The Republican National Committee on Friday overwhelmingly approved sweeping changes in the rules for selecting a candidate for president in 2016, with members voicing a spirit of unity over the new measures.
Massachusetts Republican National Committeeman Ron Kaufman, a close adviser to Mitt Romney and centrist Republican, told Newsmax: "Look, when you have three RNC members who were a Ron Paul state chairman in '12, a Rick Santorum state chairman, and me all voting for the rules changes, we must be doing something right."
By a vote of 153-to-9 at its winter meeting in Washington, the governing body of the Republican Party officially changed rules that are intended to end the "front-loading" process by which states moved to hold primaries earlier and earlier in the election years, and to shorten the process of primaries and state conventions that select delegates to the national party convention in 2016.
In so doing, supporters of the changes told Newsmax, Republicans will also shorten the time in which candidates for nomination can attack one another and thus weaken the eventual nominee for the November election.
"We had to do something after the nomination battle that ended in Tampa," in 2012 where Mitt Romney was formally nominated for president, said Wyoming state GOP Chairman Tammy Hooper, recalling that long and rancorous battle leading up to Romney's nomination. "I wish Tampa never occurred."
James Bopp, Jr., former Republican National Committeeman from Indiana and an expert on Republican Party rules, told Newsmax that "I think we've reached the proper balance — on the one hand, allowing the primary season to go on long enough that allows candidates to energize and go on but short enough to reduce the amount of what [RNC Chairman] Reince Priebus calls 'slicing and dicing.'"
Under the new rules, the month of February 2016 will be reserved exclusively for the "Big Four" sites that traditionally are first in the nomination process to do so: the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, and the precinct caucuses in Nevada.
Should other states try to move the date of their primary, caucus or convention to this period, they will suffer a severe penalty: reduction of their national convention delegation to nine delegates and no more.
From March 1-15, states that hold primaries must have their delegates selected proportionately, based on the votes in those primaries. State primaries held after March 15 are "winner-take-all" in terms of delegates. The process is supposed to end 45 days before the national convention, which is expected to be held by late June or early July. All delegations must be certified by the party no later than 45 days before the opening of the convention, although waivers can be obtained if states have extenuating circumstances.
Noting that California traditionally holds a primary on the first Tuesday in June, the state's Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel told Newsmax: "We would be a natural for a waiver. I sure hope so."
Virginia's Republican National Committeeman Morton Blackwell voiced objections to certain parts of the changes. As he told Newsmax, "I had no problem with most of the changes but I wanted to have the March period [for primaries to be held with delegates allotted proportionally] from March 1-31 and not March 1-15. Some said two weeks is trivial, but it is not if you have won and start to catch on at the beginning of March."
Blackwell also objected to the 45-day deadline required for delegates to be certified, saying there would be less problems if the period were 35 days, as it has been in the past.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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