One of the frustrating things about watching the political scene right now is the feeling that only rich people and lobbyists are being heard by our elected officials. I am willing to admit that I often have that feeling. However, sometimes the obstacles that keep average Americans from being properly represented come from the parties that claim to represent them.
I spent today in Raleigh, North Carolina, in the state legislative buildings. I was part of a group that spoke with a number of state representatives and senators. I also attended a committee hearing on education issues. So what did our group accomplish? First of all, I need to explain that we were a group of eleven Republicans from the 3rd Congressional District of North Carolina. We went to Raleigh to talk to our representatives about a number of issues.
The North Carolina legislature is structured in such a way that if a House of Representatives or Senate bill does not make it out of its committee by April 30th, the bill will not be heard in this year’s session. Because it is April 28th, the legislative building was a very busy place. There were an awful lot of lobbyists running around. We were a group of unpaid, ordinary citizens. However, we did speak to a number of legislators.
One of the issues our group was concerned about was the date of the Republican Presidential Primary Election in North Carolina. The primary was originally scheduled for one week after the South Carolina primary, which would have put it in February. The Republican National Committee told the State of North Carolina Republicans that if their primary was held before March 1st, they would have 12 delegates attending the Republican National Convention, rather than the 72 they were originally assigned. The State Republicans were told that if they held their primary before March 15th, the delegates would be distributed proportionally according to the results of the primary election. If the primary were held after March 15th, it would be a winner-take-all primary. Currently a bill has passed out of committee in the North Carolina House of Representatives to hold the Republican Primary on March 8. Many North Carolina Republicans are hoping the date on that bill will be changed to March 22–the first Tuesday after March 15th. So what is this all about? An article posted by National Review on September 3, 2014, explains exactly what is going on in its headline, “Proportional allocation of delegates in early-voting states will make it hard for non-establishment candidates to rack up leads.”
That is the game being played, and that is the reason that grass-roots candidates are having such a hard time in the Presidential primaries.
The article reports:
This is a potential death sentence for the conservative candidate. Most of the highly conservative southern states traditionally hold their primaries inside of the March 1–14 window. If that occurs again in 2016, a conservative candidate will probably not gain many delegates over the establishment choice by winning the states in his base. Even if a southern state in the window allocates, as many non-southern states do, three delegates to each congressional district on a winner-take-all basis, the proportional allocation of the statewide delegates will place a conservative statewide winner at a severe disadvantage. He or she will then have to compete in less hospitable states that have the freedom to select all of their delegates by winner-take-all methods.
The article shows how the new rules could prevent a conservative from winning the nomination:
The 2016 preliminary lineup already foreshadows this danger. According to the website FrontloadingHQ.com, ten of the 15 southern or border states (including Texas, Virginia, and North Carolina) are currently scheduled to hold their contests before March 14. Three other caucus states where conservatives traditionally do well (Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado) are also scheduled to hold their contests before the window closes. Conservative Utah is also in this group, as are the two midwestern states where Rick Santorum did best in 2012, Michigan and Ohio.
Under the RNC’s new rules, a conservative could run the table in these events and yet barely open up a delegate lead. The establishment choice could easily make up ground and then some in less conservative states such as Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
The Republican Party is signing its death warrant if it continues to attempt to shut out conservative voters and conservative candidates. The energy in the party has come from the conservative movement, and the boots on the ground have generally been conservative. The establishment wants to hold the power, but they are not generally the ones doing the groundwork.
I am hoping the North Carolina legislature will move the Republican primary to March 22, but I am not optimistic.