Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Request Denied, Minnesota Republicans Will Bind Delegates Based on Precinct Caucuses

The Republican National Committee has rejected the latest Minnesota Republican Party request for a waiver from the new delegate binding rules for 2016.

Since mid-February, around the time when Republicans in the Land of 10,000 Lakes agreed with state Democrats to conduct presidential caucuses on March 1, Minnesota Republicans have petitioned the RNC for clearance to continue holding their traditional non-binding caucuses. But the state party desire to continue with business as usual with respect to the delegate selection process conflicts with the national party crackdown on the perceived rules bending/exploitation in 2012.

First, Minnesota was among the group of non-binding caucuses states that held presidential preference straw polls before the first Tuesday in March in 2012. While technically not a violation of the national party rules on primary/caucuses timing, a statewide, but non-binding vote, was held. Furthermore, Minnesota was one of the states where the delegate selection/allocation did not reflect the results of that straw poll. That may seem obvious; non-binding caucuses leads to unbound delegates. However, the delegates chosen reflected neither the winner of the caucuses (Rick Santorum) nor the presumptive nominee (Mitt Romney). Those delegates instead were chosen before Romney had clinched the nomination in late May and were aligned with Ron Paul.

This was viewed as problematic by some in the national party; as against the will of the caucusgoers who participated in the February preference vote. Minnesota was not alone in this regard in 2012. Colorado, Iowa, Maine and Missouri all conducted caucuses under similar, non-binding rules. And all were targeted when the RNC revisited its national delegate selection rules at the Tampa convention in 2012. Among the list of changes was to end the practice of non-binding caucuses; to make the allocation process dependent upon the results in the earliest statewide vote.

It was that rule that Minnesota Republicans sought a waiver from this spring. In the face of 2012 delegate selection rules changes, though, the RNC has denied the waiver requests. The result is that with March 1 precinct caucuses, Minnesota Republicans will be required to proportionally allocate delegates to candidates based on the results of that preference vote at the caucuses. What that proportionality will ultimately look like remains undetermined for the time being.

However, to hear Minnesota Republican Party chair, Keith Downey, describe it, the process will be without many restrictions:
And since the ballot is binding proportionately, Downey believes, “it protects the upstart candidates who can sustain their candidacy without having to win outright. My opinion is that this is actually a better situation for grass-roots activists … who may prefer an outlier.”
By "restrictions" FHQ means thresholds to determine the candidates who qualify for delegates. What Downey discusses does not sound like a process that will limit the candidates who will receive delegates; will not require a candidate to get up to 20% of the vote in the preference vote to be allocated any of the 38 Minnesota delegates. Any move to institute such a threshold would likely stoke the tensions between the establishment and liberty wings of the party.

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