There’s a lot at stake at the RNC’s rules committee meeting this week during the party’s spring retreat in Florida—and a lot of misinformation out there as well. Most of it revolves around a proposal by longtime RNC member Solomon Yue of Oregon to change the rules of order at the upcoming national convention to Robert’s Rules—This would replace the rules of the House of Representatives that have governed recent GOP conventions. Yue insists that his proposed modifications would be particularly designed to use a modified Robert’s rules that would not allow unrelated motions from the floor and other elements that could disrupt the convention. Meanwhile, Reince Priebus and his allies insist that the process is fine as is and that any changes should be tabled until the convention.
Yue (who, I should note, is a personal friend) is a long-time conservative activist who has often walked the delicate balance between being a party official and a grassroots leader. He insists he is not doing this to promote any campaign and has not been in contact with any campaign, but feels that this step is necessary because the party is “in a period of mistrust right now”. Yue told me that the blocking of this change by Reince Priebus and party leadership is “100% about the establishment trying to parachute in with a “white knight” candidate during the convention.” Yue, who has not endorsed a candidate, feels strongly that the nominee should be selected from among the candidates who have run the full campaign and qualified under rule 40(b) to place their name into nomination, namely Cruz and Trump (and Kasich, if, by some miraculous intervention, he could win seven additional states)
While most see Yue’s gambit as likely to fail at the hands of the party establishment, he hopes to raise the profile of the issue among the GOP voters.
“A loss isn’t really a loss and a win isn’t really a win,” Yue said, noting the complex process that would require any change to be ultimately approved by the RNC and the convention rules committee. “ I am not concentrating on the coming vote—I’d rather go after awakening public opinion.” Yue is concerned that convention Chairman Paul Ryan will open the nomination process to candidates who have not qualified under rule 40(b), thus attempting to hand the selection to Kasich or a white knight.
Yue’s fight is particularly notable because it is also being spearheaded by Bruce Ash, chair of the RNC rules committee, and, like Yue, a longtime Priebus ally. “I consider this to be a major breach of trust,” Ash told The Washington Times’ Ralph Hallow about Priebus’ allies’ alleged attempt to use procedural trickery to thwart Yue’s effort. Yue has accused RNC members of character assassination against him and Ash and of whipping against their proposal in secret.
For now, Yue is staying mum about his long-term strategy. “We’re still engaged in warfare, so there’s no need to tip off the opposition.”
More importantly, Yue feels that the nomination process needs to change fundamentally. “The average delegate needs to know their voice is being heard. I’m a 16-year RNC member and I’m being treated like a political enemy they need to destroy. That tells you a lot.”
While the arcana of RNC rules committee meetings would typically cause conservatives’ eyes to glaze over, we need to be paying attention this time. Though there are potentially legitimate reasons to avoid a rules change, the overwrought reaction of the party establishment in response to Yue and Ash suggest that many party leaders are still actively exploring the possibility of an establishment coup at the convention, as I have written about previously at NRO. Conservatives should be closely monitoring these developments, and should make sure that party leaders hear our #NeverCoup message loud and clear.