WASHINGTON – John Trandem wanted to be the delegate who would put Donald Trump over the top, giving him enough delegates to clinch the Republican presidential nomination.
But when he was contacted by an Associated Press reporter, the AP delegate count stood at 1,235 — two delegates short.
"I'm happy to be No. 1,237," said Trandem, a small business owner from North Dakota. "But I won't commit until you're at 1,236."
Trandem is an unbound delegate, meaning he is free to support the candidate of his choice. All 28 Republican delegates in North Dakota are unbound because the state party declined to have a primary or caucus.
Trandem, who lives north of Fargo, was reached on his wife's mobile phone. He was on his way to an event where he and other North Dakota delegates would meet Trump, giving the billionaire businessman enough delegates to clinch the nomination.
Wanting to break the story first, reporters were calling and emailing unbound delegates across the country.
Trandem was for Trump, but he didn't want to say so unless he was Mister 1,237.
No problem, he had a solution. He handed the phone to another delegate, state Rep. Ben Koppleman, who was riding with him.
After Koppleman confirmed he was committed to Trump, Trandem took the phone back.
"Are you at 1,236?" he asked.
Yes, he was told. "Then I'm the one!"
Minutes later the AP declared that Trump had secured enough delegates to clinch the nomination.
Later on Thursday, both men shook hands with Trump before sharing a stage with him during a news conference in Bismarck, North Dakota.