Friday, September 27, 2019

Connecticut Republicans Add Subtle but Specific Change to 2020 Delegate Rules

Connecticut Republicans have planned to stick pretty close to the delegate selection plan the party utilized in 2016. The allocation looks just the same.

At-large delegates are all awarded to any majority winner. Absent a majority winner, the delegates are allocated proportionally to candidates with at least 20 percent of the vote statewide. On the congressional district level, it remains a winner-take-all scheme. A candidate who wins a congressional district with any plurality wins all three delegates from that district.

Nothing is different there.

However, there was one subtle change the party added to its formula in 2018 and it concerns any uncommitted delegate slots allocated because of votes for "uncommitted" on the primary ballot. Here's the new rule (Section 17(h)):
In the event that any delegates are awarded to the uncommitted spot on the Presidential Preference Primary Ballot, said delegate positions shall be filled by the state party chairman, and submitted in the same manner as prescribed in subsection (d).
Theoretically, this rule cedes to the state party chairman the ability to name uncommitted delegates, delegates that could be picked to hypothetically align with an incumbent president seeking renomination. But this is a very narrowly applicable rule. Connecticut is a state that automatically cancels primaries if only one candidate appears on the ballot. Should none of President Trump's three challengers make the ballot, then there would not be a primary and thus no need for an uncommitted line on said ballot.

This rule would only apply in a scenario where 1) one of more of those Republican challengers make the presidential preference primary ballot, 2) enough Republican primary voters (more than 20 percent) flock instead to uncommitted as a protest to Trump and qualify uncommitted for delegates, and 3) Trump fails to get more than a majority of the vote statewide.

In that unusual scenario, and that scenario alone, would the state party chair choose those uncommitted delegates (and likely be inclined to choose delegates closely aligned with the incumbent).

Yes, this is a very subtle change to the Connecticut Republican delegate selection process. But it is one that, at least under these specific conditions, would stand to benefit the president.

It is also a rules change that one could file under the leave no [rules] stone unturned category.

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