Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Kentucky

This is the thirty-ninth in a multipart series of posts that will examine the Republican delegate allocation by state.1 The main goal of this exercise is to assess the rules for 2012 -- especially relative to 2008 -- in order to gauge the impact the changes to the rules along the winner-take-all/proportionality spectrum may have on the race for the Republican nomination. As FHQ has argued in the past, this has often been cast as a black and white change. That the RNC has winner-take-all rules and the Democrats have proportional rules. Beyond that, the changes have been wrongly interpreted in a great many cases as having made a 180º change from straight winner-take-all to straight proportional rules in all pre-April 1 primary and caucus states. That is not the case. 

The new requirement has been adopted in a number of different ways across the states. Some have moved to a conditional system where winner-take-all allocation is dependent upon one candidate receiving 50% or more of the vote and others have responded by making just the usually small sliver of a state's delegate apportionment from the national party -- at-large delegates -- proportional as mandated by the party. Those are just two examples. There are other variations in between that also allow state parties to comply with the rules. FHQ has long argued that the effect of this change would be to lengthen the process. However, the extent of the changes from four years ago is not as great as has been interpreted and points to the spacing of the 2012 primary calendar -- and how that interacts with the ongoing campaign -- being a much larger factor in the accumulation of delegates (Again, especially relative to the 2008 calendar).

For links to the other states' plans see the Republican Delegate Selection Plans by State section in the left sidebar under the calendar.


Yes, much of the air has been let out of the balloon in the Republican presidential race for delegates. And even though everyone is kind of, but not really, waiting on Mitt Romney to inevitably pass the 1144 delegate threshold, there is actually some underlying intrigue to the way in which some of the remaining states are allocating national convention delegates. Kentucky is one of those states.

...but only just barely.

The last two weeks have witnessed contests a couple of states with proportional allocation rules -- something mandated by state election law in both North Carolina and Oregon. Kentucky follows suit with one exception: Election law in the Bluegrass state requires that candidates must receive at least 15% of the vote in the presidential preference primary to be allocated any of the delegates apportioned to Kentucky.2 Neither North Carolina nor Oregon had similar minimum thresholds for delegates.

And lest you say this is of little consequence, well, you are probably right. However, if any candidate or the uncommitted line on the ballot should clear that 15% threshold in the Kentucky presidential preference primary, things could get somewhat interesting. You know, interesting in a more than likely less than suspenseful way. If said candidate has already withdrawn those delegate slots become uncommitted according to state law.3 Of course, no candidate has "withdrawn" as it is defined or under the terms defined in the KRS 118.641(2) -- in writing to the chairman of the Kentucky delegation.

Now, that isn't all. The delegates and alternates to the convention, then, upon call of a meeting by the chairman of the Kentucky delegate, vote to determine the allocation of delegates; not the uncommitted delegates, all of the delegates.4 That vote determines the proportional binding of delegates on the first convention ballot called for by state law.

This would mean a lot more if, say, Ron Paul got to 15% of the vote in the primary to qualify for delegates. Without that, the above is moot with only Romney over the 15% threshold. However, if Paul or another -- particularly a withdrawn -- candidate received a share of the vote over the threshold, it could trigger a vote by the delegates at the convention to determine the binding on the first ballot.

There is the potential for mischief on the binding until you realize that the state party's Nominating Committee is the one that actually nominates slates of delegates to be voted on/selected at district and state conventions. That committee does not have complete control but continues to nominate slates until one is agreed to by either the state convention or district conventions. There are party rule mechanisms in place in some states to give the state party more control -- not less -- over the actual delegate selection (not the binding) that others do not have (see a variety of non-binding caucus states and the Paul campaign delegate strategy for examples).

Kentucky delegate breakdown:
  • 45 total delegates
  • 24 at-large delegates
  • 18 congressional district delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates
At-large and congressional district allocation:
Quite simply, candidates over 15% of the primary vote receive a proportionate share of the delegates. If Romney is the only one over 15%, the former Massachusetts governor would be allocated all 42 of the non-automatic delegates.

Automatic delegate allocation:
Similar to the type of autonomy the Republican Party of Kentucky has over the nomination of delegate slates, the Republican State Central Committee is the body that elects the party chairperson, the national committeeman and national committeewoman. The Executive Committee of the state party puts forth a slate of candidates including those offices or the RSCC to vote on (see RPK rule 2.04(j)). The election of the two national committee members and the party chair is not a duty of the delegates to the state convention. There will not, then, likely be turnover in any of these positions in 2012. None of the automatic delegates from Kentucky has publicly endorsed any of the candidates for the Republican nomination.

1 FHQ would say 50 part, but that doesn't count the territories and Washington, DC.

2 Kentucky Revised statute, 118.641(1)(a):
The candidates receiving the highest number of votes, provided each candidate receives at least fifteen percent (15%) of the total vote cast by his political party, shall be awarded a pro rata portion of the authorized delegate vote of his political party.

3 Kentucky Revised statute, 118.641(2):
Each political party shall, on the first ballot at its national convention, cast this Commonwealth's vote for the candidates as determined by the primary or party caucus and calculated under this section or under party rules, whichever is applicable.  Provided, however, that in the event of the death or withdrawal of a candidate receiving votes under this section prior to the tabulation of the first ballot, any delegate votes allocated to such candidate shall be considered uncommitted. Withdrawal shall mean notice in writing by the candidate to the chairman of the Kentucky delegation prior to the first ballot.

4 Republican Party of Kentucky rule, 8.04:
8.04. National Convention Delegates:  With regard to the allocation of delegate votes of the Kentucky Republican Party at the Republican National Convention pursuant to the Kentucky Presidential Preference Primary Statutes, the method of allocation set forth in KRS 118.641(1)(a) shall be the method used by the Kentucky Republican Party.  In the event that a candidate dies or withdraws and the delegate votes allocated to such candidate become uncommitted pursuant to KRS 118.641(2), the Chairman of the delegation shall call a meeting of the delegates and alternate delegates at the convention by giving notice to each delegate and alternate delegate of the time and place of the said meeting.  At the meeting the delegates (or alternate delegates who replace any delegates who fail to attend) in attendance shall vote by secret ballot for any candidate for the Republican nomination for President each may choose.  The number of votes cast for the various candidates shall be converted to a percentage of the total votes cast by the delegates at said meeting, and the delegate votes which have become uncommitted as provided above shall be allocated to the candidates in accordance with their said respective percentages, and these said delegate votes shall be cast on the first ballot in such proportion for the said candidates.  All fractions shall be rounded to the nearest whole number.

Recent Posts:
2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Oregon

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Nebraska

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: West Virginia

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