How would a contested convention actually work?

With growing doubts about the strength of the current GOP field of presidential candidates, key operatives and anonymous Senators are considering the possibility of a “brokered” convention in Tampa for the Republican National Convention.

Calling it a brokered convention is “pejorative,” says Morton Blackwell, founder of the Leadership Institute and an expert on the rules and procedures of the Republican National Committee. Blackwell would prefer to call it, simply, a convention that goes to a second ballot.

The more nuanced term preferred by Republican activists looking to Tampa is to call it a “contested” convention.

Rather than look at the likelihood of a contested convention in August, because, as Mr. Blackwell warned me, “Those who make their living with crystal balls, sometimes have to eat ground glass,” I asked him to walk me through the nuts and bolts of a multi-ballot convention.

Winning the Republican presidential nomination is all about delegates. Under current party rules, the nomination will be decided by 2,286 Americans — including 78 individuals from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.

In non-binding caucus states, delegates may vote for whomever they please. By contrast, delegates from primary states are bound to vote for the state’s voters’ choice, regardless of their personal preference.

In some states, delegates are awarded proportionally based on votes, while other states have “winner-take-all” primaries. Finally, each states’ representatives to the RNC serve as delegates who are free to vote for their preferred candidate.

In Tampa, on the night of the first ballot, Speaker John Boehner, who, according to the rules of the RNC will chair the convention, will announce the roll call of the states. At this point, each state will announce whom their delegates are voting for.

If none of the candidates wins the 1,144 delegate votes needed to clinch the nomination, Speaker Boehner will call for a second ballot. All of the delegates who were bound during the first vote based on their state primaries will be released to vote for whomever they please.

If the second ballot doesn’t produce a nominee, the voting will continue until someone wins.

“The danger” with a multi-ballot convention, says Blackwell, “is that someone will suggest that some sinister deal has been made.” The key to avoiding such a perception, he believes is to allow delegates “to vote, unimpeded, for the candidate they want to win.”
With only 225 delegates committed so far, the nomination is anything but decided. Could Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum lock up the nomination before the convention? Could delegates from U.S. territories like the U.S. Virgin Islands or the American Samoa cast critical votes? Could an as yet unnamed candidate ride in on his or her white horse to save the Republican Party in Tampa?

Only time can tell.

Comments

Comments

  1. test1234 says:

    Appreciating the commitment you put into your blog and in depth information you present. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information. Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

The Daily Show on 'mixed marriages'

The Daily Show has braved one of the great dilemmas of our politicized generation: dating outside your political party.

The Daily Show defends 'manspreading'

“Manspreading”: The defining male rights movement of our generation!

Nancy Grace battles Dr. Drew on pot

Oh, Nancy. Just weeks after gracing the internet with her marijuana debate with 2 Chainz, she's served up another delightful bit of TV: her appalled reaction to discovering that fellow HLN star Dr. Drew is on the 2 Chainz side of this argument.

Stewart: 'Drones love Obama'
Jon Stewart couldn’t stop laughing about the drone found at the White House early Monday morning. A small drone crashed on the White House lawn around 3 a.m. and after several hours in lockdown, Secret Service determined that it did not pose a threat. “Of course it didn’t pose a threat. Drones love Obama. He’s like a one […]
Jonathan Gruber raps to MIT students

If you’ve been dying to see Jonathan Gruber, who credited the “stupidity of the American voter” with passing Obamacare, strip down to his undershirt and rap about economics, today is your lucky day!

White House

Biden: ‘The past six years have been really, really hard for this country,’ ‘tough for our party’

Vice President Joe Biden has a lot of singular qualities—he kills it with the ladies, for example, and is always down for a good ball joke.

HuffPo blogger Obama tells Dems to ‘Get informed, not by reading the Huffington Post’
President Obama offered some pretty ironic advice at the House Democrats annual retreat Thursday. According to The Hill, Obama told his fellow Democrats to hold their fire while the administration works on trade deals that several liberal lawmakers have expressed opposition to. “Keep your powder dry,” he said. How did he suggest doing that? “Get […]
White House: Scrapped 529 plan will still be in budget because it has already been sent to the printers
That awkward moment when even the President of the United States can’t get a print shop to make a small change for him… Just one day after the White House announced that it had caved to political pressure and would not be taxing the 529 college savings plan,  officials also had to admit that this […]
VP Biden appears on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ to get ask young people to sign up for Obamacare
With three weeks to go until the Obamacare deadline to purchase insurance, the Obama administration is pulling out all the stops to encourage young people to sign up.  The renewed push included a stop by Vice President Joe Biden on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Monday so he could appeal to moms who are good at […]
Small drone crashes at White House complex, origin unclear
WASHINGTON (AP) — A small drone flying at low altitude crashed into the White House complex before dawn Monday, the Secret Service said. President Barack Obama was not at home and the White House said it did not pose a security threat. The crash prompted an immediate lockdown of the White House grounds until officials […]

Congress

Dems escort reporters to bathroom at retreat
Why do Democrats always want to escort reporters to the restroom? Or at least it sure seems that way. The latest incident comes from the House Democrats annual retreat where Politico reports that reporters were required to have a staff members escort them when going to the bathroom or to the lobby during Vice President Joe Biden’s […]
Rubio wants permanent NSA spying law

For Senator Marco Rubio (R- Fla.) reauthorizing government spying isn't quite enough--he wants to permanently enshrine it in law.

Cornyn to Lynch:'You're not Eric Holder, are you?'
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) bluntly asked the only question that seemed to be on every Republican’s mind Wednesday at Loretta Lynch’s confirmation hearing to be the next attorney general. “You’re not Eric Holder, are you?” Cornyn asked. “No, I’m not,” Lynch replied. “I will be myself. I will be Loretta Lynch [if confirmed.]“   Cornyn said […]
Cruz bill would punish IRS targeting with jailtime

Ted Cruz wants IRS employees guilty of targeting to be the ones forking over their money, this time -- and that's at the very least.