An effort to shake up the GOP primary race is underway in the Lone Star State. The outcome could set the course for a brokered convention by keeping front-runner Mitt Romney from securing enough delegates to win the presidential nomination outright.
David Bellow, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee, told The Daily Caller that he believes there is enough support among committee members to call an emergency SREC meeting to vote on changing the state’s delegate allocation from a proportional to winner-take-all system.
According to Bellow, the effort has support from the necessary 15 SREC members to petition and call for an emergency meeting to make the decision.
In order for the committee to vote they will need a quorum of 50 percent, and in order to change the rules they will need a two-thirds vote of the SREC members in attendance at the emergency meeting.
“I think it is very likely that we get the two-thirds. We have not submitted the petition yet because we kind of want to make sure we have that two-thirds,” said Bellow. “We don’t want to call the meeting and then get there — all the way to Austin — and then not have the votes. So right now we are making sure we have the votes, and it looks like we do have the votes.”
Last year the rules changed to award Texas’ 155 delegates to GOP primary candidates based on the percentage of the vote they capture. Should the effort succeed, the state would award the Texas primary winner all 155 delegates.
If the SREC votes to change the rules, however, they will need to send their decision to the Republican National Committee.
A RNC official told The Daily Caller that in order for Texas to change its rules the state would need to be granted a waiver, which the official said is “unlikely.”
Nevertheless, the mere idea of changing the delegate math could have an impact on the race, Bellow explained.
“Just the simple idea that we might be changing to winner-take-all will likely already have an effect on the race because it could boost the spirits of the Santorum people in Pennsylvania,” Bellow added. “If Santorum does well in Pennsylvania, then that could keep him in the race till Texas or later, thus creating more of a chance for a brokered convention if Romney cannot close out.”
Bellow made it clear, however, that although he is a Rick Santorum supporter, he has always been in favor of winner-take-all. He said that some SREC members in favor of a rule change are not Santorum supporters, but are primarily concerned that Texas has a strong voice.
“We are just tired of being ignored. This is about making Texas relevant instead of having candidates ignore us every election,” he explained.
“Winner take all will shake things up and keep the race alive until Texas votes,” Bellow added. “Santorum will compete hard in Texas because he wants to keep Romney from getting 1144 delegates and force a brokered convention. Romney will want to come to Texas and campaign here to try to get our 155 delegates to help secure his bid for the nomination.”
MSNBC reports that the Santorum campaign is cheering the effort, with spokeswoman Alice Stewart explaining that the Texas rule change could be key.
“Keep an eye on Texas, that’s going to be critical in terms of how the votes play out there, whether it’s winner-take-all or proportional,” Stewart said. “Texas will be critical in the primary election and everyone needs to pay attention to that.”
Still, according to the RNC, the effort is “unlikely” to get the final approval.
Texas voters will cast primary ballots on May 29. Recent polls suggest a competitive race, with the RealClearPolitics polling average showing a 3 percentage point advantage for Santorum over Romney.