In a move that grassroots activists from the Ron Paul world were warning me about since the Tampa convention in 2012 when the Party decided that states would have to allocate delegates based on popular vote and give winning candidates veto power over specific delegates, the Republican Party is trying to tighten up its primary process in ways intended (in some respects at least) to make sure no one can muck up the official narrative.
A handful of Republican Party officials is quietly advancing a new batch of rules aimed at streamlining a chaotic presidential nominating process that many party insiders viewed as damaging to the their campaign for the White House in 2012….
In a series of closed-door meetings since August, handpicked members of the Republican National Committee have been meeting with party Chairman Reince Priebus in Washington to hash out details of a sweeping plan to condense the nominating calendar, severely punish primary and caucus states that upend the agreed-upon voting order and potentially move the party's national convention to earlier in the summer….
It has been an insider's gambit, designed to limit the chance for the non-anointed "front runner" to stand out:
The 17-member special rules subcommittee tasked with reforming the nominating process, appointed with little fanfare at the RNC's summer meeting in Boston….
Priebus and other top party figures have made no secret of their desire to scale back the number of debates, which offered little-known candidates such as Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain a chance to shine but forced Mitt Romney, the eventual nominee, to publicly stake out a number of conservative positions that came back to haunt him in the general election.
One proposal being weighed by the RNC members would involve sanctioning a small handful of debates while penalizing candidates who participate in any nonsanctioned GOP debate by stripping them of one-third of their delegates to the national convention.
The official line is that all factions of the party are represented in this committee. Some of the other proposed changes do promise to at least slow down complete victory for front-runners (UPDATE: or, as commenter CE points out, possibly hobble any non-establishment candidate who catches fire in Iowa and New Hampshire before the anointed win the big states):
— Any state holding a primary or caucus during the first two weeks of March must award its delegates proportionally, rather than winner-take-all.
The measure is designed to prevent a candidate from catching fire in the early states and then riding a burst of momentum to winner-take-all victories in expensive, delegate-rich states such as Florida or Texas. The early March window would give underfunded, insurgent candidates a chance to prove their mettle.
"It will allow a grassroots candidate to stay in the race and try to raise money and score some wins," said Smack. "If they can't score wins by that time, they probably need to pack it in and try again four years later."
— States holding a contest after March 15 can decide to award their delegates however they see fit.