Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming will chair the Platform Committee at this summer’s Republican National Convention, and his co-chairs will be Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin and North Carolina congresswoman Virginia Foxx, according to a source familiar with the appointments.
The committee is tasked with putting on paper the policies that Republicans — beginning with presumptive nominee Donald Trump — stand for. Accordingly, the nominee has traditionally been given latitude to choose the chairmen of the four convention committees (Platform, Rules, Credentials, Permanent Organization) even though the official appointments come from the Republican National Committee chairman.
Barrasso, whose appointment was first reported by Politico, is chairman of the Senate GOP Policy Committee. He was one of several members of Republican leadership to meet with Trump in Washington earlier this month.
Though the Platform Committee is responsible for drafting a comprehensive document detailing the party’s stances on every policy imaginable, much of the focus in recent years has centered on social issues — namely whether opposition to same-sex marriage would be codified in the party’s platform.
In that context Barrasso is an interesting, and potentially controversial, choice. Known for his expertise on energy and health-care policy, the Wyoming senator is hardly a culture warrior. In fact, he first ran for U.S. Senate in 1996 as an abortion-rights supporter and lost in the GOP primary. By the time Barrasso was appointed to the Senate in 2007, however, he had backpedaled on abortion, and in the years since has earned 100% ratings from groups such as National Right to Life.
Fallin, meanwhile, disappointed some social conservatives last week by vetoing a bill in Oklahoma that would have made it a felony for doctors to perform abortions in the state. One evangelical leader, requesting anonymity to speak candidly about the Platform Committee leadership, says two prominent activists have already begun voicing their objection to the appointments.
The GOP’s Platform Committee has traditionally been led by a trio of elected officials — a governor, a senator, and a House member — with a rotating responsibility for chairing the group. In 2012, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell served as chairman, and his co-chairs were North Dakota senator John Hoeven and Tennessee congresswoman Marsha Blackburn.