Republicans from Texas are leading a mutiny at their national nominating convention in Tampa and fighting proposed rule changes that they say amount to a power grab by entrenched GOP operatives at the expense of grassroots activism.
The issue could explode in a floor fight Tuesday, just after Republican leaders open the first full day of the convention and turn to consider party rules. Although the process is usually a quiet one, the dispute over the new delegate selection process proposal advanced by Mitt Romney supporters threatens to shine a spotlight on the schism.
The proposed change, which is aimed at muting the power of insurgent candidates like Tea Party favorite Ron Paul, would effectively allow presidential nominees to disavow and decide delegates bound to them at the nominating convention and selected under state rules. Delegates who are allocated to a presidential candidate would only be certified if they had been pre-certified or approved by the presidential candidate for whom they are bound to vote.
Texans, who select their delegates through a voting process that often elevates grassroots activists, say the change is an affront to the Lone Star State.
“We believe in Texas as a principle that no presidential candidate nor the RNC should be able to tell Texas who can or cannot be a delegate to the national convention,” said Butch Davis, one of two Texans on the RNC rules committee. “It’s not a plain vanilla political fight. It’s a fundamental principle that we’re arguing for.”
Davis said the battle is one over fundamental freedoms and voting rights.
“This isn’t a vanilla political fight, this isn’t Reagan versus Ford, Goldwater versus Rockefeller,” Davis said. “This is George Washington versus King George.”
“We won’t allow this control by Republican candidate to take place,” Davis added.
Texas has been joined by representatives from Iowa, Louisiana, Virginia and other states in trying to fend off the rules. They have advanced a “minority report” that would strip out the delegate disavowal provision, but it only can come to a vote if at least 25 percent of the rules committee members — or 29 people — support it.
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