Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Deeper Dive on the New RNC Rules Subcommittee

It is perhaps premature to start talking about the implications of the newly created subcommittee that the RNC Standing Committee on Rules created last week to reexamine the party's rules regarding its presidential nomination process. There are, after all, no recommendations on the table yet; no formal proposal for reform large or small. All we have is a list of member names and one informal discussion to go on here. And the details of the latter are quite limited. At this point, that is not really all that surprising. There is still a year before the RNC will finalize the rules, so it is an ongoing process.

Still, there is a bit of tea-leaf reading that can be done in this case about what may emerge from this group's efforts and go before the full Rules Committee and possibly the full RNC. At its most basic level, there should be some line of inquiry about the 17 folks on the subcommittee. I mean, are we talking about a slew of establishment types, a bunch of Paulites or something in between? The make up of the group has some bearing on what rules changes -- if any -- it is likely to recommend.

Though it is perhaps a crude measure, FHQ is of the opinion that the roll call vote the Rules Committee had at its April spring meeting on Morton Blackwell's package of amendments is an initially good lens through which to examine the new subcommittee. Recall that the Virginia national committeeman's laundry list of changes to the rules that came out of the Tampa convention would have essentially reversed course and have reverted the rules to their 2012 nomination state. Further, that vote was a narrow victory (28-25) for the establishment, rejecting a return to the old rules. On some level, then, this vote is a pretty good proxy for a change back (grassroots)/stay the same (establishment) set of camps involved in any future subcommittee discussions.

First, let's have a look at the membership: The RNC member's state-level position is in parentheses. The vote on the the Blackwell amendment package -- where a Yes vote means changing the rules back -- as well as any other notes about the member's proximity to either the establishment or grassroots camp is also included where available.

That's ten No votes and seven Yes votes on the Blackwell package of amendments, plus any vote Chairman Priebus may have in the subcommittee process in the future. The reason that vote is a crude proxy is that there were a host of changes in there. Some of those Yes votes may have been for part of the changes specifically rather than the entire package. Once or if that is disaggregated and individual changes are dealt with in the subcommittee setting, some of those votes -- on either side -- could change.

Still, this is a rough proxy. We know, for instance, that the establishment position has the upper hand based on the numbers above. We have that as a baseline and know that the full group fits the "somewhere in between" distinction described earlier. That points toward some changes being made to the current set of rules, but not necessarily a fundamental rewriting of them or reversion to the 2012 model.

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