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Donald Trump isn't the problem: WA Republicans worry about unity

Katja Delavar may not fit your image of a Washington-state Republican.

There’s the purple-and-black motorcycle and her helmet with the long, purple braid of fake hair flying out the back.

Then there's her background – she's originally from Iran.

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"In Iran they said a woman should never be on a bike," she said. "When I hit 30, I bought my first bike and I’ve been riding since, and I really, really enjoy it."

Delavar rode up from Vancouver, Washington, and was outside the TRAC Convention Center in Pasco on Wednesday, ready for the start of the state GOP convention. Hundreds of Republicans gathered to pick the delegates who will represent the state at the party's national convention this summer in Cleveland.

Those delegates will be divvied up in the state primary May 24. But first there's a chance to talk about the party's direction.

"I am a liberty-minded, constitutional Republican," Delavar said. "I feel it’s very important to go back to the founders' thoughts on the Constitution and to limit the scope of government."

Over in the RV parking area, Len Liendsley had a red, white and blue nylon elephant lawn ornament spinning in the wind.

"I'm just a devout, conservative Republican," he said. "I just love the party.”

But he’s not totally in love with the party this year. And not because of Donald Trump.

"Pray that everything comes together and that we have party unity," Liendsley said.

[asset-images[{"caption": "Karyn Bowerman's dog, Dolly, in the RV parking lot outside the Pasco convention center. The state Republican convention is going on there this week.", "fid": "126450", "style": "card_280", "uri": "public://201605/20160520-dolly-gop_0.JPG", "attribution": "Credit KUOW PHOTO/David Hyde"}]]There's more than a little anxiety this year in Pasco about that unity.  

Karyn Bowerman captured the mood: "This is a really crazy, crazy year, isn't it?" she said.

She and her husband brought their little dog Dolly to the convention this year.

"She is the highlight of our life," Bowerman said.

So who does Dolly back?

"She votes for her mom, she votes for me!" Bowerman said. "I'm the one who gives her the food and water, right?"

Art Swannack farms southwest of Spokane. He's also OK with Trump.

"In some ways I've liked how Donald Trump has brought a new revitalization to the idea that you can say your point of view," Swannack said. "The media will come out and just hack and people will give up, but he doesn't give up, he fights."

A few minutes from the convention center is Columbia Basin College. Aide Farias was studying with a friend there Thursday morning.

She had no idea that the Republicans were in town and said that Donald Trump is not right for the community in Pasco. She said his criticism of immigrants as a drain on the economy isn't popular.

"I don't get any financial aid; I have to pay for my own; I work," she said. "I wasn't born in Mexico, but I'm still Mexican. What offends us is everybody's working here in the Tri-Cities.

"So I don't know what he's talking about."

Year started with KUOW: 2004