Contested GOP Convention: It’s Been A Possibility For a Long Time

This is from an email I sent around to some editors in mid-October. Nobody bit on it, but I decided there may some value in pointing out that it wasn’t only recently that one could see a reasonable possibility of a contested convention:

It looks likely that there will be a slow war of attrition, with numerous candidates bunched together, and no “establishment” figure showing signs of breaking free and dominating the race. With a large, evenly matched field, small vote margins, underfunded and understaffed campaigns and the resulting differences in delegates allotted, will likely lead to intense controversy, appeals to the RNC, and possibly even litigation.

Compounding this potential problem is an FEC that’s been rendered toothless, so with no effective deterrent campaigns will be tempted to flout campaign finance laws. The RNC has proven unable to stand up to Trump‘s threats, and probably can’t as long as it fears he would run as an independent.

Then there’s the problem of administration: in 2012 the Iowa Republican party–which runs the caucuses–did such a poor job that it was impossible to know who actually won. The Nevada caucuses were disputed. In Maine some caucuses where Ron Paul was expected to do well were canceled. It is even a question whether all the top candidates will qualify for the ballot in all states; in 2012, for instance, only Romney, Paul and I think one other candidate qualified for the ballot in Virginia.

It will then be a question whether delegates will vote at the convention consistent with the results in their states’ primaries and caucuses. The RNC has made numerous rule changes since 2008 which may be challenged or even ignored; in fact, Colorado canceled its primary, and it will send an entire slate of uncommitted delegates to the convention, where they will be permitted to vote however they wish. Because of this in Colorado and possibly elsewhere, the delegate selection process–which goes on for two to four months after the initial primary or caucus vote–will likely be a series of political firefights, all over the country (as it was in some states in 2012, when Ron Paul factions often outmaneuvered the Romney-aligned party regulars).

In short, nearly every week from early January to the conclusion of the RNC convention is mined with threats to the legitimacy of the Republican nomination process, and possibly even the candidacy of the eventual nominee.

Next time I pitch something and don’t get interest, I’ll post it here.


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