Republican Party officials move forward on primary changes

The Republican National Committee has been discussing, somewhat quietly, ways in which it can garner more control over the nomination process including primary dates and the number of debates.

CNN has the story:

In a series of closed-door meetings since August, handpicked members of the Republican National Committee have been meeting with party Chairman Reince Priebus in Washington to hash out details of a sweeping plan to condense the nominating calendar, severely punish primary and caucus states that upend the agreed-upon voting order and potentially move the party’s national convention to earlier in the summer, with late June emerging as the ideal target date.

No party convention has been held that early since the steamy summer of 1948, when Republicans nominated Thomas Dewey as their standard bearer in Philadelphia.

And what about the number of debates?

The 17-member special rules subcommittee tasked with reforming the nominating process, appointed with little fanfare at the RNC’s summer meeting in Boston, is also considering ways to limit the number of Republican primary debates in 2016, though the group has yet to agree to any specific rules related to debates. The 2012 campaign saw an eye-popping 20 Republican debates, in addition to an array of multicandidate forums.

Priebus and other top party figures have made no secret of their desire to scale back the number of debates, which offered little-known candidates such as Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain a chance to shine but forced Mitt Romney, the eventual nominee, to publicly stake out a number of conservative positions that came back to haunt him in the general election.

Note the last sentence, emphasis mine. That would appear to be an effort by the party bigwigs to minimize the messy process for the supposed “front-runner” of the race, does it not?

Here is a rundown of the new rules amendments taking shape out of this committee:

– The first four early-voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — would continue to hold their contests in February.

– The first four early-voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — would continue to hold their contests in February.

To prevent other states from jumping the order and compelling the first four to move their dates even earlier as they did in 2012, any state that attempts to hold its nominating contest before March 1 would have their number of delegates to the convention slashed to just nine people or, in the case of smaller states, one-third of their delegation — whichever number is smaller.

“It’s the death penalty,” said one member of the subcommittee. If Florida violates RNC rules and holds its primary in February, its 99-member delegation would all but vanish.

– Any state holding a primary or caucus during the first two weeks of March must award its delegates proportionally, rather than winner-take-all.

The measure is designed to prevent a candidate from catching fire in the early states and then riding a burst of momentum to winner-take-all victories in expensive, delegate-rich states such as Florida or Texas. The early March window would give underfunded, insurgent candidates a chance to prove their mettle.

“It will allow a grassroots candidate to stay in the race and try to raise money and score some wins,” said Smack. “If they can’t score wins by that time, they probably need to pack it in and try again four years later.”

– States holding a contest after March 15 can decide to award their delegates however they see fit.

– The Republican National Convention will be held either in late June or early July, though ideally on a date before the July 4 holiday.

The decision on where to hold the convention will be made at a later date by a separate RNC panel, but Las Vegas and Kansas City are seen as two early frontrunners. Party officials said each city’s host committee seems willing and able to raise the nearly $60 million needed to fund a sprawling convention.

Any thoughts on this? I’d be reporting on rules changes and discussions within Democratic Party circles but, so far, things have been quiet on that front. I’d say they must be fairly pleased with winning the last two presidential elctions and probably don’t see a need to change all that much.

  • Bob

    The republican party has always relied on running a primogeniture candidate and this is the first time in quite a while where the party doesn’t really have one.Even in 2008 when Vice President Cheney decided not to run the party had 2000 runner up Senator McCain to pick up the baton. Rep. Ryan seems content on running his finance committees in Congress and I don’t see him running.

    The infighting amongst the republican party has been getting a lot of press as of late which brings me to three observations. The first being according to establishment protocol you can never criticize the candidate.

    If you criticize before the election you get accused of hurting the republican chances.

    If you criticize after the republican wins the election the republican is supposed to have a “honeymoon” period.

    If you criticize after the honeymoon period you may hurt the mid-term elections.

    If you criticize after the mid-terms you hurt his re-election chances.

    Now being a conservative I don’t believe a wisp of this cockamamie logic. But what I do believe is my second observation that the republican party is made up of two wings. The Reagan wing where we believe in limited government and the Bush wing which believes in big government compassionate conservatism. They are not compatible philosophies and it makes no sense to expect things to change.

    Now for my last observation which is a quote from an editor of National Review named Frank S. Meyer “There is nothing sacred about the Republican party. It deserves the loyalty of Conservatives only as long as it is Conservative.”

    • obvious

      Bob — LOL!

      Not only funny but also superbly stated!
      Kudos!

  • Betty Lewis

    LOL! With all the major difficulties they worry over dates? Give me a break!

  • http://gravatar.com/samreusser samreusser

    It is highly unlikely that Pubs will get their fecal matter consolidated, or have a cohesive strategy, or setup to support one lead candidate. Clinton will not be jailed for her atrocity, so I’m guessing she will outdistance and Pub.

  • Bobby Ray

    What the Republican establishment doesn’t get is that although the big donors and pundits are with them, the enthusiasm, energy, and primal conservative commitment are on the right. That’s why Team Obama used the IRS to financially handcuff conservative groups during the campaign.

    This fission is so fundamental – as Bob says, the Reagan Wing vs. the Bush Wing – that it will never dissolve. More voters are conservative than profess any other ideology. Tea Party and other conservatives need to spin off from the Republican Party, join with the Conservative and Libertarian Parties – among others – and form a new conservative “Patriot (or “Liberty”) Party.” I’d be proud to identify myself as a Patriot; I no longer will be a Republican.

    For example, the Country hates Obamacare more than ever. How many congressional members do you think would now vote against repeal?

    Before passing the Ryan-Murray budget agreement, Senate conservatives should require that the Senate to have a straight up-or-down vote on repealing Obamacare. Let’s hold the Obamacare supporters’ feet to the fire for once.

    Will Reid shut down the government to avoid that vote? I doubt it.

    Between official corruption and a growing majority of dumbed-down voters, the chance for a democratic reversal of the statist trend in the U.S. will continue to diminish.

    Let’s have OUR primary candidates and not be restricted to choosing among theirs.

  • obvious

    sounds like a mild case of stalinist diarrhea — designed to purge the tea party….

  • Goethe Behr

    This might be more appropriately in the “new media” thread, but I think it applies here. I’m thinking the primary debates should only be reported online. It is more likely that only party people would bother to follow it, rather than having a TV circus, in which the candidates can become over-exposed with the general public before they are ready to battle the other party.

    • http://gravatar.com/samreusser samreusser

      Gothe – Concur!

    • Bob

      Geothe;

      What exactly makes you believe that the debates could ONLY BE REPORTED ONLINE? I’m sure you aren’t naive enough to believe that the MSM would sit back and not pick up a tape and dissect it for quips and talking points before the general public.

      Now you are the one under estimating human nature.

      • Goethe Behr

        Bob: Two things.

        First, if it’s just “on the news” people know it’s taken out of context.

        Second, it’s about exposure. Even if Willard had not said stupid and conflict-flopping things, there’s the issue of over-exposure. I’ll bet if people had been polled, they woulda said they’re sick of ALL those guys, by the time it was done.

        • Bob

          Goethe;

          Well there you go again with more faith in human nature than I could ever partake in.

          “THINKING PEOPLE” would know it’s taken out of context. Unfortunately as you stated earlier only a portion of the population follow politics devoutly.

          Always enjoy having a discussion with you.

          • Goethe Behr

            Thanks, B.

            Always enjoy dueling with someone who can keep things in perspective.

            But I think the very fact that most people don’t give a crap is a saving grace. Inertia is a powerful force.

            • Betty Lewis

              You re so right!