Getting it wrong

This is the kind of thing which happens when you don’t have your ear to the ground: brilliant planning, poor execution.

I was sort of glad to see that John Tate, president of the Campaign for Liberty, took the time to explain some of what he saw as the effects of the RNC rules changes made last summer. (It’s a very lengthy diatribe, so I chose to link to it rather than reprint it all. Some of those in my audience probably received their own copy.)

However, I will bring up one passage from the message. See if you can spot the error:

Now, Virginia RNC Committeeman Morton Blackwell – who led the fight against implementation of the new rules in Tampa – will be introducing a resolution to reverse them.

That is why I need you to contact your Republican National Committee representatives IMMEDIATELY to urge them to support Blackwell’s repeal effort.

You are represented at the RNC by the State Party Chairman, a National Committeeman, and a National Committeewoman from your state.

It requires a 75% vote of all RNC members to overturn these rules, so your action could not be more critical.

As you’ll see, I’ve included their contact information for you below.

National Committeeman Louis Pope: 301-776-1988 louismpope (at)

National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose: 410-323-6698 nicolee (at)

State Chairman Alex Mooney: 301-874-5649 amooney (at)

Who’s this Alex Mooney guy? Didn’t he move to West Virginia?

Obviously Tate was using an outdated list to compile the information, but he also makes an interesting observation: it doesn’t really matter who is on the Standing Rules Committee if all 168 vote on the changes. Obviously there are only 43 sticks in the mud who can stop it, given the RNC’s extremely steep 3/4 threshold, but our job is to beseech the three representing Maryland to vote the correct way. Certainly we would prefer Nicolee Ambrose be the one who represents the state on the Standing Rules Committee, but Diana Waterman can help or hurt her cause with her vote.

Now I don’t have Diana’s phone number, but the e-mail listed at the state website is simply chairman (at)

Tate’s secondary point is that the RNC wants to move away from the caucus system used in some states, where insurgent candidates with grassroots support like Ron Paul did best, to what would eventually be a regional primary system. Tate makes the point that those candidates with the most money and favorable coverage (i.e. the “establishment”) would gain an advantage over those who may be supported by the grassroots.

Yet the facts don’t necessarily bear this out. Certainly Ron Paul had his share of success in the small states which run strictly on a caucus basis, but Rick Santorum won a number of state primaries through a grassroots network of those more concerned with social issues. He never had the monetary backing of Mitt Romney but did well enough to outlast most of the remaining candidates. I could see Ron Paul’s strategy of using his supporters to take enough states to place his name into nomination, but it never came to pass.

Still, Romney won, doing best in states where there were “open” primaries or where the media markets were most expensive. For the second cycle in a row – and arguably since the days of Reagan – we Republicans were saddled with a candidate who wasn’t palatable to various factions of the pro-liberty movement. (Remember, Reagan campaigned on items like eliminating the Department of Education. It’s obviously still around and no GOP nominee has made that promise since.)

Here’s where I disagree with Tate, though. Why not take this opportunity to reform the broken nominating system and make it shorter, install a quick series of regional primaries during the late spring/early summer of the election year which would only require a few weeks of sacrifice for the grassroots people to get out the word for their candidate, and allow those who earned their convention posts at the state level to be seated no matter who they support instead of insisting on binding winner-take-all primaries? After all, it’s a nomination and not a coronation, and if it takes more than one ballot to select a nominee, so be it. From what I make of it, the Blackwell resolution reverses the changes made by Ben Ginsberg and restores the national party to the rules originally adopted for the next cycle. But we can do so much more with this opportunity and can set these changes in stone at a time well in advance of the nominating process.

If they are going to tinker with the rules at this point, why not get them right and maximize the grassroots participation?

Update: The subsequent reminder e-mail now has the right information.