The last contested presidential nominating convention of a major U.S. political party happened a generation ago.
In 1976, President Gerald Ford persuaded undecided delegates at the White House to fend off former California governor Ronald Reagan. Reagan had actually led the pre-convention delegate count according to one national media source at the time.
A generation before that, it took Republican delegates five ballots to select businessman Wendell Willkie as their nominee in 1940. He had never served in public office before winning the nomination.
Neither of these two events was as contentious as the 1924 Democrat Party convention. It took 103 ballots and 16 days to finally land on compromise candidate John Davis. Davis subsequently lost to Calvin Coolidge later that fall.
While contested conventions haven’t born much fruit historically, at least Abraham Lincoln survived one to secure the Republican nomination – and ultimately the Union – in 1860. He promised a variety of cabinet posts to supporters in order to solidify his majority.
This year, if no Republican candidate amasses the required 1,237 delegates prior to July’s convention, here’s how the process could play out if rules passed at the 2012 convention hold.
Most delegates are required by the Republican National Committee to vote according to the guidelines that governed their state’s primary or caucus.
For example, since Trump won Florida and Florida was a “winner-take-all” state, each Florida delegate must vote for Trump on the first ballot.
About three-fourths of all delegates are “unbound” on subsequent votes if no candidate takes a majority on the first vote.
Texas delegates are slightly different. The Texas GOP held a “pro rata” primary, so delegate votes will split according to the percentage of primary votes cast for Cruz, Trump and Rubio. Again, this is on the convention’s first nominating vote.
If a Texas delegate’s candidate fails to win at least 20 percent of the first-ballot vote, that delegate can vote for any candidate on the second vote and beyond.
For instance, if Marco Rubio gets 8 percent (i.e., under 20 percent) on the first convention vote, his three delegates from Texas can vote for whomever they wish on the next vote, assuming no candidate won a majority on the first vote, of course.
That’s why politicos are descending on state party conventions: to try to get their supporters elected as national convention delegates, even if those delegates must cast a vote for an opponent on the first vote at the national convention.
All Texas delegates become completely unbound by the third national convention vote.
Conventional wisdom holds that Donald Trump will fall sharply after the first convention vote. At that point, delegates, many of whom will be long-time county party chairmen and state party leaders, are freed to vote their consciences.
To win, Trump would have to convince party loyalists to stay within his newly formed circus tent. That will be a tough sell.
“I was here,” they’ll likely figure in their yellowed Reagan-Bush ‘84 buttons, “when Trump was writing checks to Clinton, Inc. And I’ll be here long after he fizzles. I’m voting for….”
Kevin Thompson writes a weekly column in The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at http://www.kwt.info
Yesterday’s Wisconsin primary showed the shaky ground on which Republicans find themselves. An outspoken outsider still leads the race for their presidential nomination. But conservative stalwarts from governors to talk radio hosts are gaining steam against him.
Donald Trump needs well over half the remaining delegates to win the nomination. To date, he has won about half the delegates and roughly 37% of the popular vote. It’s increasingly possible that Trump doesn’t clinch the nomination before the Republican convention.
If Republicans flip Trump the bird at their convention, he’ll likely run third party. Like businessman Ross Perot in 1992, he’ll likely split conservative votes and usher in another Clinton presidency.
Meanwhile, the 10 million voters who pulled the lever for Trump in the primary will likely flip the Republican Party the bird – probably for good. Here’s a plan to harness these voters and win the White House. First, some thoughts on the candidates.
Trump seems genuinely to care about the direction our nation travels, though he appears to have limited desire to enter the weeds on foreign policy or social issues. He wants a platform to manifest his gusto ego, but he likely loves the surge of campaigning more than he’d like the scourge of governing.
Like Trump, I want to shake up the federal bureaucracy. I want the government working for the people, not lifelong bureaucrats. “You’re fired” has a nice ring to it and needs to be heard around Washington.
I have liked Ted Cruz since I had dinner with him several years ago at Boerne’s own Spinelli’s Vistro. He means well and would make a good president. However, I’d really love his conservative constitutional mind on the United States Supreme Court. He’d be Scalia reincarnate.
John Kasich has proven himself an effective executive of a large state. He walks a moderate line that could get social conservatives and fiscal conservatives onto common ground. He polls well against Hillary. Most importantly, he talks and acts presidential.
Campaign fatigue turned Marco Rubio into a debate puppet, but his body of work in the United States Senate shows he can contribute on the highest policy levels. He is likeable and youthful. He obviously has a drive to serve.
At the risk of sounding like a product of the “everyone wins” generation, here’s my resolution to the campaign quandary at hand.
- Cruz should cut a deal with Kasich: “I’ll throw my delegates your direction if you appoint me to the Supreme Court.”
- Rubio should cut a deal with Kasich: “I’ll endorse you if you make me your running mate.”
- With more delegates than Trump at that point, Kasich should then cut a deal with the Donald, borrowing from Obama’s playbook: “If you support me, I’ll make you Czar of Immigration and Government Reform. You will have clear autonomy to hire and fire federal agency heads and implement changes that… make America great again.”
This strategy would give Republicans the best chance to win Ohio, Florida, 10 million Trumpeteers and a courageous conservative to the Supreme Court.
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln assembled a “team of rivals,” as author Doris Kearns Goodwin put it in her 2005 book by that name. Three men who ran against Lincoln in 1860 served on his cabinet.
Today, we need a similar team effort to keep the Clintons out of the Lincoln Bedroom.
Kevin Thompson is a columnist for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our dog, Hank, got loose the other day. It’s not what you think.
Most dogs bolt out the front door as soon as it’s cracked. Not Hank. He’s a homebody, proven by the claw scratches on the outside of every exterior door.
Hank loves to be with us, so when he took a stroll down the street with the kids recently, it was unusual. Hank is not the rabble-rousing type. He’s certainly not a public enemy.
Nevertheless, the pound came calling.
Animal Control Officer (ACO): “Mr. Thompson?”
ACO: “This is the Boerne animal control department. Do you own a dog named Hank?”
ACO: “Could you have recently failed to keep him under proper restraint and permitted him to be at large off your premises?”
ACO: “Do you know if Hank has a license?”
Me (laughing): “A license?”
ACO: “Yes, a license. I don’t see one here in our records.”
The officer, who was very courteous by the way, proceeded to tell me that every dog (and cat, for that matter) that resides in the city needs a license. I had no idea. Hank either: “Ruff! There was no sign!”
It turns out pet licenses can be purchased at the city animal control facility on Esser Road. Twelve dollars gets your pup three years of free roam (assuming he stays on your property).
I really couldn’t believe my ears. The ordeal reminded me of a Ronald Reagan quote:
“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
I’m sure there are many sound public health and public safety reasons for authorities to know what pets occupy our neighborhoods.
Still, the thought that a man needs a license to have a best friend dumbfounded me.
After I expressed my disbelief to the ACO, he kindly offered to call Hank’s veterinarian to see if they might have record of an active pet license for Hank. A day later he called back. They didn’t.
So, in addition to the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on vaccinations and the fees I paid the county pound for the right to rescue Hank four years ago, it seems I also need to fork over twelve bones for a pet existence license.
No wonder the sorry dog thinks he deserves table scraps. No…table food!
Fees have long been a way for governmental bodies to increase revenues without technically raising taxes. It’s a way to skirt political pushback and still fill coffers.
Philosophically, I don’t often have a problem with charging users in accordance with the public services they consume. For example, the city adult basketball league should and does charge entry fees to defray the cost of courts and refs.
But taxing a man’s dog seems un-American, definitely un-Texan.
Cats on the other hand?… (Sorry, Pumpkin. You were low-hanging fruit.)
Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star. Follow him at www.kwt.info.