RNC Rules Member: Party Lawyers Fought To Keep 8 State Threshold Rule

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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Morton Blackwell, Virginia Republican National Committeeman and member of the RNC’s Standing Committee on Rules, explains in a piece at Red State how party lawyers double crossed him and stifled his attempt to amend a much-talked about 2012 convention rule.

Created by the Mitt Romney campaign in Tampa at the 2012 GOP convention, Rule 40(b) stops votes from being counted for candidates who could not prove majority support from at least eight state delegations. It also mandates that candidates meet the eight-state threshold “not less than one (1) hour prior to the placing of the names of candidates for nomination pursuant to this rule and the established order of business.”

“In other words, when the first ballot begins, no additional candidates can qualify to receive votes that will be counted,” Blackwell writes, noting the rule was created to ensure GOP presidential candidate Texas Rep. Ron Paul was not eligible, as the previous threshold was “proof of plurality support from the delegations of five states.”

“That unfairness threw out the votes earned by all candidates except Romney. This caused a bitter commotion on the convention floor in Tampa and hurt Romney in the November election,” Blackwell says.

Many cite the rule as an obstacle not only for front-runner Donald Trump but for the other Republican candidates still vying for the nomination as well.

Fellow RNC Rules Committee member and North Dakota GOP National Committeeman Curly Haugland told The Daily Caller Tuesday, “The nominee of the party must receive a majority of the votes of the permanently feted delegates of the convention.”

He added, “That means it doesn’t make any difference what has happened in terms of primary voters, because they don’t count at the convention. It’s only the delegates at the convention whose votes matter,” he said disapprovingly of how the rule is currently drawn up. Haugland plans to propose an amendment to rule 40(b) at the convention that would place 8 2016 GOP candidates on the ballot in the first round.

During January’s RNC meeting in Charleston, South Carolina, Blackwell proposed an amendment to the rules that “the votes of all credentialed delegates properly cast according to state party rule and state law shall be reported by the state delegation chairman, repeated by the Convention Secretary, and included in the Convention Chairman’s announced tally of the votes on that ballot.”

According to Blackwell, the Rules Committee passed his amendment, but the RNC’s General counsel, who previously spoke in favor of the amendment, among others at the meeting, backtracked a few minutes later after gathering with other members and lawyers who were present.

Blackwell explained, “Then the General Counsel moved to reconsider my amendment which the Standing Committee had just passed with his support. It became clear that the powers-that-be had switched signals. The motion to reconsider my amendment passed.”

“Then the General Counsel moved to delete from my amendment the words ‘and included in the Convention Chairman’s announced tally of votes on that ballot.’ His motion passed, restoring that Romney power grab from the Tampa convention.”

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