As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz divide up the first primaries and center-right Republicans tear one another apart in a race to be the mainstream alternative, Republicans are waging a shadow primary for control of delegates in anticipation of what one senior party official called “the white whale of politics”: a contested (or brokered) national convention.
Now that Bennett is advising Trump’s camp, he has not stopped planning for a floor fight in Cleveland. One Trump insider said Bennett is angling to serve as the mogul’s liaison to the national convention.
After losing the Iowa caucuses to a better-organized Cruz earlier this month, Trump said he had only recently learned the meaning of the term “ground game.” But according to a person involved in briefing the New York billionaire, Trump has understood the underlying mechanics of the nominating process since at least last year.
As currently written, the rules governing the national convention require a candidate to have won a majority of delegates in eight states or territories to be eligible for the nomination. A candidate will need a majority of delegates — 1,237 — to win it.
“He knows about the number, and he knows about the process. He’s aware of the eight states. He’s aware that it could be taken away from him. He knows about the 1,237, and he knows that they can have people stay in as long as they want just to stop him from getting over the Rubicon.”
The longer the other candidates stay in the race, the more likely that Trump will not get the magic 1,237.
And Trump’s campaign has not ignored the basics of delegate selection.
In December, his mid-Atlantic team sent out an email seeking potential delegates for the District of Columbia’s March 12 delegate convention. In January, it sent out another email listing requirements for supporters seeking to run as Trump-endorsed delegates in Maryland.
Representatives of the campaigns of John Kasich and Jeb Bush did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
As a true political outsider, Trump, despite his history of business deal making, would likely find himself at a disadvantage after the first ballot in Cleveland, even if he enters with more delegates than any single rival.
“Donald Trump would get smoked at an open convention,” said the Southern state party chairman, who said he had seen little evidence that Trump is courting the 150 national committee members and state chairs who will serve as automatic delegates to Cleveland and unofficial leaders of their state delegations if the convention turns into a floor fight. “If they were smart, Donald Trump would call every state chair and strike up a friendship.”
A person intimately involved with Trump’s political operation confirmed that the businessman’s campaign is not courting RNC members and lamented that omission as a mistake. “Somebody’s got to be talking to these pricks and at least taking them off the accelerator and making sure they’re not working against you,” the person said.
While a contested convention could be the last chance for the Republican establishment to deny the nomination to Trump or Cruz, it is far from clear that a multiballot process will hand power to an establishment-friendly candidate such as Rubio.
Trace Gallagher reported on “The Kelly File” tonight that the state primaries and caucuses being held between now and July’s Republican National Convention might not deliver enough delegates to any one GOP hopeful to secure the party’s nomination.
If no one hits that number, it becomes a “fight on the convention floor in Cleveland,” Gallagher said, adding that it appears that campaigns are quietly prepping for that what-if scenario.
He explained how a brokered convention – also known as a “contested convention” – works: If the vote goes to the convention floor, the delegates are obligated to vote for the candidate they did during the primaries and caucuses on the first ballot. But on the second, third and fourth ballots, they can vote for whoever they want.
Gallagher said that’s why some campaigns are requesting personal information about the delegates from state party officials, in order to do research and set up meetings. He revealed that one campaign is reportedly even using “delegate tracking software.”
“The goal, of course, is to push your delegate across the finish line or poach someone else’s along the way.”
Here’s how it is explained on the GOP website……..
How does a “brokered” or “contested” convention come about? A candidate must receive a majority of the delegate votes – so at least 1,237 votes out of 2,473. So after all of the voting in primaries, caucuses and conventions, if Candidate A has 1,000 delegate votes, Candidate B has 1,000, and Candidate C has 472, there is no clear winner.
Where Do the Delegates Come From?
Each of the 50 states and 6 territories (Puerto Rico, Virgin islands, Washington DC, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas) have a set number of delegates based on the National Republican Party Rules.
Every state and territory gets a delegate spot for its Republican National Committee representatives and state chair. That’s three in total.
Each state then gets three delegates for each congressional district.
Each state gets 10 delegates automatically
Each state then gets more delegates for Republican electorial success: casting its electoral votes for the republican in the last election; having a majority-Republican House delegation, republican state legislatures, etc
Kansas has 40 delegates – the most possible, so we punch above our population weight. California has the most at 175 delegates.
How Delegates Are Allocated to Candidates:
It varies by state. In some states, the candidate with the most votes gets all the delgates, even if it is just a plurality of the votes. In other states, like Kansas, the delegates are split proportionally by the vote in the state, although usually limited to candidates who hit a certain percentage of support (10% of the total vote in Kansas). In some states, congressional district delegates are winner-take-all, while the other delegates are awarded proportionally.
The National Republican Party created a rule for 2016 that any state holding an election before March 15 must use proportional distribution. Otherwise, the states do what they want.
There is an infinite number of paths that candidates can use to get to 1,237 delegates. And an equal number of scenarios where no candidate gets to 1,237. The national stories of who dropped out, who is still in, the polling data, who has momentum, who is getting contributions, all matter. But it is the number of delegates that is decisive.
If it is Not Decided on the First Vote- When do Delegates get to Switch Candidates?
Most delegates go to the convention bound to a candidate. Some are bound until released by the candidate, some are bound only for the first convention vote, others are bound until their candidate gets less than X% of the total delegate vote. If any of those triggers occur, the applicable delegates become free agents. A handful of delegates go unbound.
Rules That Apply to Contested Conventions:
Rule 29: Each delegate gets one vote. If the delegate holds two voting positions, he or she still gets only one vote.
Rule 16: If delegates vote for someone besides the candidate to whom they are bound, those votes are thrown out.
Rule 37: States are called to vote in alphabetical order, but they can skip announcing their vote until later in the queue. The chairman of the state party announces the number of votes for each candidate.
Rule 38: No Unit Rule: States can’t decide to cast all of their votes as a state block for whomever the majority of delegates back.
Rule 40: If, after all of the states (and territories) have announced their tallies, no candidate has more than 50 percent of the delegates’ votes, the delegates will keep voting until there’s a majority.
Every candidate knows this convention could be contested. So they must have a plan if no candidate gets a majority of the delegates to cobble together enough to win after the first vote.
The selection of the actual people who are the delegates — the people who will be in the room — is critical. Two convention committees — the credentials and rules committees — guide the process and certify delegates. Challenges to slates of state delegates can get messy, fast.
The 8-State Rule
Last, and this will be key- Rule 40 requires that candidates have to present signatures of support from the majority (not a plurality) of delegates from eight or more states or territories. The most candidates possible is nine, the least is, in theory, zero. That rule may be changed by the convention delegates. The Rules must be adopted or amended at the convention.
Will it Be Contested? Well, right now every campaign is working under the assumption that it will be contested. We’ll have to wait and see.
Source: Kansas Republican Party
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