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'Romney Rules' Could Prevent a Paul Ryan Run

Image: 'Romney Rules' Could Prevent a Paul Ryan Run

By John Gizzi
Wednesday, 30 Mar 2016 10:09 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Murmurs of a Paul Ryan dark-horse run for the GOP nomination won't amount to much if the RNC doesn't change some rules that prevent such a bid.

Of course, Ryan's run would only happen if there's a contested Republican convention.

Under what opponents characterize as the “Romney rules”— changes in the party rules for nomination that were crafted in 2012 by allies of nominee Mitt Romney — it takes a majority of delegates from eight states or territories for any candidate to be placed in nomination and to receive votes for president at the convention.

“So as of today, the only candidates who have secured backing from a majority of delegates in eight states or territories and are thus eligible for the Republican nomination are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz,” Virginia Republican National Committeeman Morton Blackwell, a Cruz supporter and longtime expert on GOP rules, told me Tuesday.

Blackwell recalled how at the 2012 convention in Tampa, Fla., Romney’s triumphant supporters rammed through rules changes that raised the threshold for a candidate to be placed in nomination — from a majority of delegates in five states to eight states.

There was also a fresh corollary to this rules change: No delegate votes would be counted on the first ballot for any presidential candidate who has failed to demonstrate his support from a majority of delegates from eight states or territories.

As a result, in Blackwell’s words, “no votes for any candidate other than Mitt Romney were counted in the final tally of the votes on the first and only ballot in Tampa. That caused a great uproar and many hard feelings. Large numbers of delegates went home furious. They had come to Tampa to cast their votes for other candidates, but their votes weren’t even counted!”

These hard feeling were especially evident among supporters of Ron Paul, who did control a majority of a few state delegations but not enough for their man to have votes counted for him.

There is also a little-known downside to what Blackwell dubbed “the notorious Rule 40(b)” that affects the scenario of Ryan or another fresh contender gaining support after the first ballot and coming from behind to win nomination on later ballots.

Although the rules in most state parties permit convention delegates to be free agents after the first ballot, the Romney-crafted Rule 40(b) requires candidates to prove they have met the eight-state threshold “not less than one (1) hour prior to the placing of the names of candidates for nomination pursuant to this rule and the established order of business.”

“In other words,” Blackwell explained, “When the first ballot begins, no additional candidates can qualify to receive votes that will be counted. So, the way this is worded, the only candidates who meet the eight-state threshold required to receive votes that count on the first ballot can receive votes that count on subsequent ballots.”

Supporters of a “draft Ryan” movement like to recall how in 1940, attorney-utilities executive and liberal Republican Wendell Willkie (who never won a single primary) trailed badly on the first ballot at the convention but gradually garnered enough votes to secure nomination on the sixth ballot.

The way the party rules are now written, a Willkie coming from behind to win at a contested convention is, Blackwell told me, “nearly out of the question.”

In January, Blackwell came close to upending Rule 40(b) at the Rules Committee meeting during the RNC gathering in Charleston, S.C. An amendment to his motion by the RNC’s general counsel, he said, kept the Romney rules in place.

When the RNC’s Rules Committee holds its final pre-convention meeting in late April, some members of the committee plan another assault on 40(b). Whether the 56-member committee — an estimated two thirds of whom are considered loyal allies of RNC Chairman Reince Preibus — responds remains to be seen.

“We have these probems to deal with because the establishment will grasp at any straw to keep the anti-Establishment candidate to be nominated and potentially elected,” Blackwell told us, “What they are weighing now is a catastrophe.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

© 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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Murmurs of a Paul Ryan dark horse run for the GOP nomination won't amount to much if the RNC doesn't change some rules that prevent such a run.
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