A Brokered Convention in 2012? Looking Toward Tampa

“Order without liberty and liberty without order are equally destructive.”

Theodore Roosevelt

There are a few people who have been advocating a “Delegate Revolt” in Tampa during the GOP National Convention. While I appreciate their enthusiasm, I have to say that I find this idea entirely ridiculous, and in direct contrast of how Dr. Paul wants his delegates to behave.

I wish I could change the numbers, but 1144 delegates for Ron Paul are not going to just appear out of thin air on the first ballot. We have worked very hard to put people in key positions and to send Liberty-minded folks to the convention. However, we have to be realistic. Unless the delegates were unbound (and they are not), we wouldn’t have them on the first round.

However, neither would Mitt Romney. That’s the kicker, and what I would like to see…and that is still within the realm of possibility. A brokered convention would be a way of reaching our goal…but it could get messy. Here is how it would work:

2,286 delegates have been chosen to attend the convention. Some are bound on the first round, some until the second; some are bound indefinitely. While the mainstream media would like us to think that Mitt Romney has the amount of delegates needed to secure the nomination, it’s not so. Those are “soft” numbers, meaning that some states, like Iowa, are unbound and do not have to sign pledges or state a candidate preference.

You can read about state binding laws here: State laws

Generally, there is one ballot. The candidate is usually chosen in the primaries, with overwhelming victories; enough to cause other candidates to drop out of the race. In this cycle, a few have dropped out. Only Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have enough delegates to have a shot at the ballot. Santorum has enough states to be on it, but Paul needs to show a plurality before the convention to be placed on the ballot on the floor. That is still possible…especially in light of the fact that the campaign is challenging delegations in several states. I previously blogged about the campaign’s efforts, which you can read here, on The Liberty Crier:

Challenge Accepted: Ron Paul’s Legal Team Challenging LA, OR, and MA…and Turnabout in MN

So… let’s say that Santorum is on the ballot with Romney. Paul could very well be placed on the ballot by showing a plurality of five states…the contested delegations will be decided upon by the Credentials Committee prior to the convention. This leaves three standing…and a possibility that the unbound delegates from caucus states could cause Romney to fail on the first ballot. As of now, there are 415 unpledged delegates. The Green Papers quote Romney as having 1,399 HARD delegates, which would put him over the number for securing the nomination. That may not work out so well for him, though.

According to Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, whose PR firm worked with the Newt Gingrich campaign, the vote could go astray for Romney. “If you went to Tampa Bay as a Romney delegate and said ‘uh, I can’t take him anymore. I cast my vote for Chris Christie’ — nobody’s going to try to put you in jail for doing that,” he said. Some states do have “faithless elector” laws, but there is a question of whether those laws are enforceable in Tampa, as any violation of law would fall under Florida jurisdiction.

24 states have laws against “faithless electors”, but do delegates fall under those laws?

Another idea to consider is abstention. In 1976, bound delegates to Gerald Ford toyed with the idea of abstaining on the first ballot. You can read about that here: Reagan Forces May “Steal” Ford Votes

To succeed, the Paul people need to have control of about 700 delegates. At this point, according to Green Papers, we have a hard count of 100 and a soft count of 157. This doesn’t include “stealth” delegates. Gingrich still controls 143 hard and 142 soft. Newt doesn’t have a plurality, so he will not make the ballot. Where will his delegates go? They have yet to be released, but in an interview with Fox News Radio, Newt towed the line.

“We need to give the Paul delegates their legitimate rights,” said Gingrich.

In a video promoting the festival, Paul said “tone is important,” hinting that he doesn’t want to stage a massive demonstration that would disrupt the convention’s formal proceedings. That could prove to be problematic for the political plans of Rand Paul.

“If the tone is positive, we’re more likely to have success than if it’s a negative tone,” Ron Paul said in the video.

Does the Paul campaign endorse these ideas? On May 9th, Paul spoke to CNN’s Carol Costello and had this to say:

“Well, it certainly isn’t for the reason of disrupting a convention as you were alluding to. That is not in my plan. That is against my plan. I don’t like that being a suggestion. I’m in it for very precise reasons to maximize our efforts to get as many delegates as we can. I’m still a candidate and to promote something that is very, very important. That is a change in the direction for the Republican Party to be a fiscal conservative Republican Party. To not be a party that supports endless wars and a party that would look into the monetary system so that we can understand the business cycle.”

The convention convenes on August 27th. While some may have an entirely different vision of the convention than Dr. Paul and his campaign, the question remains: will Paul’s supporters succeed in forcing a brokered convention? Or will the Romney campaign steal the nomination from folks who are genuinely concerned about the welfare of America?

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual. “

Thomas Jefferson


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  • http://www.facebook.com/ralph.hornsby.3 Ralph Hornsby

    Your “State Laws” link does not work.

    • Trevor Lyman

      Thank you! It should be working now.

  • Don Jusko

    Angie, I wish you would have spent a little space for Rule #38. Rule #38 will prevail at the party because all Republicans have to follow it. We don’t have to believe their lies, obama’s “first ballot” will fall like a deck of cards. Watch Ben’s video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju4Vyny2BN4&feature=youtu.be
    Jennifer Sheehan, legal counsel for the RNC, even upheld this:
    “The RNC does not recognize a states binding of national delegates, but considers each delegate a ‘free agent’ who can vote for whoever they choose” Unit Rule # 38
    “No delegate or alternate delegate shall be bound by any attempt of any state or Congressional district to impose the unit rule.”
    Directly from: The Rules of the Republican Party
    As Adopted by the 2008 Republican National Convention September 1, 2008.
    Amended by the Republican National Committee on August 6, 2010

    • http://theunconventionalconservative.wordpress.com angiedavidson75

      The problem with this is that the memo from Sheehan applied to an entirely different situation. I actually forwarded that whole mess to Swann when I first stumbled upon it in March or April, and folks have run with it. If you take the time to investigate further, you will see that the situation pertained to a candidate that had already dropped out of the race, therefore “unbinding” his delegates, or releasing them for the national convention. The situation at hand dealt with “re-binding” the delegates to John McCain after they had been released by Romney. Not the same thing as everyone being unbound at the convention.

      Unit rule is when all delegates have to vote as a group. States leave superdelegates unbound so as to get by the unit rule. Rule #15, I believe, allows for binding of delegates per state law. As much as I would like to see them unbound, it’s not going to happen. I am researching abstention at the moment, and will try to post about how that might work. The only other option I could see would be to claim to be able to vote per conscience under the 1st Amendment; not sure how that would work. You would have to ask a court to classify voting as “free speech”; at this point, there is no “constitutional right to vote”, and 42 USC applies only to minorities. It’s a conundrum, to be sure.

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