Some of you have heard about the brewing RNC Rules dispute. For those of you that haven’t, it centers around a provision added by the Temporary RNC Rules Committee last Friday that gives presidential candidates the power to veto or remove national convention delegates representing them after they are elected in their various states. Texas’ two Rules Committee members strongly opposed the provision, as it would upend Texas’ grassroots-centric method of electing national delegates (Texas elects its delegates from among the 12,500 delegates and alternates to the Texas State Republican Convention, the largest delegated convention in the US, all of whom are elected to that convention from one of 263 county/senatorial district conventions). Texas is one of many states that, by state law, bind its national convention delegates to the presidential primary result, ensuring that the voters have a direct say in who our nominee is. A committee of delegates elected from each of the 36 congressional districts then assign that result to individual delegates, “binding” them to vote for that candidate unless released by the candidate at the national convention. In order to ensure that the voters’ voice is reflected in the vote for president at the national convention, each delegate signs a pledge to vote for that candidate they are assigned to on at least the first ballot. Unfortunately, some delegates in various states have, in the past, and likely this year as well, broken their pledges and voted for a candidate other than the one they were elected to represent. The genesis of the proposed rule change was to ensure those delegates pledged to a candidate actually are delegates who support that candidate, however, the proposed rule went too far, creating a situation in which the presidential candidates themselves would be allowed to select national delegates (the power to veto is also tantamount to the power to select), not the voters of a state and the delegates they select to represent them. An uproar developed over the past few days, and this morning the Texas delegation voted unanimously to support a minority report striking the new language and calling for a roll call vote on the Rules.
As the day brewed, other states were added to the number, with Conservative luminaries leading the charge. Monday evening a compromise emerged, changing the language in Rule 16, in my opinion, for the better–meeting the need to ensure faithful delegates, but preserving the power of the grassroots to elect their representatives at the national convention. Both of Texas’ Rules Committee members have signed on to the language, which is expected to be adopted by the Permanent Rules Committee in lieu of any minority report Tuesday afternoon.
For those asking about the text of the proposed compromise amendment to the disputed proposed Rule 16(a)(2), it is reproduced below:
For any manner of binding or allocating delegates under these Rules, if a delegate
(i) casts a vote for a presidential candidate at the National Convention inconsistent with the delegate’sobligation under state law or state party rule,
(ii) nominates or demonstrates support under Rule 40 for a presidential candidate other than the one to whom the delegate is bound or allocated under state law or state party rule, or
(iii) fails in some other way to carry out the delegate’s affirmative duty under state law or state party rule to cast a vote at the National Convention for a particular presidential candidate,
the delegate shall be deemed to have concurrently resigned as a delegate and the delegate’s improper vote or nomination shall be null and void. Thereafter the Secretary of the Convention shall record the delegate’s vote or nomination in accordance with the delegate’s obligation under state law or state party rule. This subsection does not apply to delegates who are bound to a candidate who has withdrawn his or her candidacy, suspended or terminated his or her campaign, or publicly released his or her delegates.
The Credentials Committee heard the Contest of the Oklahoma At-Large Delegates. The issue before the Committee was whether the Oklahoma Convention conducted a ballot or roll call vote in the election of the at-large delegate slate as required Oklahoma GOP Rule 18(d). Evidence was presented that a roll call vote was conducted on the question of whether a side by side vote should be conducted between the slate proposed by the State Executive Committee and one proposed by supporters of Cong. Paul. This vote was conducted at the request of Cong. Paul’s supporters. The vote failed. The convention immediately proceeded to a vote on the adoption of the Executive Committee slate. This vote was conducted by voice vote and, upon request of a delegate, a subsequent standing vote. Contestants argued that this vote was in violation of OK Rule 18(d) and the at-large slate approved by that vote should not be seated. At no point did contestants present evidence that a roll call vote would have resulted in a different and correct result, and therefore I and my fellow delegate from Texas voted to adopt the Committee on Contests’ report denying the contest. The report was adopted by the Committee with only one dissenting vote.
The final contest considered was brought against 21 at-large alternate delegates from Oregon. Oregon uniquely conducts its state convention simultaneously in five different locations. The agenda for the convention provided for a simultaneous adjournment at at time certain of 5 pm on the day of the convention. While this time was disputed, the facts indicated that less than the entire body of delegates was afforded participation in the election of at-large alternates, making the election void and creating vacancies in election. Oregon Republican Party Standing Rule 11.3 allows the state executive committee to fill vacant delegate and alternate positions, and the 21 at-large alternates challenged were filled in this manner. Regardless of the propriety of the Oregon system, it is my opinion that the scattered site convention was conducted in accordance with their Rules. The resulting vacancies in at-large alternate slots due to the 5 pm simultaneous adjournment were filled as provided for in Oregon Rule 11.3. An amendment to the Committee on Contests report was offered to seat those at-large alternate delegates elected from only the 2nd through 5th Districts. I opposed this amendment because it would have disenfranchised the 1st Congressional District. It failed the Committee. Another amendment was offered to recess to allow Oregon delegates to vote to fill their vacancies. I opposed the motion because I found the contest to be without merit. The motion failed the committee. The committee proceeded to vote on the main motion. Therefore, I and my Texas colleague voted to adopt the Committee on Contests’ report denying the contest. The report was adopted by the Committee.