Last June, you might recall I shared with you a mailing from the Republican National Committee called the “Republican Presidential Primary Ballot.”
The “ballot” was really just a survey and included the names, photos and brief descriptions of 30 prospective GOP candidates. Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus and his pals wanted those who received it to “review the following list of potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates and offer your present personal assessment of them as a national leader who is able to carry our party banner into the 2016 presidential election.”
Though the current final four in the lead-up to the GOP nomination — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New York businessman Donald Trump — were among the faces on the “ballot,” two people were conspicuously absent: the men who made up the 2012 GOP presidential ticket, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
I mention all of this because after Barack Obama’s re-election, Priebus and the GOP appeared to go into Mach 25 Soul Searching mode to reinvent the party, open up the “Big Tent” wings of inclusiveness in an effort to broaden the base and get its future back on course — any course that did not include Romney and Ryan.
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Skip ahead to Tuesday’s somewhat mixed GOP results in Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan and Mississippi, and it’s clear that the Republican race to the White house remains muddled and far from over. Though there are fits and starts of movement for this candidate and that candidate, the specter that none will arrive at the July 18-21 Republican National Convention in Cleveland with the necessary 1,237 delegates is real.
The longer everyone stays in the race and the votes are spread out — even if Trump wins states — the less chance of anyone reaching the magic number. Result? Contested convention.
Priebus claims that there’s little chance of all the candidates falling short of the delegate count, and thus even less chance of a contested convention developing in July. But I’m not one to put much faith in Priebus at this point. This is the same guy who failed after four years to reshape and rebrand his party; detect Trump and the other outliers occupying his Big Tent; and produce a Plan B since Plan A has been eaten alive by anti-establishment alien invaders who were never on his radar to begin with.
What Priebus and the GOP could encounter as punishment for their inattentive and ineffective leadership is for that contested convention to unfold before their very eyes. Ryan, by virtue of being the highest-ranking elected Republican official, will serve as chairman of the Republican convention and officiate the nomination vote. In the first round, all delegates must vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged because of the results of their state primaries/caucuses.
If no one prevails, then all bets are off. Delegates could draft a dark horse, someone who never campaigned for president, someone not on the GOP “ballot” mailer months ago, someone standing right in front of them, someone reluctant but who might save his party from the ultimate Trumptation.
Someone like Speaker Ryan.
Far-fetched? Not at all — just another 180-degree turn in a presidential race that jumped the tracks a long time ago.