Meet Curly Haugland, former chairman of the North Dakota Republican party and current Republican national committeeman. Haugland is one of just 112 delegates who will arrive unbound to this summer’s Republican convention in Cleveland, free to cast a vote for any candidate he chooses on a first ballot because North Dakota does not hold a primary or caucus. That makes him a particularly valuable asset to the still-dueling presidential campaigns.
Haugland, a Bismarck businessman and a member of the powerful RNC committee that will set the rules governing this year’s convention, says voters may be in for a rude awakening when they learn that the votes cast by delegates on the floor of the convention — rather than those cast in primaries and caucuses — actually determine the Republican nominee. “The results on Fox are just a participation ribbon,” he says. That’s true: Regardless of who wins each state’s nominating contest, a candidate does not become the party’s standard-bearer until he receives a majority of the delegate vote on the convention floor.
The behind-the-scenes efforts by presidential candidates to win the allegiance of delegates such as Haugland are now attracting as much press coverage as the campaign itself. But those privy to the internal workings of the RNC and the delegate-selection process — many of whom agreed to speak on background to preserve their relationships with the candidates — say that the task of wooing individual delegates is probably too complex for an active presidential campaign to successfully manage, and that it’s unlikely to matter much. That’s because the delegates, who are elected through processes dictated by state-party bureaucracies, are themselves likely to be long-time Republican insiders more partial to Cruz than Trump.
So if the race comes down to a fight on the convention floor, it’s almost certain to become clear that there are, in fact, benefits to being a party insider, relatively speaking. And it may be the richest irony in a cycle full of them that Cruz, whose feud with the party establishment is the stuff of legend, finds himself in the best position to reap those benefits if he can hold off Trump until July.
Haugland has been researching the RNC’s nominee-selection process for five years now. He is in the middle of writing a book intended to serve as a guide for the 2,472 Republican delegates who will cast ballots in Cleveland, which he aims to publish 45 days before the convention. And though he has not endorsed a candidate himself, he says Trump is unlikely to win if the convention requires more than one ballot.
He points to Arizona as an example. Trump won the state’s primary on Tuesday evening, but regardless of what any campaign does, the majority of Arizona’s 58 delegates, who are unbound after the first ballot, are likely to defect to Cruz on subsequent votes. “Voters in the primaries are not representative of the people who are gonna’ be sittin’ in the chairs in Cleveland,” he says. “The convention delegates from Arizona are going to be very conservative people, I guarantee ya’.”
Then, too, there are states such as New Hampshire, Georgia, and Ohio, which have open primaries that allow Trump-leaning Democrats and independents to cast ballots, but where delegates are elected through processes set up by state Republican parties who are by definition, well, Republicans.Read the rest of the story HERE.
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