RNC Rules Member: Changes To Binding Delegates ‘Unlikely’

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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Morton Blackwell, Virginia Republican National Committeeman and long time member of the RNC’s Standing Rules Committee, dispels any notion that delegates at the convention this summer can vote for whomever they want on the first ballot.

Fellow Rules Committee member and North Dakota Republican National Committeeman Curly Haugland sent a letter to RNC members claiming that any delegate at the convention should be able to support any candidate they wish on the first round of balloting.

“I have heard nothing about changes with respect to the binding of delegates except from Curly. And I think it’s highly unlikely that anything relating to the binding of delegations or binding delegates is going to be altered,” Blackwell told The Daily Caller Tuesday.

He added, “In fact, I believe that while it was possible in January to dispassionately discuss changes of the rules respecting the procedures at the convention in terms of what is most fair and what is most helpful to the Republican Party, that time has passed.”

The RNC held a seasonal meeting back in January in Charleston, South Carolina where Blackwell proposed an amendment at a Rules Committee meeting that would remove the Mitt Romney campaign change that happened during the 2012 Tampa Convention.

“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.”

Although his proposal passed the committee, it was immediately voted to be reconsidered, a move prompted by RNC lawyers present, minutes after its passage.

“They didn’t reveal any motivation as they did it. It was an unusual circumstance because they passed my whole proposal and then moved to reconsider and then gutted it by amending my amendment, but only that portion that said that all legitimate votes cast had to be included in the final tally whether or not anybody had formerly been nominated beforehand,” said Blackwell.

According to Blackwell, before the primaries and caucuses started, one does not know how a change in the rules might harm or hurt certain candidates as opposed to the present.

“Now you can have a pretty good idea as to who will be helped and who will be hurt and anybody who perceives that he’s going to be hurt is going to loudly and justifiably cry found that it’s not fair.”

He noted that if a candidate comes to the convention with a majority of all the delegates (1,237), then all of these matters will not affect who the GOP nominee is.

“Things can be done unfairly, like allowing legitimately elected credentialed and seated delegates who are voting in conformity with their state party rules and state law say OK even so your vote cannot be counted. That’s unfair. But it won’t change the results if the candidate has found delegates who are allocated by primaries added on to unbound delegates who are voluntarily voting for a candidate,” he said, noting that changing the rules in a way that results in changing who is nominated could not be done without a “ferocious rules battle” that could split the party.

The only people under current rules who will still be around and able to have votes cast and counted for them will be people who were eligible to have votes cast and counted for them on the first ballot, Blackwell stressed.

“There is no provision for nominating somebody else. And there is a specific prohibition against votes being counted for anybody who wasn’t nominated after passing the eight state threshold,” he said in reference to Rule 40b, which requires a GOP nominee to have the majority support of delegates in at least eight states.

“There may very well be a move to amend these rules and have the votes be cast in some other fashion. Somebody could move my proposed amendment and my proposed amendment was legitimate at the time I put it forward.”

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