(H/T – Allahpundit)
Campaign Carl Cameron is reporting the Newt Gingrich campaign is planning on challenging Florida’s winner-take-all primary scheme because it held said WTA primary prior to April 1. Florida actually violated two provisions of RNC Rule 15(b), which governs the timing of primaries, caucuses and conventions:
RULE NO. 15
Election, Selection, Allocation, or Binding of Delegates and Alternate Delegates
(b) Timing.* (Revised language was adopted by the Republican National Committee on August 6, 2010)
(1) No primary, caucus, or convention to elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates to the national convention shall occur prior to the first Tuesday in March in the year in which a national convention is held. Except Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada may begin their processes at any time on or after February 1 in the year in which a national convention is held and shall not be subject to the provisions of paragraph (b)(2) of this rule.
(2) Any presidential primary, caucus, convention, or other meeting held for the purpose of selecting delegates to the national convention which occurs prior to the first day of April in the year in which the national convention is held, shall provide for the allocation of delegates on a proportional basis.
So, what are the penalties? Rule 16 specifies them:
RULE NO. 16
Enforcement of Rules
(a) If any state or state Republican Party violates The Rules of the Republican Party relating to the timing of the election or selection process with the result that any delegate from that state to the national convention is bound by statute or rule to vote for a presidential nominee selected or determined before the first day of the month in which that state is authorized by Rule No. 15(b) to vote for a presidential candidate and/or elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates or alternate delegates to the national convention, the number of delegates to the national convention from that state shall be reduced by fifty percent (50%), and the corresponding alternate delegates also shall be reduced by the same percentage. Any sum presenting a fraction shall be increased to the next whole number. No delegation shall be reduced to less than two (2) delegates and a corresponding number of alternates.
(Sections b-d, which deal with the timing of the notification of the penalty and the procedures to follow if the chair does not enforce the rule, omitted for space)
(e) If a state or state Republican Party isdetermined to be in violation:
(1) No member of the Republican National Committee from the offending state shall be permitted to serve as a delegate or alternate delegate to the national convention.
(2) After the Republican National Committee members are excluded from being part of the offending state’s delegation to the national convention, the state Republican Party shall determine which of the state’s remaining delegates (and corresponding alternate delegates) are entitled to serve as part of the state’s reduced delegation to the national convention.
(3) In addition to the penalties provided for in paragraphs (e)(1) and (2) of this rule, the Standing Committee on Rules may impose additional sanctions relating to the offending state’s hotel location at the national convention, guest privileges and VIP passes at the national convention, and seating location in the national convention hall.
(f) A state or state Republican Party shall have no appeal from either a finding of a violation against it or a penalty imposed upon it under this rule.
Because the RNC halved the Florida delegation because they jumped the first Tuesday in March (3/6) date, the Republican Party of Florida changed their allocation from a total of 54 delegates (2 per district) awarded to the winner of each Congressional District and the other 45 (42 “at-large” and the 3 RNC members) awarded to the statewide winner to all 50 of the remaining delegates being termed “at-large” and awarded to the statewide winner. The RNC also reportedly applied the other sanctions.
The RNC does contemplate a contest of “at-large” delegates (see Rules 22 and 23). However, as long as the Committee on Contests feels bound to the RNC rules, this situation cannot end well for Gingrich. It is unlikely that the sole available penalty under RNC rules, a second halving, will be applied. The convention is in Florida, after all, and Florida is a key state for the GOP’s chances of winning the White House. Even if it were applied, the reduction of Mitt Romney’s delegates from the 50 he claimed as the statewide winner to 25 would almost certainly not affect his chances of getting the nomination (he would have to finish with more than 1,144 but less than 1,156 before a second FL chop to affect that).
Worse, it would open the door for somebody to contest South Carolina’s winner-take-all scheme on the basis of it taking place prior to the “protection” of the February 1 date South Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada enjoy (with all but Nevada and Iowa leaving said protection). As Gingrich claimed 23 of the once-halved 25 delegates, a second halving would take away 11. That, in a tight race for Next-In-Line™ status and thus, should Romney lose in November, the 2016 nomination, could cost Gingrich.
There is no basis for the “proportionality” “solution” allegedly being sought by Gingrich, and if my eyes weren’t deceiving me, Rick Santorum. While it would likely give Gingrich 16 delegates in Florida, if the “floor” to receive any delegates were set at 10%, it would also give Rick Santorum, Gingrich’s main competition for Next-In-Line™, 6 delegates. If the same “proportionality” rules were applied to South Carolina, Gingrich would lose 5 of his 11 “at-large” delegates with Santorum picking up 1, Romney picking up 3, and Ron Paul picking up 1.
Similarly, there is no basis to force Florida to modify their original WTA-by-district-and-statewide plan to fit 50 delegates (no, it wouldn’t work if a second halving took place because there would be fewer delegates than Congressional districts, much less leaving enough delegates to allow at least 1/3rd to be “at-large”). While it would have the benefit (at least for Gingrich) of not opening the door to either making South Carolina delegate allocation proportional or further reduce South Carolina’s delegation (due to the inability to further reduce Florida’s delegation), it would only likely net Gingrich, depending on the Congressional breaks, 10-15 delegates.
That minor gain by the Gingrich campaign would likely be wiped out by the ill effects in the
46 45 (oops, Gingrich isn’t on his home state’s ballot) states plus various territories left on the schedule caused by taking the strategy the Gore/Lieberman team took in Florida in 2000. It would serve the Gingrich and Santorum campaigns better to pick up the pieces, learn from what went wrong in Florida, and work in the remaining states on their schedules instead of using lawyers to chase after less than a dozen delegates.