RNC: Penalties against states for moving primary date will be enforced

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus reiterated that Florida would be penalized for violating Republican National Committee rules and moving its primary to January 31, throwing the schedule into chaos.

“They, by rule, will automatically lose half their delegates [to the convention],” Priebus told ABC’s Jonathan Karl. “There’s no discretion, there’s no coming back, there’s no kumbaya that’s going to happen in two months — the nominee’s not going to be able to do a thing about it. They’re going to lose half of their delegates and that’s a pretty serious penalty.”

The convention is being held in Florida.

Priebus said that South Carolina and New Hampshire would also be penalized for moving their primaries into January, even though they are permitted to hold their primaries earlier than other states.

Those states will “lose half of their delegates, even though it’s not necessarily their fault,” Priebus said.

“I don’t have any discretion to undo the penalty. The penalty’s there, the penalty’s going to stick, and that’s all there is to it,” he said.

Despite the chaos that has surrounded the primary calendar for the past several weeks, Priebus said the end result was a success.

“You should be saying thanks. Everything’s straight. You’re welcome,” he said.”

“This should be totally positive … Forty-nine out of fifty states, including six territories, followed line by line the RNC rules,” he added.

Josh Putnam, a visiting professor at Davidson College and an elections expert, said that the issue was how the penalties would be enforced. In a conversation in September, he speculated that if there was a presumptive nominee by the time the convention rolled around, that person was likely to allow all the states to have their full number of delegates “to unify the party behind him.”

“The question in my mind — and this was not answered definitively in his interview with Jonathan Karl — is how this will be enforced in the end … You’ll notice that Priebus says that the early states in 2012 will lose half of their ‘delegate strength.’ That does not close the door on a repeat of the type of enforcement used in 2008,” Putnam said. In 2008, the RNC allowed all the delegates from punished states to vote, but each got only half of a vote.

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