As Nevada prepares to finally select its delegates to the national Republican Party convention in Tampa this August, they get a stern warning: don't you go thinking about Ron Paul.
In a letter delivered Wednesday to [Nevada] GOP Chairman Michael McDonald, the RNC's chief counsel said if Ron Paul delegates are allowed to take too many slots for the national convention, Nevada's entire contingent may not be seated in Tampa.
John R. Phillippe Jr. said that while his letter is not binding, "I believe it is highly likely that any committee with jurisdiction over the matter would find improper any change to the election, selection, allocation, or binding of delegates, thus jeopardizing the seating of Nevada's entire delegation to the National Convention."
Clearly, the RNC fears that mischief at the Sparks convention this weekend could result in Ron Paul delegates taking Mitt Romney slots and then not abiding by GOP rules to vote for the presumptive nominee on the first ballot in Tampa. So they are trying to force McDonald to ensure that actual Romney delegates fill 20 of the 28 national convention slots, thus removing any mystery of who they will vote for.
This could be even more fun on Saturday because — and I may be wrong — I don't think these Paul folks respect authority too much. And now the new chairman, who is close to some of the Paul folks, has to be the enforcer.
The letter in question from the RNC, explaining why they need to nominate Romney delegates as per his 50 percent victory in the February caucus vote:
On April 30, 2012, I provided you with an opinion letter explaining why any action to "un-bind" Nevada's delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention would be impermissible under the national party rules (The Rules of the Republican Party). Specifically, I explained that "[a]ny action taken at the Nevada Republican Convention to alter the method in which delegates are elected, selected, allocated, or bound for the 2012 Republican National Convention from the method described in the [Nevada Republican Party] plan that was timely filed with the Republican National Committee prior to October 1, 2011, in accordance with Rule 15(e)(1), would be in conflict with of The Rules of the Republican Party."
I provide this supplemental letter to emphasize that my opinion applies equally to the binding of delegates and to the allocation of delegates….
In order to effectuate this process and ensure that a delegate or prospective delegate actually supports the presidential candidate he professes to support, an authorized representative of the presidential campaign that the delegate or prospective delegate professes to support should be allowed to confirm whether or not the delegate is an actual supporter. If a prospective delegate's name is certified to the RNC but has not been approved by an authorized representative of the candidate he or she professes to support, grounds for a contest may exist. In any case, to the extent a prospective delegate is purportedly elected in excess of the number of slots allocated to his or her preferred candidate, such delegate will be bound to vote at the national convention for the candidate to whom that delegate was allocated.
As I explained in my last letter, while this opinion is purely advisory and not binding on any committee of the Republican National Committee or of the Republican National Convention, I believe it is highly likely that any committee with jurisdiction over the matter would find improper any change to the election, selection, allocation, or binding of delegates, thus jeopardizing the seating of Nevada's entire delegation to the National Convention.
In the February caucus vote in Nevada, Romney got a bare majority at just above 50 percent, Paul came in third with 19 percent. The indispensable Green Papers site on the rules for Nevada's caucuses, which are indeed supposed to bind delegates proportionally.