Cruz Might Have an Outsized Influence on the Convention
Attention is on who will oversee the Republican National Convention. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is slated to do the job, but he has refused to say he’ll support Donald Trump, and after all, it is Trump’s party. So Trump says he may replace Ryan, and Ryan says if he is replaced, he won’t serve (well, duh). But that’s not all the drama.
We have not heard the last of Ted Cruz. He plans to have a major impact on the rules for this convention and future conventions. And considering that he has packed even the Trump contingents with Cruz supporters, he may just get his way, according to Politico.
Ted Cruz has given up on running as the Republican party’s presidential nominee, but he hasn’t given up on running the Republican party.
When Cruz heads to Republican National Convention this summer, he’ll bring a list of ideas for changing the way the party governs itself and picks its presidential nominee. He’ll also bring plenty of backup: hundreds of delegates who were handpicked by the Cruz campaign.
Of course, he’s not alone. Trump has his own ideas of how the party should run. And the authors of the 2013 “party autopsy” will also be there in force. Cruz has six points to focus on (edited for space, numerals added).
1) CLOSED PRIMARIES: This is the tailor-made cause for Cruz: prohibiting Democrats and independents from participating in the Republican presidential nominating contest. It would instantly jolt the presidential nominating process to the right, a dynamic that would boost a conservative insurgent like Cruz. . .
Look for proposals that would incentivize states to move away from open primaries, but also stiffer plans that would penalize those states that refuse. The more forceful the proposal, the more Cruz would benefit in a campaign rematch. The fight pits two enduring GOP principles against each other: the right to have Republicans pick the Republican presidential nominee and the autonomy of states to make their own choices.
2) THE CONSCIENCE CLAUSE: Delegates have, in recent election years, bound themselves to the results of presidential primaries and caucuses when choosing their nominee. However, conservative delegates are kicking around a proposal they say would release them from any obligations if the presumptive nominee holds views that dramatically contradict their own beliefs. . .part of a broader attempt to return more autonomy to delegates who have ceded it to GOP voters in recent cycles.
3) REWRITING THE CALENDAR: Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina lead off the vetting of presidential contenders, and since 2008, Nevada has been the first-in-the-West contest as well. But after this year season, that calendar is getting a second look, and early states face attack from later-voting ones that are sick of being forced into bystander status. . .[There’s] a proposal that would establish an early-state rotation — one from each region — to ensure every state gets an occasional chance to hosts the early contests that winnow the GOP field. . .[Or] buttress early states like New Hampshire and South Carolina — which permit crossover voting from non-Republicans — with a larger number of states that only allow registered Republicans to vote.
4) KILLING RULE 40B: This controversial rule prohibits presidential candidates from placing themselves into nomination unless they get signed petitions from the majority of delegates in eight states. It used to be five – but Mitt Romney’s forces jacked up the threshold to block Ron Paul from sharing the stage in 2012. . .
Its primary function is to block candidates from delivering brief nomination speeches on the same stage as the GOP front-runner – and when networks only carry one hour of prime-time convention TV per night, every minute is precious.
5) REVOKING THE RNC’s RULEMAKING AUTHORITY: It was considered a striking break from history when, in 2012, the Convention Rules Committee adopted a rule that permitted the RNC to revise crucial rules between conventions. Typically, once the convention rules were set, they were locked in for four years.
Ceding limited control to the RNC in 2012 gave the RNC leadership more control of the nominating process than ever. And after a season in which Trump assailed the RNC as a pillar of the establishment, there may be less of an appetite to award it the same authority.
6) KILLING DELEGATE BINDING: Curly Haugland, a notoriously maverick RNC Committeeman from North Dakota, has argued for years that the current GOP rules don’t actually force delegates to vote according to the results of primaries and caucus. A rule added in 2008 that includes binding language, he argues, actually has no power over the convention because it was adopted improperly and conflicts with other existing rules.
Haugland plans to pair this effort with a proposal to eliminate the GOP convention altogether. His argument: if delegates are to simply cast pro forma votes based on the results of primaries and caucuses, why convene an expensive and largely meaningless gathering at all?
The New York Times suggests five ways that the convention could be lively.
1) THE VOTE FOR VICE PRESIDENT: Convention delegates are under no obligation to vote for the vice-presidential candidate Mr. Trump chooses. That vote is held separately, and if enough delegates object to Mr. Trump’s choice for any reason — too liberal, too moderate, too inexperienced, too much of an insider — they can vote the nomination down. . .
2) A PLATFORM FIGHT: Tensions among party factions could surface through the process of assembling the party’s platform, the document that spells out its policy positions. In a contentious convention it is easy to envision a scenario in which conservatives look to insert new language to take a hard line on issues that Mr. Trump has not made central to his campaign. . .
3) TED CRUZ’ DELEGATES: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has a large and loyal following that will be eager to hear from him on the party’s biggest stage. He gets to deliver a speech no matter what, but it is up to Mr. Trump to decide whether that happens in prime time or in the lonely viewing hours of afternoon. . .
4) SETTING THE TONE: Mr. Cruz probably wants more than just a speech, as he hinted this week by urging his delegates to push the party platform in a more conservative direction. His cooperation, and the Trump campaign’s willingness to negotiate, will set the convention’s tone. . .
5) A POTENTIAL CURVEBALL: The convention is essentially a living body, with rules and procedures that can be modified or discarded to suit the desires of the delegates. . .Mr. Trump could be stopped with just a single-word change requiring the nominee to receive a supermajority of votes at the convention rather than the majority currently required. Mr. Trump, after all, had floated changing majority to plurality when it was not clear he would win the 1,237 delegates. . .
The Republican National Convention takes place the week of July 18th to the 21st.