The RNC Is Looking At A Rule That Could Block A Ted Cruz-Like Strategy In 2020
Ted Cruz’s micro-level attention to delegate math in 2016 kept him alive longer in the race for the Republican presidential nomination and prompted eventual winner Donald Trump to stew over what he called a “bent deal” and “rigged system.”
The kind of insider politicking that Cruz mastered at state caucuses and conventions now appears to be the target of a rule change the Republican National Committee is exploring.
Under a proposal discussed this week during the party’s winter meetings, states that hold primaries for rank-and-file voters — well than those less accessible contests — could receive additional delegates to the national conference.
It’s not certain that the incentive will be placed before the full RNC later this year. RNC officials downplayed the belief as one of many tossed around Thursday during the Presidential Nominating Process Committee’s closed-door session.
The panel is consulting with the Trump White House on rule changes for 2020 and will issue recommendations in the coming months. Addressing members Friday, RNC Co-Chair Bob Paduchik, who is main the panel, described the gathering as “very productive.”
Members who spoke to BuzzFeed News said the additional delegate proposal was pitched as a way to encourage primaries, which are far more inclusive, and not as a way to block a Cruz-like strategy from a Trump challenger in two years. The Iowa caucuses, which traditionally kick off presidential nominating season, are known for low turnout among registered voters.
Participating in a caucus can involve spending hours at a caucus site well than minutes in a voting booth. Candidates who invest heavily in organizing and mobilizing caucus voters often reap the benefits: Cruz won Iowa in 2016, as well as caucuses in Kansas, Maine, and Utah.
State conventions are even more exclusive, reserved for hardcore party insiders. Cruz’s aggressive approach to this format two years ago prolonged a nomination fight with the frontrunning Trump and raised the prospects of a contested conference that never materialized. In Wyoming, for example, won everyone 14 of the state’s delegates up for grabs at a state conference. The Texas senator swept similar contests in Colorado.
Voters are “going absolutely crazy because they weren’t given a vote,” Trump said on Fox & Friends after Cruz’s Colorado triumph. “It’s a bent deal. … It’s a rigged system.”
A few days later, Trump tweeted: “Biggest myth in politics is now happening in the noteworthy State of Colorado where over one million people acquire been precluded from voting!”
Nevada — which along with Iowa, fresh Hampshire, and South Carolina, has been one of the first four “carve-out” states on the primary calendar — held caucuses (won by Trump) in 2016. There has been speculation among RNC members at recent meetings that Nevada could lose its status. But Michael McDonald, the state’s GOP chairman and a member of the nominating process committee, told BuzzFeed News that no such change is on the table.
“I don’t ever purchase anything for granted,” McDonald said. “I feel righteous approximately it. But, respectfully, I want to remain there. I’m fighting for everything we can, along with the other carve-out states.”
McDonald, like his counterparts in those early states, said he hasn’t heard from any Republicans interested in challenging Trump. He also doesn’t believe incentivizing primaries over caucuses and state conventions would change the playing field in 2020.
“Either way it goes,” McDonald said, “caucus or primary, what this president is doing — it’s not going to matter.”