Enid Mickelsen will be the establishment’s enforcer at this summer’s GOP convention, working on behalf of Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus to squash dissent and facilitate the uneventful nomination of Donald J. Trump.
That is, unless Mickelsen is actually Priebus’s secret, hand-picked sleeper agent, the woman empowered — by party bosses, in case of an electoral emergency — to rig the proceedings in favor of a group of rebels attempting to overthrow Trump.
These dueling perceptions of Mickelsen, a former member of Congress and the current Utah national committeewoman, have percolated inside the RNC since Priebus appointed her to chair the powerful Convention Committee on Rules and Order of Business. This panel, which writes the rulebook that governs the convention, represents the final obstacle between Trump and the nomination. And Mickelsen, by agreeing to lead it, has subjected herself to intense scrutiny — of her Mormon faith, her support for Mitt Romney in 2012, and even her status as a lame-duck committeewoman who will retire in 2017 regardless of how the convention and general election play out.
Trump will be the star attraction at this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. But nobody will be watched more closely over the next three weeks than Mickelsen, a little-known, Sunday School-teaching grandmother from Draper, Utah. And what’s most fascinating, in surveying more than a dozen colleagues who will serve on Mickelsen’s committee, is that members on both sides of the Trump divide — those intent on changing the rules to oust him and those determined to preserve his nomination — see reason to fear her.
“The more people criticize me, the more determined it makes me to show I’m an honest broker,” Mickelsen says in an interview, acknowledging the whispers surrounding her appointment. “I’m not walking into this with any loyalty to any candidate — past, present, or future. My job is to run a fair committee.”