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A Contested Convention?


By Dr. Jan Halper, Worldwide Vice President of Republicans Overseas and Chair of the UK Chapter


A


t the time of writing, April 19, the possibility of a contested


GOP convention remains in the air. If Donald Trump, the only candi-


date who could secure the nomina- tion by June 7th, achieves a majority of delegates, everything I write here will be moot, but the only truism of American politics is, wait a week or two and everything will change. The pundits pontificating about the possibility of a contested GOP convention have concentrated on one significant rule: Rule 40b. In their 20 second soundbites, they were misleading the public. They have not done their home-


work. Their comments are based on the rules from the 2012 Convention. The 2016 Convention rules will not even be approved until the start of the convention in July. Simply, whether watching CNN, ABC, NBC or Fox, the only conclusion one could make was that the excitement of a contested weighed more on their thoughts than educating the public or providing accurate information. So, in this article I intend to pro-


vide you with three things: 1) an historical perspective on contested conventions; 2) understanding of how the rules will be developed for the 2016 convention; and 3) how the infighting has moved from the cam- paigns to a fight inside the GOP.


Historical Context An open convention, sometimes


68 The American


referred to as a contested conven- tion, is brought about when no sin- gle candidate has secured a majority of overall delegates pledged from the popular vote. After the first vote for either the DNC or GOP political party’s presidential candidate, the delegates are no longer considered bound. After the first ballot, if no nominee is selected, then the major- ity of delegates become unbound. In general, unbound delegates are not bound to a specific candidate and can support any candidate of their choosing, however, this varies by state party rules. Before the era of presidential pri-


maries, the DNC and GOP conven- tions were routinely brokered. Deci- sions on nominees were decided in backrooms and controlled by party bosses. The introduction of prima- ries began the process of putting the decision in voters’ hands. In 1924, Democratic candidate


John W. Davis was elected on the 103rd ballot. In 1952, Adlai Steven- son (D) and Dwight Eisenhower (R) were the most recent “brokered convention” presidential nominees of their respective parties. In 1948, Thomas Dewey was elected after the 3rd ballot. Previously, in 1940, Dewey also came into the convention with the most delegates however, after 6 ballots, Wendell Wilkie, who came into the convention with 11 percent of delegates and had been a Demo- crat the year before, was nominated.


©GAGE SKIDMORE Reports of the 1976 GOP Conven-


tion having been contested is false. It was considered an ‘almost’ contested convention between sitting President Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. But, Ford was able to win the nomination on the first ballot. If it were not for the ‘Donald’, the


NeverTrump organisers and the GOP Establishment suffering from such wilful blindness, this issue would probably have not rated much inter- est to the public. With Congress’ approval rating in single digits, it is the insurgency candidates in both parties who have excited voters in the election process. More votes have been cast for anti-establishment can- didates as evidenced by 14 of the 17 GOP candidates who were forced to suspend their campaigns. We know in the General election


our system is not built on one man, one vote. However, the belief that voters have their say in the primaries has been a long held belief. Voters abhor the thought that their vote will not count because the GOP and DNC Establishments think they know better than the voters. Cruz predicts revolts and Trump predicts riots if the popular vote is disregarded and the Establishment puts in someone of their choosing.


Convention Rules Hypothetically predicting whether we will have an open convention is entertaining. Yet, when the media


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