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The Delegate Race: Arizona and Michigan, and "Brokered" vs. "Open" Conventions

Tuesday, February 28th marks the next phase in the GOP election process, with the primaries in Arizona and Michigan. It is becoming clear to many that the likelihood of an open convention is increasing. A "brokered" convention and an "open" convention are two very different things, and this has been miss-reported by the major media. Of note is that both of these states will pay a penalty of half of their Delegates due to the date of their elections. First, on to Arizona!

Arizona has 29 Delegates available after the penalty for holding their primary early. This is a closed primary. It is unclear as to the final method of compliance with RNC rules (a state holding a primary before April 1st is required to award Delegates proportionally) but as it stands, all 29 Delegates go to the popular vote winner, and are bound for the 1st ballot at the National Convention. Here is the official Arizona Republican Party Bylaws.

Michigan losses half of their Delegates due to the date of their primary. They will award 30 Delegates proportionally based on the following formula: 28 Delegates come from the 14 Congressional Districts (2 per District) and are awarded to whoever gets the most votes in that District. The remaining 2 Delegates are "State" Delegates and are awarded proportionally, with a threshold of 15% to be eligible (which means that the party is trying to skirt the proportional rule and be a winner take all state). All 30 Delegates are bound for the 1st ballot at the National Convention.

An issue that needs to be addressed is the growing concern there will be a "brokered" convention in Tampa. This is not possible - and is an attempt to create confusion and control the process of selecting the nominee. A "brokered" convention would be like this: during the 1st ballot (where each State is called on by the Chair) no candidate receives a majority. The candidates and other powerful party types then get together and make deals to come up with a nominee, and the candidate pledges his Delegates to someone else to achieve a majority. So, for example, Jon Huntsman received 2 Delegates in New Hampshire, and he could pledge those to Mitt Romney, giving Romney 2 more Delegates to get to a majority. Except, he can't. It no longer works that way. His 2 Delegates are now "unbound" and may vote their conscience.

From Michigan's rules on Delegates (via The Green Papers): Delegate binding: Delegates are bound to their Presidential preference from the start of the nominating process through the end of the first ballot at the Republican National Convention. Delegates may not amend their Preference unless released from that commitment.

Delegates become officially uncommitted if their Presidential candidate is either not allocated delegates or looses his/her delegates.

Presidential candidates may not be allocated National Convention delegates if they withdraw, suspend their campaign, endorse another Presidential candidate, or seek the nomination of another political party for any political office.

Most states have similar rules, but it is different for each one, so check your state or keep checking here. What this means is that after the first ballot, Michigan Delegates are officially and legally UNBOUND. Some states (Maine with 24 Delegates, for example) are unbound from the start.

Instead of a Brokered Convention which is no longer possible by GOP rules, if no candidate on the 1st ballot gets a majority we will have an OPEN convention. Each Delegate will then be legally able to vote their conscience, based on the rules from their states.

The Establishment fears an Open Convention more than anything, for it means the actual Delegates will chose instead of politicians, the media, or back room power brokers. The Convention can then nominate ANYONE, whether they have been a candidate or not up to that point, or they can unite behind one of the current candidates. It will certainly be an interesting convention!

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It's actually better than you explain

...apparently RNC rules supersede state GOP rules unbinding delegates after the 1st round.

See http://www.fairvote.org/response-to-a-rogue-convention-how-g...

They state here that "there never has been any legal obligation for a delegate [to vote according to instructions from their state]."

What is the point of having free will if one cannot spit in the eye of the destiny others leave you with? #ActorofConscience

Thanks for clarifying

(Wasn't it CNN who asked recently about the distinction?)

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

We're kind of getting into semantics

Most of us understand the legal definition, but to put it in laymen's terms, most people use the term brokered convention when they are referring to the moment that a second vote is required because no candidate has a majority after the first vote.

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
John Adams

wanna know

i want to know when do we start finding the actual number of state delegates for Dr.Paul and other candidates who will be going to the National convention.
Most MSM estimates list him last, while the campaign's estimate lists him 2nd.
And then I suppose there will be a lot of murky business when they realize that Paul does have many delegates.

Dr.Ron Paul's 2002 Predictions

Something i don't get is that

Something i don't get is that if the establishment fears this open convention you speak of, why are their 3 candidates still in the race? It seems to me it's been manufactured to be this close, and I don't see why.

the final pillaging

of FRN's
Remember Deep Impact?
Kinda like that.
Only this one can be stopped

One day, I'm gonna' change my name to Dale Lee Paul

Can you clarify "bound for 3 ballots"?

I recall reading somewhere that delegates in certain states are bound for 3 ballots. Is this rule still around?

Steve Dickson's picture

You have to read each state's

You have to read each state's rules. I don't know of any, but I haven't read them all yet. I'm working on it :)

If "the establishment fears

If "the establishment fears an Open Convention more than anything", why did they change the rules to make a brokered convention impossible?

they actually introduced

they actually introduced these new rules because they figured that they could easily get the majority delegates for the establishment pick by doing this and manipulate the process. They didn't expect Ron Paul supporters to wise up to the system and use it against them so they are kind of in a panic.

Maybe I feel this way due to

Maybe I feel this way due to my own ignorance of the way that all this works, but I have to say that I am pretty sick of hearing how the party (GOP) penalizes a state or states for holding their primary when they choose to hold them. I am a strong believer in State's rights. And to hear most of the party's own propaganda, they too support States rights. I suppose this is an example of watch what they actually do instead of what they say. I would love to see one or more States band together and tell the GOP to screw itself and let the "all-mighty" GOP know that they (GOP) need the States more than the States need the party!

Larry in North Carolina
The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to not support Ron Paul!

And those states in question can still do that.

They can send their full contingent to Tampa. The credentials committee will not issue credentials to more than the first half of delegates from those states per the rules.

The first order of business is usually accepting the credentials committee report of the official delegate list.

If those states can muster support for a challenge to that committee report, they can have additional delegates (their delegates) seated ANYWAY.

Not easy, but within the rules for sure. The RNC does NOT control the convention - the delegates do.

Heck, the RNC doesn't even control the party. The Convention does.

Once the credentials committee report is approved and the delegates "seated" then EVERYTHING is entirely in the hands of the delegates. If they want to change ALL of the rules, they can do so.

Because Michigan violated the

Because Michigan violated the rules, the penalty reduces their delegate count to 30 and removes voting privileges from the party leader delegates. HOWEVER, the party plans to send 59 delegates to the National Convention. So yes -- look for fireworks; I'll bet other penalized States do the same.

Prof. William Greene

Steve Dickson's picture

I'm a big believer in State's

I'm a big believer in State's rights as well - but there is something to keep in mind here. These rules were adopted by the RNC - which is made up of people from each state - for this election. Some states decided, after they had agreed to this, to move up their election. They knew the penalty for doing so. Much of that was done to benefit Romney by building "momentum" from early wins, even though he would get less delegates from those states (Arizona, Florida, and Michigan for example). So, it's more a matter of a flawed strategy backfiring on insiders.

Susie 4 Liberty's picture

And TEXAS is in a mess due to Court Case

And scrambling to meet the "Party Rules"... I posted a long letter from the State GOP yesterday, and it makes my eyes cross because of the complexities of compliance!

Susie 4 Liberty

Really, the mess in Texas is due to state law that shouldn't


The legislature has no business dictating the internal workings of political parties.

If those laws didn't exist, then the GOP would have the flexibility it needs to organize itself in any manner it best saw fit to employ.