Political commentators are filling television screens and the Internet with their opinions about the Republican Presidential nomination process. I am writing today to report that most of what you hear and read is nonsense.
Let’s begin with an understanding of where we are today and why. There are only two viable Republican candidates for President, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Trump is leading the delegate count because he won most of the 33 Open Primaries, which allow all registered voters to participate. Cruz has done well in the 15 Closed Primaries, which allow only registered Republicans to choose the Republican candidate.
The decision to open or close a Primary is made by the State Republican Committees. Historically, the State Committees have favored Open Primaries, as they have produced more liberal candidates.
In this election cycle, in an unusual turn of events, the Open Primaries have allowed a well-known celebrity to attract large numbers of voters to join in the Republican nomination process for the first time.
Now, let’s talk about the Republican National Convention which will convene on July 18th in Cleveland. If either Trump or Cruz secures 1,237 Delegate votes prior to the National Convention, that candidate will win the nomination on the first ballot.
If neither Trump nor Cruz receives 1,237 votes on the first ballot, then Convention Delegates will be free to vote according to their best judgment.
Conventions are run by rules, and rules control the process. Under current convention rules, no candidate may be considered for election unless he or she has obtained the majority of the Convention Delegates from at least eight States. That is an extraordinarily high hurtle.
Called the Romney Rule, the eight-State majority requirement was approved at the 2012 National Convention to shut out Ron Paul and his Delegates. Prior to the rule change, candidates had to secure the plurality of Delegates from at least five States, a much more reasonable pre-requisite.
Only two candidates in Cleveland will meet the eight-State majority requirement, Trump and Cruz. Even if the Convention Delegates vote to restore the five-state plurality, still only Trump and Cruz will qualify.
Should the Republican National Committee rig the Convention by changing the rules to cause a candidate other than Trump or Cruz to be nominated, the ensuing controversy would result in Republicans losing the General Election.
If the voting goes to a second ballot, there will be only two candidates in contention and the Delegates will decide the outcome. Sixty-seven percent of those Delegates will have been elected at local Congressional District Conventions. The remaining thirty-three percent are elected at State Conventions and are usually large donors and political insiders.
Our District is the 6th Congressional District and it encompasses the Shenandoah Valley. The Republican Committee for the area will hold its convention in Roanoke on May 21st. Each Congressional District Committee in the country will hold similar conventions, with each electing 3 Delegates to the National Convention.
The candidates who are running to be elected as National Convention Delegates in all 435 Congressional Districts are active Republicans who are political veterans with many years of service. In the 6th District, there are 18 candidates vying for the 3 Delegate openings.
My conclusion is this. Trump will win the nomination on the first ballot if he secures 1,237 votes in largely Open Primaries. Should there be a second ballot, Cruz will win, as a majority of the Convention Delegates will be Republican activists, who are committed to the foundational principles of the Republican Party.
And lastly, I do not think the Republican National Committee will be so reckless as to manipulate the process or the result. Yet, we should never underestimate the arrogance of the RNC.
Ken Adams is the Chairman of the Waynesboro Virginia Republican Committee.