Is The GOP Prepared To #FreeTheDelegates?

Is The GOP Prepared To #FreeTheDelegates?

Is The GOP Prepared To #FreeTheDelegates?

If you can believe it, the Republican National Convention starts in exactly one week. Come next Monday, the frenzy that is going to be surrounding Cleveland is going to be insane, as the GOP prepares to nominate a candidate. The question is, who is that candidate going to be? Donald Trump has the delegate numbers at the moment, but there is a movement afoot to change the rules.
Donald Trump and daughter, Ivanka speak at the National Press Club - Washington
According to Kendal Unruh of the Colorado delegation, there may be a way to “free the delegates” and enable them to vote for whomever they choose on the convention floor.

Unruh is also a member of the Rules Committee at the RNC, and a leading advocate for a vote that would unbind the delegates from the candidates to which their state primaries are pledged.

Unruh explained that “28 committee members are required to pass a minority report, which then goes to the convention floor for all delegates to vote on. It then requires a simple majority to pass.” She added that she does “have the 28 votes required for the minority report,” continuing, “Not everyone who is with us is willing to be public yet, due in part to the threats being made by Trump’s campaign and the RNC itself.”

Now, this would be a (dare I say it?) YUUUUGE game changer, because as we well know, as time has gone on, Donald Trump’s poll numbers have not risen enough to challenge Hillary Clinton’s lead. Current poll averages put her at nearly 4 points ahead (when factoring in Gary Johnson as the Libertarian candidate). And those numbers have stayed consistent for the last month. Remember, Ted Cruz bowed out on May 3rd, with John Kasich following shortly after. Donald Trump has had no direct competitor for the Republican nomination for almost two months, and yet his numbers are stuck against Hillary. Can we say that Trump has permanently plateaued? Maybe, maybe not. What we DO know is that both sides of the aisle have a large segment who are dissatisfied with their candidate.

It’s a simple reality that both of this year’s Presidential candidates are unpopular. Clinton’s favorability is 39/54, and Trump is even worse off at 35/58. This has given rise to the ‘Giant Meteor for President’ movement, and we find that the Meteor would poll at 13%- far more support than the third party candidates actually on the ballot- with Clinton at 43% and Trump at 38%. The Meteor is particularly appealing to independent voters, functionally in a three way tie at 27% to 35% for Clinton and 31% for Trump. Maybe that’s who the Libertarians should have nominated.

All joking aside (though if the “Sweet Meteor of Death 2016” campaign really takes off, I’ll probably get a bumper sticker), Hillary Clinton is an incredibly weak nominee. She’s unpopular, comes with a load of smelly baggage (and Bill). The GOP badly mismanaged the primaries, and the stupidly huge field of candidates gave us Donald Trump – who is currently being beaten in the polls by Hillary Clinton. So, what is left for the GOP delegates to do, really? Do they nominate Trump – or do they make a bold attempt to change things up at the last minute?

Unruh added that the role of a responsible delegate required unbinding the delegates:

It is the duty of the delegates to represent the best interests of their states and to select a Republican candidate who actually represents our party and who can beat Hillary in November. That’s not Donald Trump. We don’t live in a straight democracy, where majority rule has the absolute say. We have a measured, representative form of government that allows time for discussion, fact-finding, and wisdom before our elected representatives make the final decision. Many new facts have come out since the early primaries that should disqualify Trump, and the delegates have historically always been the final stop-gate through which our party’s nominee must pass. Trump didn’t even get the vote of a majority of Republicans, and over 50% agree that he should not be our nominee. In fact, he would be the first Republican nominee to receive the nomination with more votes cast against him in the primaries than for him.

This is a risky proposition, obviously. However, if the Rules Committee fails to change the rules in this last week, there may be yet another card to play.

Typically, the chairman of each state’s delegation announces how many delegates each candidate won in his state. But according to Rule 37, “if exception is taken by any delegate from that state to the correctness of such announcement by the chairman of that delegation, the chairman of the convention shall direct the roll of members of such delegation to be called.” In other words, if a delegate bound to Trump wants to abstain, he can object to his state’s tally — and force the “chairman of the convention” (i.e., [Speaker Paul] Ryan) to conduct a recount.

If there are enough of these abstentions in Cleveland — and enough of these recounts — Trump could lose.

“Delegates have the right to object and challenge the authenticity of their state’s announcement of votes cast for the possible nominee,” Waters of Delegates Unbound tells Yahoo News. “There are a significant number of states where delegates have made clear their intent to challenge the number of votes announced if they have been stopped from exercising their right to vote their conscience.”

This is also risky, because it depends on Paul Ryan to allow the delegates to object and not just expedite the nomination process. I get the sense that Ryan is a man torn – he wants to be loyal to the GOP, and yet has an obvious dislike of Donald Trump. Is that enough to risk challenging the numbers under Rule 37, convincing delegates to abstain, and hoping that Ryan just doesn’t steamroll over the process to spare the GOP embarrassment – the same way Antonio Villaraigosa did in 2012, when he conveniently went deaf during a voice vote in order to get an amendment to the DNC platform (this was the now-infamous “booing God” moment):

But let’s say, for the sake of hypotheticals, that one group or another succeeds, and Trump is denied the nomination on the first ballot. Then what?

We’re back to the same problem that gave us Donald Trump in the first place – no one can agree on a single candidate to coalesce around to support. Everyone still wants “their” guy.

Think we could talk the Sweet Meteor of Death into headlining the GOP ticket? (I’m kidding. Sort of.)

Whatever happens, my gut says that this convention is bound to make political history. It reminds me of what I texted my husband on the 4th of July, when my sons got into large inflatable hamster bubble balls in a pool of water. For those of you who can’t envision it, it looked like this:
Yes, I let my ten year old and my six year old get in those bubble things to be rolled around in a pool. I texted their father: “This is either going to be a lot of fun, or the worst idea ever.” (For the record, they loved it -though my ten year old niece fell out of her ball and into the water.) I’m feeling the exact same way about the “Free the Delegates” movement or any invocation of Rule 37 – this could either be a lot of fun, or the worst idea ever. You make the call.

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