NEW YORK – The Republican National Committee’s rules for next year’s nominating contest and convention were released this week without answering a question the GOP may face next year. -init: Can party delegates vote for another candidate if the presumptive nominee is convicted of a crime?
Former President Donald Trump is under four criminal charges that will continue into the GOP primary season, an overlap of legal and political calendars without precedent in American politics. Fifteen states and American Samoa held their GOP primaries on March 5, known as Super Tuesday, which is also the day after his first trial is scheduled to begin in Washington on charges of illegality he seeks to reverse the 2020 election.
Trump dominates the Republican field and could get most of the support he needs on Super Tuesday, where nearly half of the delegates who choose the nominee at the GOP convention will be awarded. Even if he is convicted in Washington or in another trial, top party leaders and many voters have said they will still stand by Trump. And Trump and his allies are pushing to reject and delay the tests and work with state parties to craft rules favorable to him.
The RNC rules do not include any provisions specific to this unprecedented scenario.
Bound delegates must vote for a particular presidential candidate at the convention based on the results of their state’s primary or caucus. As in previous years, each state party must commit its delegates to vote for its assigned candidates during at least the first round of voting at the national convention, with the limited exception of a small number of delegates. . A candidate wins the nomination if he gets the majority, which is 1,215 delegates.
At next year’s convention, which begins July 15 in Milwaukee, there will be opportunities to tweak the rules if they are adopted or suspend them, which may require two-thirds of delegates to approve a vote.
“This is a parliamentary body,” said Benjamin Ginsberg, a Republican election lawyer. “It always does what it wants when it wants to one way or another.”
Such last-minute maneuvers are difficult to organize and there are some current signs that delegates may be looking for another option despite Trump’s criminal charges looming.
“They’re all going to be elected in contests where people voted for Trump and I don’t think they’re going to, if he wins the primary, change because of the court case,” Ginsberg said.
Trump’s campaign issued a preemptive warning though.
“Any attempt by any swamp rat, in any Washington, DC, swamp rat, to disrupt the rules will be crushed by those of us who know how to run conventions,” said Trump advisor Chris LaCivita, who was a paid senior consultant on rules and floor operations for the RNC in 2016, a year when some Trump opponents considered challenging him at the convention.
A contingency section of the party’s long-standing rules allows the RNC to exempt a state from the rules before the convention if “compliance is impossible” and “the Republican National Committee determines that granting such a waiver would in the best interests of the Republican Party.”
That waiver will require action by the executive committee of the Republican National Committee, which is made up of 29 members, including RNC chair Ronna McDaniel.
The RNC declined to comment on the possibility of the rules being suspended in the case of the nominee being in prison but pointed to recent interviews in which McDaniel was asked if Trump would be the nominee if he were convicted of a crime, and he said that the party will support the nominee chosen by the voters.
“I know it’s newsworthy, but, as chairman of the party, I’m going to support whoever the voters choose. And, yes, if they choose Donald Trump – the voters are watching this, and they’re thinking with a two-tier justice system. They don’t believe a lot of the things that come out of it,” McDaniel said in a Nov. 12 interview on CNN’s State of the Union. “They make these decisions. And see You see that in the polls.”
Republicans award delegates to candidates based on their performance in state presidential caucuses and primary elections, which begin in January and run through June.
Delegates can be unbound by state parties if their assigned candidate drops out, something Trump seems unlikely to do as he has made his criminal charges a central focus of his campaign and declared that the charges are politically motivated.
Unlike in 2016, when the complicated delegate process disrupted Trump’s new team, he has a more experienced campaign team for his third White House bid, including LaCivita, and his political aides are working within over the years to make rules in delegate wars. which is favorable for a prior, as he is ready.
And unlike in 2016, when a large faction within the party opposed Trump’s candidacy, the Republican Party has been renewed under Trump. He has more loyalists across the state and national parties, making it less likely to have a repeat of the late-stage, failed 2016 convention effort when some activists loyal to Texas Sen. . Ted Cruz tried to make last minute changes to the free delegates.