A real donnybrook is brewing on RNC rules committee
A fight has erupted between some members of the RNC Rules Committee and the party leadership over a crucial rule change that would make it harder to reopen nominations at the convention after they've been closed.
The controversial rule would substitute Roberts Rules of Order to govern the convention for the current system, which is based on U.S. House rules.
The leadership wants to block the rule change, while most of the rules committee wants to pass it. The brawl is coming at an inopportune time, as it comes in advance of the RNC meeting in Florida.
Rules Committee Chairman Bruce Ash criticized RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and his allies in an email Saturday to his panel, accusing them of working to scuttle the proposal and prevent it from getting a hearing at this week’s RNC spring meeting in Hollywood Beach, Florida.
The proposal in question would switch the rule book governing the convention from the rules of the U.S. House of Representatives, which have been used at Republican national conventions for decades, to Robert’s Rules of Order, which is common in civic and organizational meetings.
“It became apparent to me during the discussions with Reince and others at the RNC that there might be an underlying political result that adherence to the House Rules achieved, and that Roberts made more difficult,” Ash wrote in the email, which was first reported by The Associated Press. “Reopening the nominations for President during the balloting to permit a more acceptable candidate to be nominated other than Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.”
The proposal, which is the brainchild of Solomon Yue, an RNC member from Oregon, would further empower delegates to determine the course of the convention’s proceedings — while diminishing the power of the convention’s presiding officer, a role that is expected to be filled by House Speaker Paul Ryan. Yue has said he’s looking to increase transparency by decreasing the influence of insiders.
There's more to this than keeping the nominations open after balloting begins. Giving 2,500 delegates the ability to object to any action or ruling by the chair would result in utter chaos. It's a recipe for disaster and would open the party wounds for all the voters to see.
For the record: the last chaotic convention – Democrats in 1972 – resulted in a 49-state landslide for Richard Nixon.
Trump is already planning on challenging the credentials of several delegates as well as possibly challenging the entire state delegation from Colorado. There are also bound to be objections to several rules changes. And what about the platform? With 2,500 delegates, most of whom have their own ideas for what the GOP should stand for, the potential for a convention meltdown on national television goes up considerably.
Transparency is a wonderful thing. So is winning elections. The Republican Party has to decide which it wants more.