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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Newt Gingrich And Florida Residents Challenging Florida's Winner-Take-All Rule

By Susan Duclos

Keep in mind when reading the post below that Gingrich won 34 out of 67 counties in Florida with Romney winning 33 counties.

Newt Gingrich to challenge the winner-take-all rule Florida adopted this year on the grounds that it is against the RNC's own rules which state that no state can be a winner-take-all state prior to April 1, 2012.

Fox News has learned exclusively that on Thursday, a Florida Gingrich campaign official will begin the process of trying to have the RNC rules enforced so that the Sunshine State delegates are distributed based on the percentage of the vote each candidate got.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus warned Florida Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry of the violation in a December letter quoting the rule, "...'winner-take-all' states cannot hold a primary or caucus before April 1, 2012."


Gingrich won 34 out of 67 counties in Florida and Mitt Romney won 33 counties. A proportional allocation of delegates which all states conducting primaries before April are supposed to use, would give Romney less delegates to add to his totals.

AllahPundit over at Hot Air, crunches the numbers:

Newt’s goal here, of course, is to signal to his supporters that he’s in the race for the long haul by scrapping for every available delegate. If Florida used the simplest possible proportional rules instead of “winner take all,” Romney would win 23 delegates from his 46 percent last night and Newt would win 16 — reducing a 50-delegate margin to just seven in one fell swoop. Problem is, the RNC’s already punished Florida once for moving its primary up by taking half its delegates away; if they forced them to go proportional on top of that, it would be an additional sanction. So, to compromise, they could in theory restore all of Florida’s delegates and then award those proportionally. That would mean, obviously, 46 for Mitt and 32 for Newt for a margin of 14. Team Mitt will battle to preserve the current “winner take all” scenario, but as we get closer to the convention, Florida pols will inevitably start demanding that all of the state’s delegates be seated notwithstanding its violation of RNC rules. (The same thing happened in the 2008 Democratic primary between Obama and Hillary, you may remember. Eventually the full Florida delegation was reinstated when the results of the primary became immaterial to Obama’s overall victory.) It’d be hard for the RNC under any circumstances to ignore claims that it’s disenfranchising swing-state Floridians by penalizing the state, but the convention this year is in … Tampa. Good luck telling half the Florida delegation to go home when they already are home. Which means if Mitt and Newt end up battling to the bitter end, the proportional scenario may be the compromise solution.

This is not the first discussion on this issue as Tampa Bay Tribune explained on January 26, 2012, and by ABC News on the 28th.

That's not guaranteed, however. All it takes is a registered Florida Republican to file a protest with the RNC, and the party's contest committee would have to consider the issue when it meets in August just before the convention.

"August is going to be a very tense month for those of us on the committee on contests. We could be the group that everybody loves or everybody hates," said Fredi Simpson, an RNC member from Washington state who sits on that committee and also helped write the rules.

Like other RNC members, Simpson thinks the rules clearly bar Florida from being winner-take-all. At an RNC meeting in August, members of the Presidential Nominating and Selection Committee passed a resolution calling for the RNC to enforce its rules for proportional delegates on states like Florida that set primaries earlier than April.

"Florida ought to be proportional, and it is up to the RNC legal office to figure out how they do that. That was absolutely the intention when we wrote that rule," said Pete Ricketts, an RNC member from Nebraska who served on the RNC committee appointed in 2008 to draw up delegate selection rules for 2012.

From the Gingrich memo:

Any registered Republican voter within the State of Florida is authorized to challenge the RNC's application (or lack of application) of Revised Rile 15(b)(2)with the RNC's Contest Committee and ultimately on the floor of the Republican Convention. Such a challenge would call upon the RNC to apply this rule as to the allocation of delegates for each and every state that conducts its binding primary or caucus prior to April 1, 2012. It is my understanding that such challenges have already been filed with the RNC with respect to the State of Florida.

It is important to note that RNC Rules supersede any state party rules or state statutes with respect to Republican Party delegate allocation. The rules as to the allocation and recording of delegates at the convention are completely and solely within the authority of the RNC.

The battle for Florida may be over but the battle for the Florida delegates may have just begun.