Democracy Dies in Darkness

The Fix

RNC member: 'Political parties choose their nominee, not the general public'

By Niraj Chokshi

March 16, 2016 at 5:33 PM

A delegate wears a quilt jacket at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Curly Haugland, a Republican National Committee member, says the nomination process is pretty straightforward: The party, not the voters, chooses the nominee.

In an appearance on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday morning, Haugland, a North Dakotan and current member of the RNC's Rules Committee, said that any assumption otherwise is misguided.

"That's the problem: The media has created the perception that the voters will decide the nomination," he said. He went on: "Political parties choose their nominee, not the general public, contrary to popular belief."

Technically, this is true. The nomination is decided by delegates to this summer's convention, not directly by voters. But it's probably not a terribly helpful argument to make at a time when Republican establishment types are openly talking about wresting the GOP nomination from Donald Trump at the convention. Trump has said doing so could lead to "riots."

And the RNC said in a statement to The Washington Post that those delegates must represent the voters.

"Every RNC member is entitled to have their own interpretation of the rules," RNC spokeswoman Allison Moore said. "However, the rules clearly require states to bind their delegates based off of the state's preference vote."

It's important to note in all of this that the rules governing the convention itself are subject to change: A 112-member convention rules committee will convene at the start of the event and will be able to revise and set at least some of its own rules. Its members — one man and one woman from each state and territory — are elected by their peers. North Dakota's will not be elected until after the state convention in April.

Read more:

Donald Trump just hit a critical threshold for the GOP nomination — one that his opponents might not

Everything you need to know about delegate math in the presidential primary

This is what happens if Republicans face a brokered convention

GOP preparing for contested convention


Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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