GOP preparing for contested convention

Ronald Reagan waves to the crowd on the final night of the Republican National Convention August 19, 1976 in Kansas City, Missouri. Behind Reagan stands (L-R) Gerald Ford's sons Mike Ford, Jack Ford, Steve Ford and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, President Gerald Ford, Betty Ford, and Vice Presidential candidate Bob Dole. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

(by Robert Costa and Tom Hamburger, The Washington Post) – Republican officials and leading figures in the party’s establishment are preparing for the possibility of a brokered convention as businessman Donald Trump continues to sit atop the polls in the GOP presidential race.

More than 20 of them met last Monday near the Capitol for [the monthly] dinner meeting held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, and the prospect of Trump nearing next year’s Republican nominating convention in Cleveland with a significant number of delegates dominated the discussion, according to five people familiar with the meeting.

[Discussing] that scenario as Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) listened, several [Republicans] argued that if the controversial billionaire storms through the primaries, the party’s establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight in which the GOP’s mainstream wing could coalesce [join together] around an alternative, the people said.

The development represents a major shift for veteran Republican strategists, who until this month had spoken of a brokered convention only in the most hypothetical terms — and had tried to encourage a drama-free nomination by limiting debates and setting an earlier convention date.

Now, those same leaders see a floor fight as a real possibility. And so does Trump, who said in an interview last week that he, too, is preparing.

Because of the sensitivity of the topic — and because they are wary of saying something that, if leaked, would provoke Trump to bolt the party and mount an independent bid — Priebus and McConnell were mostly quiet during the back-and-forth. They did not signal support for an overt [open] anti-Trump effort.

But near the end, McConnell and Priebus acknowledged to the group that a deadlocked convention is something the party should prepare for, both institutionally within the RNC and politically at all levels in the coming months.

When asked Thursday about the dinner and convention planning, Sean Spicer, the RNC’s chief strategist and spokesman, said: “The RNC is neutral in this process, and the rules are set until the convention begins next July. Our goal is to ensure a successful nomination, and that requires us thinking through every scenario, including a contested convention.”

During the dinner, attendees [discussed] exactly how a brokered convention would [occur]. It would happen if no candidate was able to win the nomination [with at least 50% of the vote] on a first-ballot vote, starting a multi-ballot exercise on the floor of the arena that could extend for hours until a candidate has secured sufficient support.

Many of the delegates are “bound” on the first ballot, meaning they must support the candidate they chose in primaries or at state conventions. But that restriction would lift if no nominee is chosen. The jockeying for delegates on a second ballot — or third, fourth or fifth — would be intense and full of political dealmaking, thus the term “brokered” convention.

Upon leaving the Monday dinner, several attendees said they would share memos about delegate allocation in each state as well as research about the 1976 convention, the last time the GOP gathered without a clear nominee.

The rules for selection of delegates are complicated — and largely decided state by state. Most states now elect delegates on a proportional basis, with at-large statewide delegates supplemented by delegates awarded by each congressional district.

This makes the task of securing delegates more difficult in many states, because Republican candidates must, in some cases, push for support in overwhelmingly Democratic districts.

They must also qualify for each state’s ballot in order to win any delegates at all, making the arduous [very difficult] series of state-by-state rules governing ballot access a potentially critical factor as well.

The campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) seems to have mastered the intricacies of state ballot access rules and is said to have qualified in more than 40 states and territories, more than any other candidate.

The emerging consensus [general agreement] at the highest levels of the Republican Party about how the 2016 race could unfold comes after a fresh wave of polls showing Trump leading in early-voting states and nationally, even as he continues to unleash incendiary comments such as his proposal to block Muslims from entering the United States. It also marks the close of a months-long chapter in the campaign when a brokered convention was considered a fanciful concept rather than a possibility that merited serious review.

Conservative radio host William J. Bennett, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s education secretary, said the unrest on the right echoes the run-up to the 1976 GOP convention, when Reagan challenged then-President Gerald Ford. But Bennett called this moment “a little more intense.”

“That said, people shouldn’t be panicking, and I think things will calm down when people in the party leadership realize there are core truths to what Trump is saying and he’s not trying to take down the party. For many conservatives, his candidacy is a positive disruption,” Bennett said. “Let things run their course.”

If anything, he added, the GOP convention “may get a ton of interest. People will want to tune in. They won’t tune in to the Democratic coronation [of Hillary Clinton].”  …..

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from The Washington Post. For the original article, visit washingtonpost .com.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the principal organization governing the Democratic Party on a day-to-day basis. While it is responsible for overseeing the process of writing a platform every four years, the DNC’s central focus is on campaign and political activity in support of Democratic Party candidates, and not on public policy. The DNC provides national leadership for the Democratic Party. It is responsible for promoting the Democratic political platform, as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy.  The chairperson of the DNC is U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. The DNC was established at the 1848 Democratic National Convention.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is a U.S. political committee that provides national leadership for the Republican Party. It is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform, as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy. It is also responsible for organizing and running the Republican National Convention. Similar committees exist in every U.S. state and most U.S. counties, although in some states party organization is structured by congressional district, allied campaign organizations being governed by a national committee. Reince Priebus is the current RNC Chairman. The 1856 Republican National Convention appointed the first RNC.



PLEASE NOTE:  Next week look for a special Christmas post. Regular “Daily News Articles” will resume Monday, January 11.  (Also, look for our “2015 Year in Review” news quiz in January as well.) 

1. Define the following words as used in the article:

  • brokered convention
  • contested convention
  • nomination
  • secured
  • delegate
  • proportional

2. What did Republicans discuss during their monthly RNC meeting in Washington last week? Be specific.

3. a) Why don’t RNC Leaders want to appear to be taking sides in the nomination of the candidate?
b) Why do you think RNC leaders don’t want Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee?

4. What would have to occur for a brokered convention to take place?

5. Why is there no chance for a brokered convention for the Democratic Party nominee?

6. Do you agree with conservative radio host Bill Bennett’s assertion about the conventions? Explain your answer.

7. If you were a Republican voter, would you want the Republican establishment to determine who the candidate will be if Trump gets the most votes but not enough to win the nomination outright? Explain your answer.

CHALLENGE: Watch tomorrow night’s debate between the candidates. Pay attention to the questions the moderators ask. Fill in the “Presidential Primary Debate” chart for the questions below:

1. List the candidates who took part in this debate.

2. List three questions asked by the moderator(s).

3. Which question do you think was the most important? Explain your choice.

4. For which question(s) did one or more candidates not give a direct answer, or not clearly answer the question?

5. A debate moderator’s role is to act as a neutral participant in a debate, to hold participants to time limits and to try to keep them from straying off the topic of the questions being raised in the debate. Do you think the moderator(s) in this debate fulfilled this role? Explain your answer.

6. a) Do you think the questions chosen by the moderator(s) helped viewers understand the candidates’ positions on foreign and domestic issues? Explain your answer.
b) Were the moderator’s questions fair to every candidate? Explain your answer.


U.S. presidential nominating convention:

A U.S. presidential nominating convention is a political convention held every four years in the United States by most of the political parties who will be fielding nominees in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. The formal purpose of such a convention is to select the party’s nominee for President, as well as to adopt a statement of party principles and goals known as the platform and adopt the rules for the party’s activities, including the presidential nominating process for the next election cycle. Due to changes in election laws, the primary and caucus calendar, and the manner in which political campaigns are run, conventions since the later half of the 20th century have virtually abdicated their original roles, and are today rarely more than ceremonial affairs.

Generally, usage of “presidential campaign nominating convention” refers to the two major parties’ quadrennial events: the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention. Some minor parties also select their nominees by convention, including the Green Party, Socialist Party USA, Libertarian Party, Constitution Party, and Reform Party USA. (from Wikipedia)

A “superdelegate” is:

  • A “superdelegate” is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention who is seated automatically and chooses for whom they want to vote. These Democratic Party superdelegates include distinguished party leaders, and elected officials, including all Democratic members of the House and Senate and sitting Democratic governors.
  • Other Democratic superdelegates are chosen during the primary season. Democratic superdelegates are free to support any candidate for the nomination. This contrasts with convention “pledged” delegates that are selected based on the party primaries and caucuses in each U.S. state, in which voters choose among candidates for the party’s presidential nomination.
  • Because they are free to support anyone they want, Democratic superdelegates could potentially swing the results to nominate a presidential candidate who did not receive the majority of votes during the primaries.
  • At least in name, superdelegates are not involved in the Republican Party nomination process. There are delegates to the Republican National Convention who are seated automatically, but they are limited to three per state, consisting of the state chairperson and two district-level committee members. Republican Party superdelegates are obliged to vote for their state’s popular vote winner under the rules of the party branch to which they belong.
    (Note: On 3/30/16, this explanation replaced the original explanation of superdelegate. It is from Wikipedia’s page on superdelegates)

Brokered convention:

A brokered convention is a situation in which no single candidate has secured a pre-existing majority of delegates (whether those selected by primary elections and caucuses, or superdelegates) prior to the first official vote for a political party’s presidential candidate at its nominating convention.

Once the first ballot, or vote, has occurred, and no candidate has a majority of the delegates’ votes, the convention is then considered brokered; thereafter, the nomination is decided through a process of alternating political horse-trading, and additional re-votes.

In this circumstance, all regular delegates (who, previously, may have been pledged to a particular candidate according to rules which vary from state to state) are “released,” and are able to switch their allegiance to a different candidate before the next round of balloting. It is hoped that this ‘freedom’ will result in a re-vote resulting in a clear majority of delegates for one candidate.

Superdelegate votes are counted on the first ballot.

Although the term “brokered convention” is sometimes used to refer to a convention where the outcome is decided by superdelegate votes rather than pledged delegates alone, this is not the original sense of the term. Like a brokered convention, the potentially decisive role played by superdelegates can often go against the popular vote from the primaries and caucuses. (from Wikipedia)

Brokered conventions in history

  • Before the era of presidential primary elections, political party conventions were routinely brokered.
  • The Democratic Party required two-thirds of delegates to choose a candidate, starting with the first Democratic National Convention in 1832, and then at every convention from 1844 until 1936. This made it far more likely to have a brokered convention, particularly when two strong factions existed.
  • The most infamous example was at the 1924 Democratic National Convention, where the divisions between Wets and Drys on Prohibition (and other issues) led to 102 ballots of deadlock between frontrunners Alfred E. Smith and William G. McAdoo before dark horse John W. Davis was chosen as a compromise candidate on the 103rd ballot.
  • Adlai Stevenson (of the 1952 Democratic Party) and Thomas E. Dewey (of the 1948 Republican Party) were the most recent “brokered convention” presidential nominees.
  • The last winning U.S. presidential nominee produced by a brokered convention was Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1932. (from Wikipedia)
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