Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gop Rule Changes Attempt to Assert More Control over States

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gop Rule Changes Attempt to Assert More Control over States

Article excerpt

TAMPA, Fla. -- Pursuing a goal that has eluded both major parties for a generation, Republican officials moved on the eve of their convention to assert more control over individual states in the traditionally unruly nominating process.

Should Mitt Romney be elected in November, some of the rule changes debated Friday also could serve as a bulwark against intraparty challengers in the 2016 election.

One of the proposed changes, which must be ratified by the full convention next week, would prod states to more closely align their delegate selection procedures with the results of voting in primaries and caucuses. The delegates also moved to regain control over a nominating calendar that has been repeatedly hijacked by states -- such as their Florida hosts -- that have sought greater prominence by moving their contests ahead of other states.

In this year's Iowa caucuses, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum barely edged Mr. Romney in the votes of caucus participants. But on the floor next week, supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who finished third there, will control the lion's share of the state's delegation. That is because the closely watched caucus results do not control the selection of actual delegates in a multistage process later in the year. Similar results occurred in states such as Nevada and Minnesota, where Mr. Paul's dedicated supporters outmaneuvered the party establishments in post-election procedures to gain an outsized share of their delegates.

After sometimes heated debate, the rules panel approved an amendment designed to prevent such delegate results at odds with the candidates' actual vote totals. The change will not affect Pennsylvania, however. Rob Gleason -- the state chairman, who is also a member of the rules committee -- said that because the state's delegates are elected independently by congressional district and are not pledged to any candidate the rules change will not affect the state.

The panel also approved changes that raise the bar for making presidential nominations from the convention floor. It would demand that a candidate control at least eight state delegations, rather than the current five, to be eligible to have his or her name placed in nomination. …

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