By Boris Heersink
In recent days the Republican Party has seen major conflict regarding the rules governing the 2016 presidential nomination race.
Frustrated with Ted Cruz’s success in sweeping delegates selected at local and state party meetings, Donald Trump has called the delegate selection process “rigged.” Although Trump and the RNC have clashed several times since last summer, his recent criticism is more severe, threatening the party with a “rough July” at the convention.
Meanwhile, Bruce Ash, the chairman of the RNC’s rules committee, has accused GOP leaders of improperly impeding changes in the party’s rules. Ash wants to create a rule to limit the candidates delegates can vote for at the convention to just Trump and Cruz. Other party leaders – including RNC chairman Reince Priebus – are trying to prevent such a change.
The RNC finds itself in an impossible position: if it changes the convention rules, the party limits itself to two candidates who seem unlikely to do well in the general election. On the other hand, if it maintains the rules as is, it keeps open the option of selecting another presidential nominee by ignoring the voices of millions of Republicans who voted in the primaries and caucuses.
This conflict is unique in its severity, and the extent to which party leaders are fighting it out in public. But it also illuminates the complexity of the current process through which political parties select their presidential candidates – pinpointing not only the importance of the primaries, but also of the complicated subsequent phase of delegate selection and convention management. Continue reading