I blogged that this was happening, and now it’s happened. I liked David’s Garber’s summary of the Utah GOP’s delegate bait and switch so much that I got permission to post it its entirety:
It’s official! This morning, by a vote of 70 supporters to 12 opponents, Utah’s state Republican Party’s Central Committee voted to adopt a proposed new “standing rule” that would apply a new twisted interpretation to our party’s by-laws–an interpretation that will now bind our state’s set of Republican national delegates to vote for McCain rather than Romney on their first national convention ballot.
Here is the precise text of this new standing rule:
This Standing Rule has been adopted by the State Central Committee of the Utah Republican Party and shall be a binding rule of the Utah Republican Party unless and until superseded by a change in the Constitution or Bylaws of the Utah Republican Party, or by a subsequent standing rule adopted by the State Central Committee expressly revoking or modifying this Standing Rule:
It is hereby ruled by the State Central Committee of the Utah Republican Party that:
1. An ambiguity exists in the meaning of “the candidate” as it is used in Bylaw 7.0 (B) that is sufficient to have generated public controversy among Party members over the meaning and effect of Bylaw 7.0(B); and that
2. Each reference to “the candidate” in Bylaw 7.0(B) is hereby interpreted to mean a person who is a candidate for nomination on the first ballot at the National Convention at the time of that ballot, according to the rules of the Republican National Committee and any rules adopted by the National Convention; and that
3. Bylaw 7.0(B) does not require that the Utah National Convention delegates and alternates be allocated to or bound to vote on the first ballot for a person who does not meet the definition of candidacy defined in part 2 of this Rule; and that
4. Bylaw 7.0(B) does require that the Utah National Convention delegates and alternates shall be allocated to and bound to vote on the first ballot for “the candidate” as defined in part 2 of this Rule, who has received the most votes of the statewide vote in the Utah Republican Presidential Primary.
RULED this 23rd day of August, 2008, by the State Central Committee of the Utah Republican Party, meeting in South Jordan, Utah, in the presence of a quorum.
Funny that they never noticed this “ambiguity” before–they seemed pretty clear about what it meant during our state convention when they tried to have this rule suspended.
I wrote this story for some friends on MySpace to try to explain what happened:
Utah’s GOP Leaders Defeat Utah’s GOP Rules
This morning marked the end of a long war between Utah’s GOP leaders and Utah’s GOP voters/delegates/rules over whom our national delegation will support at our national convention next week.
Utah’s GOP Primary: “Okay, it’s time to vote, Utahn Republicans! Which of these candidates do you prefer to become your next President?”
Utah’s GOP Voters: “Well, 89% of us reckon that we prefer that conservative-talkin’ LDS guy with the nice hair!”
Utah’s GOP Rules: “According to us, based on these primary election results, Utah’s Republican national delegation will be bound to cast 100% of their votes for Romney on their first national convention ballot in September.”
Mitt Romney: “Meh, my Presidential campaign is hopeless, with McCain’s friend Huckabee drawing votes away from me. So, I’m suspending it and becoming McCain’s biggest cheerleader, instead. *buttsmooch* I now want all of my national delegates to vote for McCain to the extent that the law/rules will allow. Now, what is thy bidding, my master?”
John McCain: “Muhahahahahahaha!!! Now, more than 51% of all national delegates will be voting for me! Next, I want to assimilate the other 49%, as well, so that I can enjoy a big everyone-loves-McCain-fest in September. Hey, Utah, gimme yours!!!”
Utah’s GOP Rules: “Sorry, McCain, but we don’t allow that–they’re bound to Romney, as the voters decided, and that’s final.”
Utah’s GOP Leaders: “Whoa, not so fast, you darn rules! No worries, John, we won’t let those pesky rules stop us from getting you whatever it is you want. Hey, state delegates, we need 2/3 of you to vote to suspend these annoying party rules so that our national delegates can be free to vote for McCain, instead.”
Utah’s GOP State Delegates: “Wait, you want us to throw out our rulebook and nullify our primary? Just to please that awful McCain?! HECK, NO!!!”
Utah’s GOP Leaders: “Dang, this won’t be as easy as we’d hoped. Darn those state delegates! Why must they be so devoted to those silly party rules rather than us? Hmmm, we need a different strategy to deliver those votes to McCain…”
Utah’s GOP Rules: “Forget about it, guys. As long as it’s up to us, Utah’s national delegates MUST cast their first set of ballots for whichever candidate received the most votes in Utah’s primary election. And that was Romney by a landslide. Sorry.”
Utah’s GOP Leaders: “Hey, that’s it!!! We’ll just redefine what the meaning of the word ‘IS’ is! Er, ‘candidate.’ Let’s see, hmmm… Let’s say that ‘the candidate who received the most votes in our primary election’ does not apply to candidates who suspend their campaigns once the primary election is over! So, although Romney was initially ‘the candidate who received the most votes’ with 89%, since he suspended his campaign, he no longer counts–and, so, McCain has now became ‘the candidate who received the most votes’ with only 5%. Once we pervert these rules, those darn rule-respecting Utahns can follow them AND still give us what we want! Why didn’t we think of this devious scheme sooner?!”
Utah’s GOP Rules: “Hey, that’s not what those who wrote us meant to…”
Utah’s GOP Leaders: “SHUT UP!!! You’ll mean what we say you mean! Now, central committee, we need you to vote to approve our new screwy interpretation that we’ve invented so that it will serve as a new standing rule for our party.”
Utah’s GOP Central Committee: “Okay, 85% of us say, hey, whatever you want, boss.”
Utah’s GOP Leaders: “Hurrah, we won!!! Eat that, voters and delegates! As you can see, your votes only count when we like the outcome. We, not your silly rules, are the supreme power in this party! Bwahahaha!!!”
So, in less than two weeks, despite the fact that 89% of Utah’s Republican voters wanted Mitt Romney (not Juan McCainnedy) to be their next President, and despite our party rules that we all assumed would bind our national delegation to support our primary election winner, our national delegation will presumably vote for McCain, instead, thanks to these underhanded machinations of our party leaders.
I’m tempted to produce some sort of flier about this subject, mass-produce it, and then deliver a copy of it to every likely voter in my area. Unfortunately, I’m too broke at the moment to spend much at any copy centers. But I hope that some of y’all will consider doing something like this, though. Our Republican neighbors need to know what schmucks are running their party and, unless they hear it from us, they may never hear it at all.
I also liked these comments from Lowell Nelson:
The new “standing rule” passed 70 to 12. It binds the Utah delegation to the convention-election candidate who received the most votes in the primary election. But it was introduced as a clarification (not a change to a bylaw), and passed with a simple majority instead of the two-thirds required to amend a bylaw. Dishonest. Lacking integrity. Sad day for the GOP and the Utah electorate…
Thus, in my view, party leadership was able to CHANGE Bylaw 7B WITHOUT proper notice and WITHOUT requiring a 2/3 majority vote. In doing so, they arbitrarily determined that the second-place finisher in the primary was also the second choice of the electorate (which is illogical to me). Effectively, this change repudiates the will of 265,000 Utah Republican voters and a majority of the state delegates, and replaces it with the will of a relatively few party leaders.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if delegates had been released to vote for whomever they liked, but this political chacanery to force Utah GOP delegates to vote for John McCain (who got less than 5% of the vote) is nothing short of political BS. Worse still is that the results of this “standing rule” created as result of political expedience will have long-reaching effects perhaps not considered by the State Central Committee.