The GOP’s Convention Crackup

Attorney General for Virginia and Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli speaks during a debate with former DNC Chair and Democratic candidate Terry McAuliff on September 25, 2013 in McLean, Virginia. Voters go to the polls November 5 to decide which candidate will replace incumbent governor Bob McDonnell, who has reached his term limits. 
National Journal
Josh Kraushaar
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Josh Kraushaar
Oct. 23, 2013, 7:40 a.m.

Elec­tion rules de­signed to be­ne­fit con­ser­vat­ives have played an un­her­al­ded role in push­ing the party right­ward, while also cost­ing them at the bal­lot box. The most not­able: The party’s prac­tice, in sev­er­al states, of hold­ing con­ven­tions in­stead of primar­ies to choose nom­in­ees. Those con­ven­tions typ­ic­ally draw an un­rep­res­ent­at­ive cross-sec­tion of single-is­sue act­iv­ists.

— In Vir­gin­ia, Ken Cuc­cinelli‘s al­lies by­passed the primary pro­cess to blunt in­tra­party op­pos­i­tion, a move that’s con­trib­uted to his prob­lems uni­fy­ing the party. Iron­ic­ally, the out­spoken con­ser­vat­ive is be­latedly try­ing to rally the base, something that would have been much easi­er had he en­gaged the broad­er GOP elect­or­ate in a primary cam­paign. The con­ven­tion also nom­in­ated scan­dal-plagued pas­tor E.W. Jack­son as their LG nom­in­ee, thanks to his red-meat con­ven­tion speech. As­sum­ing he loses, the party lost out on groom­ing a fu­ture GOP gubernat­ori­al can­did­ate for 2017.

— Re­pub­lic­ans are fa­cing their next loom­ing crisis in Iowa, for the state’s very-win­nable open seat Sen­ate race. A crowded cast of can­did­ates is vy­ing for the GOP nom­in­a­tion, but party rules guar­an­tee a con­ven­tion if no one hits 35% of the vote. That pos­sib­il­ity is grow­ing, with party lead­ers do­ing noth­ing to avert the out­come. A con­ven­tion would start the pro­cess over, rais­ing the like­li­hood of a weak can­did­ate emer­ging.

— Re­pub­lic­ans won’t have trouble hold­ing a Sen­ate seat in Utah, but Sen. Mike Lee‘s polit­ic­al chal­lenges back home also show­case the party’s con­cerns over con­ven­tions. He be­nefited from the state’s unique sys­tem, where Re­pub­lic­ans hold a con­ven­tion to win­now down can­did­ates be­fore a po­ten­tial primary. Utah Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers (led by former Gov. Leav­itt) are already ral­ly­ing to shift to an open primary nom­in­at­ing pro­cess.

The con­ven­tion prob­lem only im­pacts Re­pub­lic­ans in a few states, but it’s en­dem­ic of the party’s prob­lems nom­in­at­ing elect­able can­did­ates. And the con­sequences of elec­tion rules be­ne­fit­ing grass­roots act­iv­ists will play a much great­er role in the run-up to 2016.

What We're Following See More »
FCC Tightens Internet Privacy Standards
11 hours ago

Along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to tighten privacy standards for Internet service providers. "The regulations will require providers to receive explicit customer consent before using an individual’s web browsing or app usage history for marketing purposes. The broadband industry fought to keep that obligation out of the rules."

Clinton Up 9 in USA Today Poll; Up 3 According to Fox
16 hours ago

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds Clinton leads Trump by 9 points nationwide, 47% to 38%. A Fox News national poll has Clinton up just three points, 44% to 41% over Trump.

Cruz: Eight Justices Could Be an Ongoing Situation
18 hours ago

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that "there was “precedent” for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices—appearing to suggest that the blockade on nominee Merrick Garland could last past the election." Speaking to reporters in Colorado, Cruz said: "I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”

DNC Sues RNC Over Trump’s Rigged Vote Comments
21 hours ago

The Democratic National Committee sued the Republican National Committee in U.S. District Court in New Jersey for aiding GOP nominee Donald Trump as he argues that the presidential election is "rigged." The DNC claims "that Trump's argument is designed to suppress the vote in minority communities."

Clinton Foundation Staffers Steered Biz to Bill
1 days ago

"Two chief fundraisers for the Clinton Foundation pressed corporate donors to steer business opportunities to former President Bill Clinton as well, according to a hacked memo published Wednesday by WikiLeaks. The November 2011 memo from Douglas Band, at the time a top aide to Mr. Clinton, outlines extensive fundraising efforts that Mr. Band and a partner deployed on behalf of the Clinton Foundation and how that work sometimes translated into large speaking fees and other paid work for Mr. Clinton."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.