convention to campaign back home.

This year, however, the numbers are stark. At one point, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee told Republican candidates to stay away when it looked as though the convention could be contested .

“If there’s going to be a brouhaha, I’m advising candidates to be present for more unifying events,” Wicker told The Hill newspaper.

Here is who is going and who is going to be sitting this year out, which was curated from a host of media reports: (* indicates they are up for re-election)

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) (for a bit)
Sen. John Boozman (R-AR)*
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)*
Sen. David Perdue (R-GA)
Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)*
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE)
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) -going briefly*
Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)*
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)*
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)*
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)*
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD)
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) (attending and is on the powerful rules committee)*
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)

Not Attending:
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)*
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)*
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)*
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)*
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)*
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)*
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)*
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)*
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)*
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)*
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)*
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)

Still Deciding:
Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)*
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)
Sen. John Thune (R-SD)*

This post has been updated.

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