Republican Party Insiders Reject Rules Change

Republican Party insiders vote down a proposal to change the rules for the nominating convention.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus makes a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus makes a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

Republican Party insiders rejected a proposed rules change on Thursday that could have made it easier to nominate someone other than Donald Trump for the presidency.

The party’s 56-member rules committee, with representatives from every states, overwhelmingly voted down a proposal introduced by Oregon’s Solomon Yue that would have switched the rule book of the nominating convention this summer from those of the United States House of Representatives, which have been used at Republican national conventions for decades, to Robert’s Rules of Order, which is common in civic and organizational meetings.

“We’re basically in the seventh inning of a ballgame and I don’t think it’s right to change the rules of the game in the middle of the game,” argued Randy Evans, a committeeman from Georgia. “Any change we make would be viewed with a very large degree of cynicism.”

John Ryder, a member from Tennessee who also serves as the Republican National Committee’s counsel, warned that it could “subject this committee to enormous political criticism.”

Donald Trump, the New York businessman currently in the lead, has already denounced the nominating process as “rigged”.

Power to the delegates

Robert’s Rules would take power away from the chairman of the convention, likely to be House speaker Paul Ryan, and give it to the delegates themselves. Any delegate with an objection would then have to be recognized by the presiding officer.

Supporters argue that this would make the convention more democratic and more transparent.

But opponents worry that it would be perceived as an attempt to take the nomination away from Trump.

The property tycoon and television personality has so far won a plurality of the delegates but is still likely to fall short of the 1,237 needed to win the nomination outright. Many delegates would be unbound after a first ballot and could defect to another candidate, like Texas senator Ted Cruz. Robert’s Rules might be used to nominate a third person, someone who hasn’t been contesting the primaries.

Proponents of a rules change have one last chance. That is when the convention’s, rather than the party’s, rules committee gathers. Its 112 members — two from every state plus party leaders — will make the final decision on how the conclave is run.

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