Rule Change Upsets Grassroots Republicans

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

Unity is often a message or theme of political conventions.  They are the official device used to smooth over any lingering wounds left open from bitter primary battles.  There are multiple days of messaging to remind party members that they are the party “faithful”.  They are now one ticket, with one purpose.  Good party members put aside their differences and line up behind candidate, platform, agenda, and message.

Or that’s how the script reads anyway.

With a TEA Party infused grass roots, unity has its limits.  Mitt Romney’s convention team is now attempting to quell a rebellion from within its most fervent ranks, much of it originating from within Georgia’s own delegation.

The dispute is over a rules change on how delegates for the 2016 convention will be selected. The aim is to avoid a repeat of this year’s efforts by Ron Paul’s supporters to pack the convention with delegates who aren’t interested in a unity agenda.  Paul’s people were able to pack some state and district GOP conventions and nominate delegates loyal to him, and who aren’t buying in to the thought that they are pledged to any candidate based on primary vote.

The new rules would have given the presumptive nominee the ability to choose delegates of his liking, essentially vetoing any delegate that was not a backer of the standard bearer.  Opposition grew quickly for a variety of reasons.  The official protest waged by TEA Party groups was that this up-ended the control of the party from being a grass roots based organization into one that is dictated from the top down.

It was a message that resonated throughout Monday, with a letter written by Georgia delegate and TEA Party co-founder Julianne Thompson.  The letter made it way via email, twitter, and internet postings throughout the delegations, and was amplified Monday evening by conservative media celebrities such as Michelle Malkin and Mark Levin.

Thompson asks “Why the change in rules? That is the million-dollar question, and it is fairly easy to answer.  There are still those in place in the GOP and on campaigns that would like to use the delegate and alternate seats as rewards for donating large checks to campaigns and the RNC.”

The concerns of some other non-TEA Party delegates are also embedded within that concept as well.  After all, the power to reward is the power to punish.  States who did not originally vote for Romney, including Georgia whose establishment originally backed Newt Gingrich throughout its primary, could see current delegates replaced with those who expressed an earlier loyalty to the ultimate winner.  That has some realizing that the seats they occupy this week to ratify their place of importance within the party could be occupied by someone else in 4 years who was more loyal to the eventual nominee.

Late Monday, rules committee members sent an email announcing a compromise had been reached, a potential floor fight averted – maybe.  The new proposal indicates that a delegate who does not follow his or her state’s law or party rules when voting for a Presidential candidate is deemed to have resigned upon casting said vote, and the vote is null and void.  The language is designed to add enforceability to the pledged delegate rules, yet still preserve the individual state’s selection process for delegates.

Crisis averted?  Maybe not.  Atlanta TEA Party co-founder and RNC delegate Debbie Dooley posted a note to Facebook early Tuesday calling for continued pushback.  “This compromise seems unacceptable, as , via Rule 12, it still allows changes to be made to the rules at an time during the year, meaning, seemingly, any compromise reached now on other rules could be undone after the convention.”

The issue will likely be resolved Tuesday, well before prime time cameras begin to project the message of unity.  The convention will then proceed to showcase that divisions from the primary season have been healed.  It remains to be seen how these new ones may fester.


  1. Three Jack says:

    It is much easier to unify when there is something to unify around. So far the GOP has played to socially concerned delegates over the more relevant fiscally conscious members. Certainly not the first time this has happened and likely won’t be the last. But if the the GOP really seeks unity, it needs to realize that memoralizing punishment against women for being the victim of rape and/or incest does nothing to meet that goal.

  2. drjay says:

    on the surface, i don’t like the rule change–but if you put aside the assertion that the powers that be want to reward check writers with delegate spots and look at this convention in a vacuum, i can see why the rank and file are concerned. the “ron paul faction” is different than any i’ve ever seen in that they often appear like they are not interested in following the rules and participating in the reality that is presented to them which makes it hard to deal with them rationally

    • Jimmie says:

      You’re full of it. Ron Paul people followed RRoO very closely. However the Chair of many conventions did not. There are multiple videos to prove it. This rule is a bunch of crap. As with this Primary, the nominee was picked well before the charade started. The RNC was behind Romney the whole way. This is where the rule is nonsense. GA was overwhelmingly won by Gingrich. As far as any of the Paul supporters who advanced to Tampa were going to pledge for Newt. Had Newt not assumed the position and got in line (after all he spent months telling us how bad Romney is), there would have been a brokered Convention and after the 2nd round, all delegates would have been unbound. The GOP broke their own rules from the County Conventions all the way to the National one, to maintain the power and control of the Party. The great thing about this is they were exposed big time and have pissed off a large motivated part of the Party. Combine the RP crowd with the dif. factions of the Tea Party and it will be interesting in the near future.

      • TheEiger says:

        It’s hard to trust a guy who runs as a Libertarian in 1988 bashing Republicans all along the way and then rejoins the party he hates so much to ask for us to vote for him for President. Leadership isn’t always voting no. I guess you believe Ron Paul leadership is throwing earmarks for your district into already bloated budgets and then voting no to give yourself cover. You Paul supporters always tell us to open up our eyes, but you are the ones that are blind at times. You talk about the the rules, the Constitution, and Democracy all the time but when these things don’t go your way you want to cry foul. The plain and simple fact is that you didn’t have the votes to make your guy the nominee.

        • Engineer says:

          The problem with earmarks is that if Congress does not put in those earmarks, the president gets to earmark those funds. I guess you must prefer a Obama’s choices then.

          “The plain and simple fact is that you didn’t have the votes to make your guy the nominee.” I’m not debating that, in fact, I wouldn’t have even cared had the RNC not acted so underhandedly and change rules literally at the last minute. Instead of playing nice and letting things die down, they do the opposite and fire people back up.

          • Jimmie says:

            Exactly. It almost seems they are trying to sabotage their own G.E. It’s not a matter of winning anything. It’s the rule breaking and blatant cronyism. Is the RNC that confident in their future numbers that they can completely alienate a very large and rapidly expanding group of conservatives? Low down dirty tactics. Come November I hope you’ll remember these couple of days. It will come back to haunt the RNC.

  3. Ken says:

    Forget the Paulistas in this matter.

    It changes the delegate process from a grassroots, bottom-up approach to a dictatorial farce. It’s not good for any of us who believe in the way the Republican Party works.

    • drjay says:

      i do not agree with the rule change, i’m just saying i can see why it might appeal to a presumptive nominee, and really the delegate process changed to system more conducive to a much more top down process when they began tying the delegates to primary totals- “the process” as it exists in ga is a little weird really as there is no connect between the delegate and the candidate right now–which is what allowed the ronulans the creative strategy that they employed this year…

      • Ken says:

        I understand, but there is some legal connection. Georgia delegates are bound for the first two ballots or until the candidate to whom they are bound releases them, whichever comes first.

        Candidates have the ability to make known their wishes for specific national delegates prior to the district and state conventions which is when national delegates are elected.

  4. Subnuke98 says:

    There wasn’t going to be an insurrection, so why provoke one.
    Why doesn’t anybody every mention that the Democrats already snub their state delegates. Look how they treated their delegates from West Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas where Obama only got 60% of the vote. I would have added Kentucky also, but ‘Uncommitted’ doesn’t get delegates anyway. They just want a re-accumulation of their messiah and all you little people from the sticks just shut up.

    • caroline says:

      I think you need to check that 60% of the vote. IIRC, Hillary won those states during the primaries not Obama.

      • Subnuke98 says:

        2012 Coroline, not 2008. Remember Obama almost lost to a Federal inmate with a mullet. Yeah, that was THIS year.

      • SallyForth says:

        Good point, caroline. Hillary actually won the primary in 2008, not Obama. The DNC Rules Committee denied her the nomination and handed it to him by counting Florida and Michigan voters as 1/2 person each. (shades of things past….) In essence, a majority of Democrats nationwide voted for Hillary in the ’08 primary, but the DNC overruled the vote of the people. Kewl, huh?

  5. seenbetrdayz says:

    A+ in spin for the Paul paragraph.

    Paul wasn’t going to have the delegates to win a nomination, period. What did he get, like 200 votes?

    The fact that Team Romney Inc. was pushing to change the rules reeked of paranoia. “Oh god, it’s not enough to win this nomination with 90% of the delegate vote. We must have it all. ALL OF IT.”

    If you aren’t seeing the forest for the trees, Romney was trying to make sure he doesn’t get contested in a primary challenge in 2016, should he win this November. For example, if Republicans had woken up to the fact that Bush was a big-spender in 2004 and wanted to change that, then, well, under these rules, it would have been much harder to replace him before he could do any more damage in a 2nd term. Of course, no one wanted to challenge Bush from within the party of unity (defined as, ‘shut up and don’t you dare point out any potential problems’) so that’s how you guys lost credibility and we ended up with Obama. That lesson seems to still be unlearned.

    If that doesn’t send up all sorts of red flags for what might be expected of a Romney presidency, I don’t know what would.

    Personally, I don’t think it would matter.

    Romney won’t win.

    • Noway says:

      I agree. Quite simply, we have too many folks getting too much free stuff from Uncle. They vote for a living. Lincoln could be dug up, brought back and get the GOP nod. Wouldn’t matter. Hail Freeloaders, Hail!!

      • Noway says:

        And I’m ready to incur yall’s wrath on this one: If the Repubs don’t win this year, it’s over as a national party. Won’t win again for a long time. Can you tell how upbeat I am? Where’s my Prosac?

        • seenbetrdayz says:

          I beg to differ.

          If repubs *win* this year, it’s over for the national party.

          Losing doesn’t damage a party. Winning and then blowing your credibility is what damages a party. Romney is a ticking timb-bomb in that regard. The warning sirens are going off that if you press on with a candidate who changes his stance on issues every five minutes, you’re setting independents up for another G. W. Bush-aftertaste. Obama didn’t just pop up out of the blue because Republicans were doing such a great job. People wanted ‘change’, and most folks don’t ‘change’ things that are going well.

          At this point, it would be safer to lose in November, than win a chance to have another catastrophic blow to the party’s image.

            • seenbetrdayz says:

              That was a pretty good read—my personal opinions on Mitch McConnell notwithstanding. I’m not much of a fan.

              I’m reminded of a quote:

              ‘A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must, instead, be one thing to all people.’

              But speaking as to blame, both parties have fallen victim to a ‘follow the leader’ complex. The worst possible thing is for a party to control both the presidency and the Congress. How many times in this administration, particularly the first two years when democrats ruled supreme, has Obama pointed at something he wants and Democrats in Congress gave it to him? That’s not the purpose of a Congress, to give up its powers to an executive branch. If GOPers were honest with themselves, they would realize that the same thing happened during the Bush administration.

              And if we actually had a government that operates as it is designed, the presidency would be the *weakest* branch of government. I wonder if the founders would have ever envisioned a time in this country where the president of the U.S. holds more power in his little finger, than the royals in Britain.

              You guys sure you want this presidency?

  6. Harry says:

    To put a positive spin on the delegate rule change, let’s say the Tea Party has shown the ability and will continue to win primaries. Assuming Romney is elected and stands for re-election in 2016, whoever in 2020 can win the support of the Tea Party, the Paulistas and other Young Turk reform elements, will win primaries and get the chance to succeed Romney. This non-establishment person will not come with a lot of money. It will be useful for the campaign to fill delegate seats with pledged fat cats who are able to put together the big money.

    Up until now, being a delegate is merely an honor and reward for hard volunteer work or position. This just shifts the “honor” of filling the delegate seat over from volunteers to those who can put more money into a campaign, which after all is what a reform candidate needs most in a general election assuming they don’t sell the seats in return for favors. The volunteers show up anyway for a galvanizing and charismatic candidate – but money is essential post-nomination to close the deal in November with unmotivated or undecided voters.

    • SallyForth says:

      I hate to rain on your parade, but this is a little trick the Democrats already did in 2008 – all the state at-large delegates had to be cleared by the Obama campaign. The district delegates had to be cleared by either Obama or Hillary, then the Hillary delegates had to agree to vote for Obama in Denver, after the June meeting of the DNC rules committee handed the nomination to him.

      Welcome to modern politics in the U.S. And, yes, there is that money thing you mentioned….

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