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Despite the reality that Donald Trump has clinched the Republican presidential nomination one committeeman is saying not so fast.
Curly Haugland, a Republican National Committeeman, and Sean Parnell, a public policy consultant wrote a commentary for CNBC in which they said Trump still had some work to do before becoming the nominee.
Namely convincing the delegates at the Republican National Convention to vote for him.
According to how the authors interpret the convention rules “each and every delegate has complete freedom to vote their conscience at the convention.”
Haugland and Parnell contend that, despite nearly every media organization’s declaration that trump has clinched the nomination, he still has to sell himself to the delegates at the convention.
While they admit that Trump is expected to be voted as the nominee they claim the right of delegates to vote their conscience has been protected since 1856 and it’s not a done deal.
The first Republican convention adopted rules requiring each delegation’s chair to announce the vote of the delegates, which was understood to mean each delegate’s vote was to be announced and recorded as they wished. The 1860 and 1868 conventions saw delegates stand up and challenge the votes announced by their delegation chairs, and in all cases the convention recorded the delegates’ votes according to their wishes and regardless of any state party rules or instructions to bind delegates votes.
At the 1876 convention, there was extensive debate over whether to accept the binding of delegates, and in the end the delegates voted to reject binding. At the 1880 convention, language was added to the convention rules to block any and all efforts to bind delegates, and on over 200 occasions since these conscience protections have been invoked, including against state laws attempting to bind delegates to primary results.
In 1976, the campaign of President Gerald Ford managed to get the convention rule amended to permit binding of delegates as part of a strategy to block former California Gov. Ronald Reagan from getting the nomination. In 1980 this language was removed, and the temporary rules for the 2016 convention include almost exactly the same language as the rule first added in 1880.
Whether directed by state party rules or state law, the Republican National Convention has never, with the exception of 1976, forced delegates to vote against their conscience. So if Trump wants to be the Republican nominee, he will have one last sales job of persuading the delegates to nominate him – and this time he’ll need a majority, something he hasn’t managed so far in caucus and primary votes.
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