Showing posts with label Michael Steele. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michael Steele. Show all posts

Friday, March 13, 2009

Michael Steele by the Numbers

or A Look at the Potential for the Current RNC Chair Being Removed

Speaking of that possibility and with chatter ramping up of late, the removal of the RNC chairman requires a two-thirds vote of the RNC according to Rule 5(1)(a)[See page 7 in rules here.]. Now, whether that is probable is beside the point. Chris Cillizza thinks it is unlikely, but let's look at this from a numbers standpoint. We know that 112 RNC members (out of 168) would have to vote to remove Steele. We also know that Steele got 91 votes on the sixth and final ballot of the chair election in January. The 77 votes that went to runner-up Katon Dawson would have to be augmented by 35 of those 91 Steele supporters to remove the current chair.

RNC Chair Votes by Ballot
1st ballot
2nd ballot
3rd ballot
4th ballot
5th ballot
6th ballot
Source: National Review Online

But not all of those 91 were initially among Steele's supporters. In fact, of those 91, at most 45 were not with Steele on the first ballot. [That assumes that all of the original 46 stuck by Steele throughout.] That's 45 soft Steele supporters who could potentially be swayed by an effort to assemble a successful vote of no confidence to oust the chairman. Of course 78% of those 45 would have to be persuaded that Steele needs to removed to make that a reality (or to break into the original 46 hard supporters) and I'm not sure that's anywhere close to happening. But more statements like those given to GQ and/or Republican James Tedisco failing to win new Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's vacated NY-20 congressional seat in the upcoming special election likely wouldn't help.

But put it this way: It is closer now than it was on January 30 when Steele was elected.

Recent Posts:
GOP Temporary Delegate Selection Committee for 2012

Should Indiana Frontload in 2012? (Part One)

WA-SoS Urges Steele to Back a Regional Primary System

GOP Temporary Delegate Selection Committee for 2012

I had a link to a full version of the Republican National Committee rules (2009-2012) come into my inbox this morning and thought I would cut and paste the relevant language concerning delegate selection for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination here. Additionally, the full text of those rules is appended at the bottom of the post.

The section, Rule 10(d) follows [See page 17 of rules below.]:
(d) There shall be a temporary committee to review the timing of the election, selection, allocation, or binding of delegate and alternate delegates pursuant to Rule No. 15(b) of these rules to the 2012 Republican National Convention. The Temporary Delegate Selection Committee shall be composed of fifteen (15) members, which shall include one (1) member of the Republican National Committee from each of the four (4) regions described in Rule No. 5, elected by the members of the Republican National Committee from each region at the 2009 Republican National Committee Winter Meeting; further, the chairman of the Republican National Committee will appoint three (3) additional members of the Republican National Committee and six (6) Republicans who are not members of the Republican National Committee. The chairman and general counsel of the Republican National Committee shall serve as ex-officio voting members. The chairman of the Republican National Committee shall convene the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee as soon as practicable after the 2009 Republican National Committee Winter Meeting. The Temporary Delegate Selection Committee shall make any recommendations it deems appropriate concerning additions to Rule No. 15(b) of these rules, provided that such additions shall preserve the provisions of Rule No. 15(b) adopted by the 2008 Republican National Convention, which shall be voted upon without amendment by the Republican National Committee at the 2010 Republican National Committee Summer Meeting and which shall require a two-thirds (2/3) vote to be adopted. Any action adopted would take effect sixty (60) days after passage. The Temporary Delegate Selection Committee shall disband following the 2010 Republican National Committee Summer Meeting.
Thus far, the membership of the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee (TDSC) has been scrutinized to some extent (see here and here), but not fully and the other related rules have been ignored as well. An important question emerges:
  • How much power does the newly-instated Chairman Michael Steele actually have in this process?
At the outset, Steele has an immense amount of power over the membership of the committee. The very same meeting where Steele was elected also elected four RNC members to serve on the TDSC. Additionally, Steele, himself, and the RNC's general counsel (To be a Steele appointee according to Rule 5(c) [See page 8 in the rules below], though I can't find any documentation that current counsel, Blake Hall, was among those let go by Steele in the February wave of staff resignations/firings.*) both serve as members of the committee. Steele also has nine other appointments; six from among the members of the RNC and three from outside those ranks. If reform is the desired outcome then, Steele can choose among those within and outside of the RNC that really value a change, significant or otherwise.

The membership aspects have been discussed, but what is lost in this is the fact that two-thirds of the RNC still has to vote in favor of any change. Now, the committee already voted in favor of the Ohio Plan, but had that derailed by the McCain campaign at last year's St. Paul convention. Hypothetically then, this could be pushed through again without the same obstruction. Whether that comes to pass or not depends on the changes made at the state level for each state's member(s). Then again, these are the folks that elected Steele in the first place.

In other words, this situation is a bit fluid. And with chatter ramping up the last couple of weeks that Steele may be out of a job, the formation of the committee is even more up in the air. If you are betting on when the TDSC will be up and running, I'd opt for later rather than sooner if I were you.

Republican National Committee Rules, Adopted 2008

*Incidentally, when I was searching for news about Blake Hall, I came across this podcast where he addresses presidential primary reform; specifically the Ohio Plan, which at that point -- summer 2008 -- had been passed by the RNC to be voted on at the national convention. The vote failed, but did lead to the crafting of the rule creating the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee. There were some interesting notes in this interview. Number one, Hall, whether he is retained as general counsel and is on the TDSC or not, supports primary reform of some sort. He indicated that the RNC penalty for violating a hypothetical Ohio Plan would be the same as it was in 2008 (a loss of 50% of a state's delegates). However, he also indicated that there had been discussion about increasing that penalty. Hall closed by discussing the tradeoff there, citing the Democratic problems in 2008. Namely, if a party is going to have a severe delegate penalty, said penalty has to be enforced.
[Original link to podcast here.]

Recent Posts:
Should Indiana Frontload in 2012? (Part One)

WA-SoS Urges Steele to Back a Regional Primary System

2008 Electoral College by Congressional District

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

WA-SoS Urges Steele to Back a Regional Primary System

Well, indirectly...

The other day I was pleased, though not surprised, to see that Washington Secretary of State, Sam Reed was calling on newly-elected RNC chair Michael Steele to appoint secretaries of state to the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee that will shape the Republican primary system/calendar for 2012. [Pleased because any news on this front makes for more discussion here at FHQ. And not surprised because Reed, as a secretary of state and former president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, wasn't really going out on a limb to endorse a system that he and other secretaries of state have constructed and backed.]

However, as David Ammons, Secretary Reed's communications director, alludes to, Secretary Reed is getting out in front of a process that will take place between now and the summer of 2010 to craft the system for the 2012 nomination -- a system that will right the frontloading wrongs highlighted by the 2008 calendar. For my part, I'm less concerned with the specific reform in this case and more interested in the means by which Reed envisions it coming to pass.

Ammons was kind enough to share the secretary's letter to Steele with me and in it, Reed identifies the need to...
"...appoint Secretaries of State to this committee. It only makes sense to have people that are knowledgeable about the process and election procedures participating in creating the solutions to these problems."
Recall that the 15 person Temporary Delegate Selection Committee is comprised of 4 elected memebers from the RNC (one of those four, Fredi Simpson, happens to be from Reed's home state of Washington) and eleven members chosen by Steele himself. Of course, Reed then goes on to offer up both his and Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson's (also current president of the National Association of Secretaries of State) services to be two of those eleven chair-selected members.

So, what we are starting to see is the obvious.
  1. Steele has quite a bit of power over this process.
  2. Who those 11 members are matters.
To that second point, secretaries of state are going to be predisposed to supporting the NASS rotating regional primary plan. But that may not be the direction in which Steele wants to steer this process (...if Steele even hangs on to the position). Outside of occupation/elected office, though, what can we look at in terms of the future members' characteristics to get a sense of what the ultimate plan will be? As I've already stated, if the primary calendar remains unchanged in 2012, Mitt Romney is in a prime position to capture the GOP nomination. Much of that depends on Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee not only entering the race but splitting the vital social conservative vote in both Iowa and South Carolina. And that conclusion is not out of line with the results of the recent straw poll at the CPAC conference. Those two things (CPAC straw poll and Iowa/South Carolina nominating contests) don't necessarily equate to each other, but the same sort of dynamic could be at play. Regardless, support for Romney is essentially a proxy for support for the status quo in terms of the nomination system. Support for other candidates, then, could mean support of some measure of reform. [And that isn't to say that Romney supporters can't also support primary reform, but it won't happen unless the system is seen as something advantageous to the former Massachusetts governor.]

With that in mind, one thing I've already looked into is the FEC reports on contributions from the four elected members of the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee. This is something we can look at for the other 11 members when they are named as well. Here are those four members (via TheNextRight):

Region Member Defeated
Northeast David Norcross (NJ) Ron Kaufman (MA)
South John Ryder (TN) Morton Blackwell (VA)
Midwest Pete Ricketts (NE) Bob Bennett (OH)
West Fredi Simpson (WA) Ron Nehring (CA)

Norcross, for example, gave $2300 to Mitt Romey's campaign in early 2007. The other three, however, didn't appear to have national-level contribution activity other than to the RNC. Those three focused much of their donations on state parties and local senate candidates. As the other members are named, we may be able to draw similar conclusions.

But for now we're just playing the waiting game.

[UPDATE: The letter cited above is now posted in full on the Washington Secretary of State's web site now.]

Recent Posts:
2008 Electoral College by Congressional District

2008 Presidential Primary Calendar

2004 Presidential Primary Calendar

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chairman Steele and the 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar

Marc Ambinder has within the last week written some interesting stuff about the choice in the RNC chair race and the ramifications that may have on the presidential primary calendar for 2012 (see here and here). Let me put it this way: Michael Steele's selection was not greeted happily by Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee or any other social conservative thinking about throwing their name in the ring for a run at the White House in 2012.


Well, as the National Review mentioned in December, the new chairman is charged with some new powers that haven't been granted RNC chairs in the past. These new powers originated with the decision at last September's convention in Minneapolis to allow for the rules governing the 2012 nomination process to be altered outside of the bounds of the convention. In the past the GOP has simply crafted the rules for four years down the road at the preceding convention. As a part of opening that process up, the chair of the national party was given the ability to name nearly 80% of the members of this commission, or drafting committee, as Ambinder calls it.

Does this mean that significant change is on the way?

Not necessarily, but with Steele in place as the new chair of the RNC, it is more likely that a significant re-write of the rules will be undertaken than if one of the more conservative candidates for the position had won enough votes last Friday.

Here's the thing, though: I don't see the nomination process being turned upside down. [FAMOUS LAST WORDS!] What I do see is an effort to make some more moderate Republican (perhaps even Democratic) states a part of the exempt group of states at the beginning of the process (See the Democratic Party in 2006 with the exemption of South Carolina and Nevada.). No Republican since 1980 has won the party's nomination without winning South Carolina's primary first. Water down the impact of the Palmetto state's contest on the process with some less conservative states and the dynamics of nominee selection could be changed dramatically.

That is a far easier way of creating a path to the nomination for a more moderate Republican. It doesn't involve a complete overhaul of the system -- needed though it may be in the eyes of some -- and totally circumvents the possibility that there are multiple states that cannot comply with Republican Party rules, thus having to face holding a less representative caucus instead of a primary.

Again, nothing is written in stone at this point. But Steele's position at the top of the Republican Party makes it more likely than any of the other five candidates, save former Michigan GOP chair, Saul Anuzis, that there will be some significant changes to the 2012 presidential primary calendar.

[NOTE(S): Speaking of primary calendars, I'll be posting the dates of the contests from 1976-2008 to go along with the maps I posted last week. When that process is complete, all those maps in the left sidebar will be "click to enlarge" ready. I realize that is one major drawback to their presence there now, but the slideshow is still basically at the top of the front page. Also, I'll have a bit more on reform as the week goes on. I'm busily plowing through the symposium on presidential primary reform in the latest issue of PS as well as the Dan Lowenstein chapter on the possibility of federal intervention. Good stuff and it is all comment-worthy. Finally, thanks for your patience. I was on the road last week at a job interview and was busy, busy, busy while I was there and exhausted when I got back. That's why posting has been light since I put the maps up last week. However, with state legislatures back in session and me putting the finishing touches on my dissertation, relevant posts should be increasing in number as we head into spring.]

Recent Posts:
Presidential Primary and Caucus Dates Over Time

Presidential Primary and Caucus Dates Over Time (Take 1)

New Jersey in 2012