Earlier this week I wrote about an argument North Dakota’s Republican National Committeeman Curly Haugland has been making for some time now. Namely, that the delegates allotted by these state primary votes which have been getting so much attention are not bound to any candidate. They’re “beauty contests,” says Haugland, and mean nothing.
At the national convention, delegates can vote for whoever they want, he argues.
This morning he was on CNBC’s Squawkbox because, with Trump continuing to win one state after another, the reality of a convention fight over the nomination is looming. And Haugland’s argument about the rules might just be the thing that can block him.
“The media has created the perception that the voters choose the nomination,” Haugland said. “That’s the conflict here.”
Former NDGOP chairman Gary Emineth (identified in the chryon as an “unbound delegate” but that can’t be since the NDGOP will pick delegates at their state convention in April) backed Haugland up saying just about anyone could come forward and get the nomination at the convention:
Most delegates bound by their state’s primary or caucus results are only committed on the first ballot. If subsequent ballots are needed, virtually all of the delegates can vote any way they want, said Gary Emineth, another unbound delegate from North Dakota.
“It could introduce Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, or it could be the other candidates that have already been in the race and are now out of the race [such as] Mike Huckabee [or] Rick Santorum. All those people could eventually become candidates on the floor,” Emineth said.
I don’t know whether Emineth or Haugland support Trump or not, but I do know that Haugland making this argument isn’t exactly new to the 2016 cycle. He’s been making it for years.
It’s only really become relevant this cycle because we may very well have a contested convention at the national convention for the first time in a long, long time.
UPDATE: I contacted NDGOP Chairman Kelly Armstrong about Haugland’s comments. “Curly is speaking for himself,” Armstrong told me. “His comments to not represent the views of the NDGOP.”
“At the state level I have been adamant about making sure that the process is something we can be proud of,” Armstrong added. “I think that same rule should apply at the National Convention. If the voters don’t have confidence in the process then we have no chance of beating Hillary Clinton in November.”