April 13, 2013 by bfranklin2076
Yet again the establishment makes it that much harder for small government conservatives to run for President in 2016 all in an attempt appease their corporate overloads:
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — In the GOP’s ongoing establishment vs. grassroots saga, chalk one up for the establishment.
Since Mitt Romney’s loss, the Rand Paul wing of the party has been on the ascendency. But libertarians hit a roadblock Friday as the Republican National Committee opted at its spring meeting to keep in place a host of rules rammed through by the Romney campaign at last year’s national convention.
The move represents at least a small setback to Rand Paul’s 2016 hopes, potentially making it more difficult for him or another candidate with strong grassroots support to pick up delegates. Had the rules been in effect last year — they were adopted after Mitt Romney secured the nomination — the former Massachusetts governor would likely have wrapped up the nomination much earlier and avoided the drawn-out warfare that weakened him heading into the general election against Barack Obama.
One plank that was maintained, for example, allows more states to award delegates on a winner-take-all basis, instead of proportionally. An attempt to overturn another rule that bounds a state delegation to support whoever won a statewide vote received only 49 votes; 107 committee members voted to keep it in place.
The vote followed a heated debate. Paul backers argued that the Romney rules favor big-money candidates at the expense of contenders with devoted followings among activists.
“This damages grassroots candidates in general, whether that be Rand or anyone else,” said Paul backer Jeff Larson, who carpooled from Texas with friends to lobby the committee.
Ron Paul’s 2012 deputy campaign manager, Dimitri Kesari, promised that the state chairmen and committee members who voted against rolling back the Romney rules will be forced to explain themselves if they run for reelection.
“This is just a first salvo,” he said.
Tea party groups including FreedomWorks also admonished the committee and promised to keep pushing back against any effort to centralize power.
Establishment figures called it unfair that Rick Santorum won caucuses in states like Iowa and Minnesota but then Paul wound up controlling the delegation because his supporters organized better for the conventions that pick delegates. They complained that it’s wasteful to force campaigns to expend resources winning an election and then winning delegates.
But even as establishment types won the caucus fight, the committee’s four-day meeting here made clear that their biggest prize – a regional primary that would allow a well-funded candidate to clinch the nomination quickly – is well out of reach.
Last month the party’s “autopsy” task force — co-chaired by George W. Bush’s former press secretary, Ari Fleischer, as well as Haley Barbour’s nephew and a Jeb Bush confidante — suggested that primaries are preferable to caucuses. They also called on the party to explore “a regional primary system or some other form of a major reorganization instead of the current system.”
This would give a structural advantage to more moderate candidates who can raise lots of money to afford big TV buys across multiple states holding their primaries on the same day. Candidates seeking to build momentum early in a state that’s cheap to advertise in would be at a disadvantage.
Dozens of interviews revealed pretty widespread opposition to regional primaries. Iowa national committeeman Steve Schefller warned that rotating primaries might start in the Northeast: “We’re probably going to end up with another John McCain or Mitt Romney, and that’s just not acceptable.”
“Who in tarnation had that input to put it in the report? … It’s insane,” he said. “There’s a lot of good things in the report, but there are some things that are not very good.”
There are logistical concerns as well for some of the ideas: Democrats would probably need to move their convention earlier too if Republicans went up to June, and will the committee really put in place penalties against candidates who want to participate in a forum or debate that’s not officially sanctioned?
South Carolina committeeman Glen McCall, one of five co-chairs on the “autopsy” report, said he is personally opposed to regional primaries – even if Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada get to go first, as suggested in the report.
“I don’t see that before 2016, but who knows? I hope not,” he said.
“Getting 75 percent is something that takes a lot of work,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus said in one of the interviews. “You can sit here today and say there’s not an appetite for a regional primary, but after a year’s work and the right people involved in a plan that makes sense, perhaps people might be interested in that. It’s just hard to tell.”
Other suggestions made in the report may have a better chance of adoption. There is general consensus among members of the committee that in 2016 there should be fewer debates, for instance, and that the Republican convention should be moved up so the nominee can tap resources that can’t be spent until the general election is officially underway.
Any changes to GOP rules require three-quarters support of committee members.
Several members who pushed to make caucuses non-binding noted that they are not pro-Paul voters. They view this as a state’s rights issue and resent the national party dictating how a state party should run its elections.
Libertarians were also irate Friday that the RNC refused to seat the pro-Paul chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, Debra Holle Brown, who the state party’s central committee voted to oust at a meeting earlier this week. She is appealing that decision, the latest development in an unfolding civil war.
“There’s been mischief,” she yelled, trying to get the chance to weigh in on the Romney Rules fight.
“Debbie, you’re out of order,” Priebus told her. “You’ve been relieved. We’re moving forward with the roll call.”
Priebus pleaded for unity in a speech to members.
“It’s great to say, ‘I’m for Marco’ or ‘I stand with Rand or ‘Cruz is my guy’ or ‘Nikki is my choice,’” he said. “And it’s great to be a conservative first or a freedom lover first. But in the end, when we cast that ballot, we’re Republicans. We’ll either succeed together or we’ll lose together. I don’t know about you, but I’m for winning together.”