Last weekend, Jim Bopp wrote an informative letter supporting the new Republican presidential-nominating rules, in response to a column of mine blasting the new rules. Herein, then, a reply to Bopp’s letter.
First, let it be said that Bopp has done many good things for the conservative movement, and I believe his intentions are good — but I believe him to err in judgment in this case. First, he misreads my original article when he writes: “When he finally gets down to it, Hillyer’s sole objection is moving the convention to before July 18, rather than late August, as in 2012, and having the delegate-selection process completed 45 days before the convention, rather than 35 days as under current rules.” That is not accurate. I merely highlighted those particular changes as being emblematic of how, in my judgment and that of other critics, “everything else in the new rules works in favor of wrapping up the process quickly, rather than letting it play out over time.” My column was not intended as a point-by-point brief against the new rules, but instead as an explanation, based on experience, of why it is a mistake to try to use the rules to force an early end to the nominating process.
For the record, I particularly object to the rule that allows states to use a winner-take-all system of delegate selection as early as March 15, just two weeks after the “open window” for most states to hold contests at all. Basically, what this means is that we’ll see four early states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada) set the table, and then a few more try to get into the act just as March begins — and then the possibility of a grand finale as early as mid March, with whichever candidate has the early momentum able to parlay it into an insurmountable delegate lead by virtue of winning huge blocs of delegates via comparatively small pluralities of the vote.
For those who want an exhaustive examination of all the new rules, and the drawbacks to them, I linked to a six-page letter that Virginia’s national committeeman, Morton Blackwell, wrote to Priebus. I endorse the vast bulk of Blackwell’s reasoning.