Republican activists won a critical vote Friday at the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting in Hollywood, Calif., which party officials hope will soothe tensions between the grass roots and the party establishment.
The RNC overturned a rules change made last year which would have prevented convention delegates from switching their choice of candidates after being selected in a primary or caucus. The rules change was pushed by the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney and adopted at the RNC’s 2012 convention in Tampa.
“We got the worst of it overturned,” FreedomWorks Vice President Russ Walker told Newsmax. “Clearly they heard from the grass roots and they reacted.”
The action to overturn the rules began with Ron Paul’s supporters, who argued the change would have prevented them from voting their conscience, and in doing so give Republican insiders more leverage in choosing the nominee.
The Paul enthusiasts were recently joined by other traditional conservative leaders in seeking the change, as 60 conservative luminaries such as Edwin Meese III, Gary Bauer and Phyllis Schlafly sent a letter to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus asking him to “undo the rules power grab done in Tampa.”
The RNC initially supported the rules change, contending that it would help the party because candidates won’t have to campaign twice in a state to secure their vote at the convention.
However, Priebus praised the vote changing the rule in a statement after the meeting.
“We all agree the grass roots are the center of this party and are vital to winning elections,” Priebus said. “This change makes clear that the grass roots will pick their delegates and that presidential candidates can neither veto delegates nor unseat delegates. This was a win for both delegates and candidates by unifying our party behind this delegate allocation process.”
The victory in Hollywood assuaged the concerns of the grass-roots activists for now, but FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe cautioned in a statement after the vote that friction remains over whether power will continue to be held in the states or with party elites in Washington, D.C.
“The RNC’s spring meeting was just the first skirmish in a fight that can have only one outcome, because the party’s insiders are fighting an inevitable cultural trend toward more decentralization, transparency and grass-roots participation,” Kibbe said.
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