Friday, February 3, 2012

Newt Opens A Can Of Worms

Mitt Romney won the Florida primary by a healthy margin, and walked away with all the Florida delegates under the winner-take-all system. Or did he? Contender Newt Gingrich says "not so fast." The Republican National Committee (RNC), in an attempt to keep primaries from being held too long before the general election, imposed Rule 15(b)(2) in 2008. That rule provided that with named exceptions, delegates chosen before March 1 must be allocated proportionately.

Rule 16 provides that any state that does not conform with the "early primary" rules must lose half its delegates at the nominating convention. But neither Rule 15 nor 16 provides for an immediate enforcement mechanism regarding proportional allocation of delegates. What Rule 16 does is leave the issue open, unless and until a "proper contest is brought." In that case, the Committee on Contests of the RNC may hear the contest, then decide on the proper course of action. Well, Newt Gingrich has launched a "proper contest."

The RNC enforcement provisions did not stop Florida from moving its primary to a date before March 1, and it seems unlikely that it will be any more successful in telling the states what to do by attempting to proportionalize the results of the recent primary. Case law favors a state's right to choose its own rules for picking delegates. As recently as California Democratic Party v. Jones (530 US 567, 2000) the US Supreme Court held that a state political party has the inherent right to choose its own method of electing and apportioning delegates. The Court specifically said that in matters of state political party organization, "any outside attempt to preempt the right of a [state] party to choose its own leaders is functionally both severe and unnecessary."

The Court followed a long line of precedent establishing that the First Amendment right of freedom of association protects the integrity of state political procedures. Gingrich will be fighting an uphill battle, even if the RNC should hear the contest and decide that Florida must affirm its convention delegation proportionately. Florida is highly unlikely to give up its winner-take-all system because of a nebulous and muddy RNC rule with wide-open enforcement provisions.

The issue seems to come down to that old philosophical question: Just because you can do a thing, does that mean you ought to do that thing? Gingrich has every right to launch his contest of the winner-take-all primary. But should he? My personal opinion is that he should not. Not only does it further divide a party which can only win in November with strong unity, but it slaps a major swing state in the face. It seems like just another chapter in Gingrich's peckishness and increasingly personal vendetta against Mitt Romney. Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Gingrich himself would benefit somewhat from a proportioned delegation, but the cost seems far too high.

Not only does the contest potentially cause problems in a swing state which has already lost half its delegates to the convention, but it would also likely cause dissension and disarray within the RNC as well. The likelihood that the contest will benefit Gingrich in the long run is also in doubt. Republicans don't like sore losers, and at a time when the Party is attempting to resolve its conservative/moderate dichotomy, this action just muddies the waters even more. This will just be another sideshow in an already-contentious candidate selection process.

Thoughts?

30 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - I agree with your point - he should not file the contest. I realize that this is a rough and tumble game, but it probably needlessly decisive. It would be easy to attack Newt as thinking only about himself, but honestly, I could not blame someone for using a legal maneuver IF it catapulted him into the winner's circle. I think the contest will be over, and perhaps, Newt will have the sense to let it die quietly.

It will also be interesting to see if Newt gets behind Romney after he loses to him. One of the reasons I have a hard time supporting Newt is I suspect he won't. He looks like an egomaniac of the magnitude of Clinton and Obama.

StanH said...

While at this early date, to win the nomination you must win 1144 delegates, perhaps he has a point. However as it becomes clearer, he should back the hell off, and I suspect he will. His churlish tone aside, he is a life long Republican, and will want to be invited to the best cocktail party’s, and will magically fall in line.

Kit said...

Apparently, Newt is trying to bring Santorum backers over to his side.
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/290040/gingrich-vs-santorum-robert-costa
(no time to do link stuff)

Someone in the comments imagined the conversation:


----------------------------

"Look, guys, Rick is fundamentally and profoundly unable to win the Nomination, that's obvious from the fact he lost Florida and South Carolina."

"But Newt, you lost Iowa, and Rick won it, and you lost Florida too?"

"Well, uh, that's irrelevant in a fundamental and profound way. Obviously I'm the only one who can successfully debate Obama in the Fall."

"But Newt, you blew the debate in Florida and lost all your momentum from South Carolina?"

"But see, that is fundamentally and profoundly irrelevant. Obviously social conservatives will rally to me, not Mitt or Rick."

"Because they'll feel comfortable supporting a guy with three marriages and two adulterous affairs in his past, rather than two guys with one marriage and not a hint of sexual scandal behind them?"

"Look, it's fundamentally and profoundly obvious. Any intelligent person, such as myself, can see how I am the superior candidate."

------------------------------

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: I do worry that Gingrich will go into a snit and refuse to support the nominee (which seems likely to be Romney at this point). If he were younger, he might be able to get his anger in check, but this is pretty much his last chance, and his bitterness is palpable.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: I hope you're right. I can't be sure how much of this is "staged rage" and how much is real, but it does look very real to me. There's probably a place for him in a Republican administration, but he'll have to support the nominee and mend a lot of fences.

LawHawkRFD said...

Kit: Funny and tragic, at the same time.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, I agree with your opinion on it. Someone mentioned the other day that it's a bit like someone in a football game stopping the play to tell the ref the other team had twelve men on the field. It's kind of a jerk move, but rules are rules no matter who's bringing them up. However, this is also partly an image contest, and Newt does himself and the party no favors by making such a scene. Besides, he knew all this going into Florida; he should have brought it up beforehand, if at all.

Like you and Jed, I have my doubts about whether Newt will support Romney. I think he really believes that Mitt stabbed him in the back in Iowa, and is angry enough about it to take his ball and go home.

BevfromNYC said...

Kit - Sadly, that is probably exactly the way Gingrich sees the issues and himself. All facts are irrelevant except that he should win at all cost!

LawHawk - You are right that Conservatives do not like sore losers. I can't imagine that any reasonable person can think this will end oup well for Newt. That says a lot about Gingrich, his election team, and reality.

If he wants to win then he needs to explain and run on his record. This b.s. legal runarounds are not helping except they are letting everyone see what a jackass Newt really is. The fact that he couldn't even call Romney after the Florida primary says alot too.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Nobody should know the rough and tumble of electoral politics better than Gingrich. But unless he's a far better actor than I give him credit for, he's taking this very personally.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: The candidates who have dropped out so far have been gracious. For instance, I like Perry a lot more now than I did when he was still running. Bachmann and even Huntsman fit into that category. I think that Pawlenty is Gingrich's opposite. He left the field graciously and honorably, but I also think he gave up too soon. I don't know if Gingrich will know when to quit, and I'm not sure he even knows how to quit.

AndrewPrice said...

Just as the court said in Virginia, if Gingrich didn't like the rules, he should have sued before he lost the vote... not waited to see how it turned out.

tryanmax said...

I can only sum up my thoughts thusly: LINK

Tennessee Jed said...

Although Gingrich could help the eventual nominee by sharing some of his good lines, I would be happy enough if he took his ball and stayed home as long as he keeps his stink off the eventual candidate. As the Hippocratic Oath states "first do no harm."

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Good point. Gingrich's staff is like Gingrich himself. They're winging it, planning only for wins, unprepared for losses or unexpected contingencies, changing direction with the wind, and grasping at straws. I don't want a candidate like that, and I sure as hell don't want a President like that.

StanH said...

If one look at history with Newt, the answer may be there. When he was forced out of his speakership, with the back and forth and recriminations flying, like a good party politician he fell back in line. In ’88 he fell from favor with Reagan and was an agitator through Bush 1, only to reclaim the spotlight in ’94, with the Contract With America. Since it’s reality, “maybe” this will strengthen Romney get out the garbage? You know the glass half full scenario.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: Is that Obama's campaign song or Gingrich's swan song? LOL

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: Giving the nominee his endorsement than going home and shutting up is the best scenario. If Gingrich starts to explain why he is supporting him, we're in real trouble.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: I see much of your point. I just figure that Obama already has the largest mud reservoir in political history to throw at the Republican candidate, and we don't need one of our own mixing up another batch to add to the reserve.

rlaWTX said...

Hey, Andrew,
Jonah Goldberg's only a month behind...
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/290033/case-romney-jonah-goldberg

Your article was 1/3/12.

tryanmax said...

Wow, Goldberg is basically making the same case as Andrew. (possible lurker?) I like Goldberg's analogy of a transaction. I just re-read Andrew's article, and I think that is a bit better way of saying what Andrew was getting at in the closing paragraphs.

rlaWTX said...

Andrew, it certainly couldn't hurt!!! a series of articles "The Case for..." Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, etc. might help up the chances of actual accurate clairvoyance fulfillment!

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: There's a dictum in equity which says "when all equities are equal, first in time is first in right." So I vote for Andrew. LOL

LawHawkRFD said...

rlaWTX: I think your comment was in response to my Bobby Jindal remark, right? And I agree, a case could be made for Rubio and Ryan as well. But the question becomes "is anyone out there listening to us?"

tryanmax said...

LawHawk, whatever you will. However, I don't think there is a baby to split in this case. I say we adopt Goldberg as a lurker and count the equities doubled.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: Fair enough. Equitable, even. LOL

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Thanks for linking my article at National Review! It's always good to hear that people agree with Commentarama! :)


tryanmax, You and I are through... finished....

// wipes away tear

Just kidding.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, I didn't mean to make you cry. I never knew there could be tears of sarcasm, though.

Tennessee Jed said...

Actually, the National Review guy who first made a good case for Mitt was Ramesh Ponnuru. I still get the non-green paper magazine edition of National Review, and this was in the December 19th issue. The argument was somewhat similar in that the feeling was that if Romney won the White House, it is likely McConnell and Boehner would be majority leaders--the most conservative in modern times and would exert a rightward influence on Romney.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I'm a lawyer, tears of sarcasm are something of a specialty.


Jed, I'm sure there have been many others as well. That said, my point isn't actually that Boehner and McConnell will make him conservative, it's that he will make himself conservative because either his conversion is genuine or he will try to match the public mood. Either way.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: And I tend to agree with that idea. If Romney faces that situation, the only way he can succeed is to work closely with the two leaders. Otherwise, we get another confrontational one-term president and probably a turnover in Congress for being another "do nothing" body. And this time, it might actually be true. Obama blamed the Republicans even though he had control of the White House and both houses of Congress. People are seeing through his excuses now, and the same would happen to Romney and Congress.

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