Any Republican candidate entering the party’s national convention with a plurality of delegates and not a majority is not eligible to clinch the nomination, seven former national chairmen of the Republican National Committee say in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.
“Such an interpretation would be a gross violation of the essential purpose of the nominating process,” the former chairmen, Bill Brock, Bob Dole, Haley Barbour, Jim Nicholson, Clayton Yeutter, Marc Racicot, and Mel Martinez write in the joint editorial,
They did not mention GOP front-runner Donald Trump, who has said he’s sure he’ll get the 1,237 delegates required for the nomination before the convention, but even if he doesn’t, he believes that if he is close to that number and nobody else is, he should be nominated. It is this stance RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has publicly disagreed with.
The former chairmen said in their opinion piece that too many Americans do not understand the rules, despite Priebus’s efforts to educate the public, the national press, and “some of the candidates,” who continue to “appear confused.”
For years, both the Democratic and Republican parties have had nominees who secured their delegates before the conventions convened. The last convention that started with the eventual outcome still in doubt was in 1976, when Gerald Ford ended up squeezing out Ronald Reagan to win the nomination. But as that was 40 years ago, many voters and even political reporters are not familiar with that kind of final battle, the former RNC leaders wrote.
The delegate process has been in play for more than 200 years. They said if nobody has a majority for the first ballot, more votes are taken until there is a nominee supported by the majority of the delegates.
The chairmen said they are concerned that if the confusion on the rules is not clarified before the Cleveland convention this summer, “the result could prove disastrous.” The party, they wrote, is “almost certain” to be holding a contested, open race for the nomination, and when that happens, “only an absolute majority of the delegates assembled in the convention can select an individual as the party’s candidate for the presidency.”
Meanwhile, it will remain “crucial” that the process be open and inclusive, the former chairmen wrote, and it is “misleading” for anyone to suggest that rules are being changed to exclude any candidate.
“The rule in both parties’ nomination conventions throughout U.S. political history is simple,” they concluded. “The delegates make the decisions and the majority rules. The majority, no more, no less. Always.”