July 26, 2007

Choosing Rhode Island’s GOP Presidential Delegates.

Carroll Andrew Morse

Two technical issues regarding the Rhode Island Presidential primary are being considered by the RI Republican State Central Committee tonight…

  1. Will Rhode Island apportion its delegates to the Republican Presidential Nomination Convention on a proportional basis, or on a winner-take all basis?
  2. Will the majority of delegates who represent a specific candidate be chosen before or after primary day?
Delegates could be appointed by the state party chair after the primary has occurred, or the names of the delegates who would represent a specific candidate could appear on the primary ballot and be formally chosen by the voters as part of the primary. The important difference is that under the direct-election system, everyone wanting to be a delegate has to declare who their candidate is by the time the ballots are printed.

Some members of the Rhode Island GOP would prefer the appointment system, but Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Gio Cicione does not appear to be one of them. Here is an excerpt from his statement on the proposed changes…

There is before you a proposal to change our delegate selection process that was prepared at my request by an ad-hoc group including, Mia Caetano, David Talan, and John Clarke. Their proposal modifies or most recent rules in two key ways: First, it goes from a winner-take-all system to a proportional representation process, as is being considered in many other states. Second, it provides that all delegates are elected rather than allowing the chair to appoint the majority of the seats as was our recent practice…

I want to remind the State Central Committee that our Executive Committee reviewed the proposed amendment and voted July 12th in favor of it and that due weight should be accorded the actions of that committee and the ad-hoc drafting committee.

That being said, as Chair it is not my intention to dictate the process for delegate selection upon the full State Central Committee. That is why I am asking the full State Central Committee to review the amendments, engage in a discussion and then move to a vote.

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This doesn't affect me, but I would offer the following thoughts-

1. Dividing delegates proportionately will weaken Rhode Island's position relative to the presidential race. Presidential candidates already pay little attention to RI given its small size. This will only further dilute RI's influence.

2. While dividing delegates proportionately reduces RI's overall influence, it should help conservative presidential candidates. RI Republican voters are more moderate than Republican primary voters in other parts of the country, so moderates benefit under the winner-take-all approach.

3. Electing delegates at the polls may lead to mini-campaigns for delegate spots requiring money to be spent. This favors wealthier individuals and those who may already have some level of notoriety, particularly those who hold or have run for public office. "Grunt" GOP activists working behind the scenes may get locked out of the process. On the other hand, it should elminate charges of favortism.

Posted by: Anthony at July 26, 2007 4:06 PM

It doesn't affect you, why Anthony? Because you're still "healing". Still can't get over the fact that you lost your cozy position as suck-up to the worst U.S. Senator, ever.

If you think its all about you, Anthony...but this post isn't about you... then why don't you just shut up?

Posted by: perry ellis at July 26, 2007 10:49 PM

"If you think its all about you, Anthony...but this post isn't about you... then why don't you just shut up?"

Congratulations, perry, you just proved Carcieri's point that RI needs to improve its educational system.

Posted by: Anthony at July 26, 2007 11:03 PM

The changes proposed by the ad hoc committee were passed resoundingly. The Chairman no longer has the ability to appoint these delegates and the delegates will be proportioned, not winner-take-all.

Posted by: SusanD at July 26, 2007 11:40 PM

Concurring with SusanD -- who was kind enough to grace us with her presence this evening in Barrington -- the good guys (and gals) won this fight big-time. We not only outsmarted them, but frankly, we had momementum very early on and it never let up. Bernie Jackvony and a few of the "old guard" types had probably their best chance in a long time tonight to completely scuttle any meaningful change for another 4 years, but they lost by humiliatingly large margins over and over in their desperate attempts to gut all of the proposed reforms. I really think they thought they had some support going into tonight, and were definitely humbled by the complete lack of any for their POV. I almost felt bad!

Basically, under what we approved tonight, 17 of the 20 delegates will be elected, instead of 14 (of 20) being appointed by the Chair. We will also have a proportional representation system which guarantees representation for any candidate receiving at least 15% of the vote statewide. This should encourage more candidates to try to compete for Rhode Island's delegates, since the threshhold to receive them will be more realistic to obtain, especially considering the wide open field.

The original proposed rules, with a few slight wording corrections passed overwhelmingly, after approximately 2 1/2 hours of considerable discussion, debate, amendments, parliamentary procedure, skullduggery, personal attacks, more than a little yelling, and other standard political stuff (Media, you missed a good one!).

It was a real breath of fresh air and a hopeful sign of a better future ahead for us. It was also a big show of support by the grassroots representatives of the party for the more open and transparent style of leadership that Gio has been exercising in his short time as Chair (looking towards the future, not focusing as much on the past, with the overall goal of building the party). I give him credit for simply doing the right thing; not the self-serving thing, as is still much too common in the RI GOP.

The people tonight knew what we've been doing hasn't been working, and were simply open to something different. If the rules that we approved tonight turn out to be a complete disaster, so be it. The sky won't fall -- but at least we'll know we tried to do something good. Rules are meant to be changed, so if the ones we adopted for 2008 don't work out so well, we can always change them for 2012. There's a saying, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Tonight, we at least proved that most of the party members are not nuts!

PS I'd place even money that Bernie's next "Outrage of the Week" on a Lively Experiment will somehow relate to this meeting tonight! He was p----d! (I loved it!)

Posted by: Will at July 27, 2007 1:31 AM

Words that I never thought would be spoken (or written) by Will:

"Rules are meant to be changed"

I don't know why, but somehow that just doesn't sound "right"

Posted by: Tom at July 27, 2007 7:01 AM

I was going for irony, or something like that, I think. The saying usually goes "Rules are meant to be broken." My attempt at humor, but it also has some truth to it to. We're not writing the Ten Commandments. If something doesn't work, we can always modify them at a later time based on what we're learned.

Posted by: Will at July 27, 2007 8:49 AM

I am EUPHORIC about last night's vote.I just learned about this through the blog.I planned to go but the delegate did not attend at the last minute as well as an alternate who would not be attending.
A couple of observations as you know I was very annoyed about how the delegate selection process was done in 2004,.Only Bernie Jackvony and I are the only people who ran as Bush delegates in the 2ND Congressional District BOTH in 2000 and 2004.Despite the fact of my Bush loyalty and I was a sitting Hopkinton Town Council member I was NOT selected as a delegate or alternate delegate.
Patricia Morgan promoted an "open contest" which was a farce.I with others became embroiled in a related court case because of it.We put a slate together and challenged the "anointed slate" of at large delegate and alternate delegate candidates for the national GOP convention at the state GOP state convention in June,2004; and while we lost we stood up to the state GOP establishment.
I realize this change has pluses and minuses.I realize that it decreases Rhode Island influence perhaps as far as delegate process goes with a particular Presidential nominee but seriously when we last a "king maker" in a race to The White House?
Remember the General Assembly NOT moving the primary date to February? That did not do Rhode Island well as the victor(s) in primaries/caucuses before then will be likely favored to win BOTH Rhode Island Presidential Primaries.The primary will be in March.
At the end of the day this may very be the best to come out of it:
More internal harmony in the Rhode Island GOP.I and a number of others were ticked off about the 2004 delegate selection process.By taking virtually all delegate selection process out of the hands of the state GOP Chair it reduces a lot of pressure from the Chair by leaving it up to the voters.The only pressure I see with on the State GOP Chair is to fill vacancies closer to the convention.
Another thought is our process may be more open than the Democratic one.I recall Rhode Island Democrats do not have a winner take all system.I believe all their delegates except "Super Delegates" are elected?Perhaps some one knows for sure.
I thank Gio,Mia,Dave,and John, for their leadership on this.I am curious who else actively opposed this.
It is a bit "funny", those elected delegate/alternate delegate will in most cases actually have to do a little work such as collecting signatures and the like to make this selection.o paraphase an old advertisement "We made it the hard way,we earned it"!
Scott Bill Hirst
Member,Hopkinton,R.I.,Town Council,1996-2004
Republican Presidential Preimary Delegate Candidate,2ND District,1992 (Bush,"Sr."),1996 (Dole),2000 and 2004 (Bush,"W",).

Posted by: Scott Bill Hirst at July 27, 2007 11:01 AM

Wow! Anthony! You got me on grammar in an ad-hoc forum! I surrender...you win! Everything's great in Rhode Island! Chafee's a genius!

Posted by: perry ellis at July 31, 2007 10:07 PM
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