RNC Adopts Historic Rules Changes   - ema 01/24/14
At its August 2013 Summer Meeting in Boston the RNC established a subcommittee of the Rules Committee to consider changes to the presidential nomination rules.  The process in 2012 was seen to have a number of shortcomings, including six months of candidates "slicing and dicing" each other in myriad debates, states disregarding penalties and pushing to hold their contests earlier, and a several-month period between the time when the nominee was determined and when he (or she) could start spending on the general election campaign.  The 17-person (including ex-officio members) Subcommittee on 2016 Delegate Selection Rules, chaired by Randy Evans, RNC Committeeman from Georgia, met two times, on Nov. 15 and on Dec. 11, and produced a package of proposed rules changes.  On Jan. 23, 2014 at RNC Winter Meeting in Washington, DC, the standing committee on Rules approved the full package with only a couple of minor clarifying adjustments; the next day the full RNC passed the changes on a 153-9 vote.

Fact Sheet from Republican National Committee

RNC Rules Changes

January 24, 2014
·        After the 2012 presidential election it became clear the Party needed to take steps to help give our future presidential nominees a better infrastructure to help win the White House;

·        A subcommittee on Rules has spent the past several months examining the primary process looking for reforms and working off of the vision for a late June/early July national convention;

·        The plan reflects conversations with the grassroots of our party and will implement a new primary structure that gives the candidates time to make their cases to Republican voters and makes sure our eventual nominee will have the resources needed to win in the general election;

·        Changes:

o   The carve outs (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada) remain in February

o   Other states can start their contests on or after March 1

  The proportional window is reinstated but for a shorter duration. Any contest between March 1st and March 14th will be proportional

o   Any contest after March 14th can go proportional or winner take all

o   The window for selection of alternates and delegates moved from 35 days before the convention to 45 days before the convention. There is a waiver process for states that are required by law to hold a primary but are not in compliance with the 45 day window and aren’t under Republican control.

o   New penalties: “If any state or state Republican Party violates Rule No. 16(c)(1) of The Rules of the Republican Party, the number of delegates to the national convention shall be reduced for those states with 30 or more total delegates to nine (9) plus the members of the Republican National Committee from that state, and for those states with 29 or fewer total delegates to six (6) plus the members of the Republican National Committee from that state.  The corresponding alternate delegates shall also be reduced accordingly.

 ***Note: the Rules Committee did not address the date of the next convention. That is likely to come in the Spring but the Chairman has made it clear he wants a late June, early July convention.  Once that date is selected the end date of the primary calendar will become clear.

Update on RNC Rules [PDF] Deliberations    - ema 03/12/14
In past cycles, the rules of the RNC for the next four years were set at the Republican National Convention.  At the 2012 Convention in Tampa, the RNC adopted Rule 12, which allows for some of the rules to be amended in the intervening period.

"The Republican National Committee may, by three-fourths (3/4) vote of its entire membership, amend Rule Nos. 1-11 and 13-25. Any such amendment shall be considered by the Republican National Committee only if it was passed by a majority vote of the Standing Committee on Rules after having been submitted in writing at least ten (10) days in advance of its consideration by the Republican National Committee and shall take effect thirty (30) days after adoption. No such amendment shall be adopted after September 30, 2014." 

As outlined above, during the RNC Winter Meeting Jan. 22-24, 2014, the party adopted "historic" rules changes designed to produce a more compressed 2016 presidential primary schedule.

There remain a number of ongoing discussions over the rules.  The rules adopted in Tampa were significantly influenced by Ben Ginsberg, acting for the Romney campaign and acting with a Romney re-election campaign in mind. 

One key question is whether delegates can be bound by state laws.  The argument here is that the RNC is "an unincorporated association of individuals created and governed by The Rules of the Republican Party;" as such the selection of the nominee should be determined by the grassroots members and state law should not have a bearing.  Yet at the Spring 2013 meeting the RNC adopted language that says, "The Secretary of the Convention shall faithfully announce and record each delegates' vote in accordance with the delegates obligation under these rules, state law, or state party rule." (Rule 16(b)(2)).

Another question arises on the actual nomination of candidates for President and Vice President.  Rule No. 40 requires "a certificate evidencing the affirmative written support of the required number of permanently seated delegates from each of the eight (8) or more states shall have been submitted to the secretary of the convention..."  Note the words "permanently seated delegates."  Credentials of delegates and alternates selected in primaries and caucuses are submitted to the RNC for creation of the temporary roll of the national convention (Rule 20).  Only after the convention credentials committee meets are the delegations permanently seated.  Thus if a number of candidates can keep their campaigns going until June 2016, the result could be an open convention.