Three months have passed, 36 states and territories have voted, and the Republican party has yet to settle on a presidential nominee. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have pinned their hopes on a brokered convention in which committee members, most of whom can vote independently, could play a decisive role. Nonetheless, members of the Republican National Committee tell National Review Online that a brokered convention is unlikely to happen. And thankfully so, since most members believe it would harm the party’s chances of victory in November.
“There won’t be a brokered convention,” says Jack Lindley, chairman of the Vermont GOP. Mitt Romney is “more than halfway there” in terms of delegates, he argues. “I don’t know where the other guys’ Kool-Aid is coming from.”
Slightly more circumspect, Jim Bopp, national committeeman for Indiana, tells NRO that a brokered convention is “extremely unlikely.”
“To me it’s obvious that Mitt Romney has a substantial lead,” says Joe Trillo, national committeeman for Rhode Island. “And I think as it gets closer to the convention the other candidates should certainly step aside.”
There’s not much sympathy for ex–speaker of the House Newt Gingrich among these members. “I don’t understand where the heck Newt is,” says Pat Longo, national committeewoman for Connecticut. “One day he says Romney is the likely nominee; today I read that he wants his positions in the platform. I’ve served on a platform committee twice, and, quite frankly, I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of changes.”
“Gingrich doesn’t have a chance; he’s just being Gingrich,” says Jody Dow, national committeewoman for Massachusetts.
It’s worth noting that all of the foregoing Republicans are Romney supporters.
“I think Newt has gotten into the Don Quixote mode,” says Bob Bennett, national committeeman for Ohio. “I think he’s tilting at windmills.”
Not everybody is convinced the race is over. “All three candidates are a long way from 1,144 delegates,” says Peggy Lambert, national committeewoman for Tennessee. Nonetheless, she adds that those candidates who are “so far behind that they don’t really have a chance, I think they should drop out. But I’d like to keep Newt Gingrich’s pugnaciousness in there.”
Sandy Boehler, national committeewoman for North Dakota, is similarly torn over the pros and cons of a brokered convention. “I’ve kind of been looking forward to the excitement,” she admits. “It just brings the adrenaline out.”
“The president gets ink every day whether he likes it or not, so we are in a position to compete because there’s news — there’s something going on,” says Mark Zaccaria, chairman of the Rhode Island GOP. Zaccaria, however, thinks Romney will win the nomination before the first ballot is cast.
Because the RNC has been accumulating a war chest to use in the general election, “I don’t think a brokered convention would be detrimental to the candidate,” says Phyllis Woods, national committeewoman for New Hampshire.
Priscilla Rakestraw, national committeewoman for Delaware, agrees — to a certain extent. “A brokered convention is an advantage probably only to the viewing public,” she says, “and perhaps to the point that it adds additional excitement and electricity to the convention.”
Although she believes Romney will ultimately win, Rakestraw adds that she’s concerned with the tone the other candidates have taken recently. “I think from time to time they’ve forgotten who they’re running against. They’re not running against their fellow Republican; they’re running against President Obama.”
“I’m an agnostic on whether a contested convention would be a good thing or a bad thing,” says John Ryder, national committeeman for Tennessee. “The idea of the delegates elected by primary voters throughout the country making actual decisions is not a bad thing — in terms of small-r republican principles. On the other hand, the convention finishes on August 30, and early voting starts in many states 30 days after that. I think our candidate’s going to need more time to lay out the case against Barack Obama.”
Solomon Yue, national committeeman for Oregon, thinks the chances for a contested convention are slim, and for evidence he cites the lack of lobbying of RNC members by the candidates. “In 2008, I helped to organize RNC members for Mitt Romney, and we had 87 supporters,” he says. “Nothing is happening this year.” The reason, he suspects, is that the Romney campaign is confident it can win the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination without a “buffer” of super delegates.
For now, the prospect of a contested convention remains mere speculation, albeit speculation that brings a gleam to the eyes of some conservatives.
— Brian Bolduc is an editorial associate for National Review.