GOP Facing Potential Rogue Convention

Friday, 25 Nov 2011 10:22 AM

By Dan Weil

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If you thought the squabbles over the dates for the early primaries/caucuses were intense, you may not have seen anything yet.

The rules for the nomination process play a key role in the outcome, and pitched battles over them may be coming, Rob Richie executive director of FairVote, an election reform group, and Elise Helgesen, a democracy fellow at FairVote, write in Politico.

“With the approach of the Republican Party’s first presidential nomination caucuses and primaries, party rules are already playing a key role — and just may lead Republicans on a wild nomination ride that won’t end until the last day of its convention in Tampa,” they say.

As an association rather than a government body, Republican Party rules stand as the last word on the GOP’s nomination process.

But the party’s rules conflict with some of those adopted by primaries. For example, party rules explicitly prohibit winner-take-all primaries, where whoever wins the popular vote takes all the state’s delegates. They also forbid non-Republicans from voting in primaries/caucuses.

The key state of Florida is one flouting the winner-take-all rule. And the crucial state of New Hampshire allows independents to vote.

“Given the rebellious spirit within the Republican Party embodied by a tea party movement that demands respect for the Constitution, party leaders can’t just wish away departures from the rules,” Richie and Helgesen write.

“Indeed, the national convention in Tampa just might take us back to a different political era: one in which delegates act on their power to choose the nominee that they think best represents the Republican Party — even if that is someone other than the apparent winner through state primaries and caucuses.”


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