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The GOP’s Primary Problem

Wednesday, July 1, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

I interviewed Michael Steele yesterday, and pressed the GOP Chair on the obvious problem ahead in 2012 when Democrats with nothing better to do will swamp GOP primaries and caucuses with the intention of screwing up the Republican nomination process. Read the transcript of the whole interview here, but this is the key exchange:

HH: But what about, you know, bringing up some closed primaries to compete with Iowa and New Hampshire, say you know, we’re only going to allow you to vote at the same…so that they don’t have the disproportioned impact that they have right now?

MS: Well, we’re looking, we’ve started the review of the 2012 primary process last week. We’re going to have a first set of hearings at our summer meeting in July. And we’re beginning to look right now at all the critical steps that we need to take to protect our primaries, to be competitive, and to allow for a process in which, again, the vote is not hijacked by the Democrats, and you know, as some Republicans feel we get a candidate that we don’t want or deserve or whatever. We want a process that we control, that we have the ultimate say in the outcome in, and not be beholden to the Democrats front-loading with…

HH: Well, who’s going to…how’s that going to work, Chairman Steele? Who’s on that committee? When do they report? Who decides?

MS: Well, that committee, again, was formed largely before I became chairman by two members from each of the regions of the country. Then I made the completing selections, six members who are, excuse me, nine members who are non-RNC members…

HH: Hey, my phone didn’t ring, Michael?

MS: (laughing)

HH: Did I not check my messages?

MS: Look, I need you where you are…

HH: Oh, I can do both.

MS: You can do both?

HH: Yeah, I’m waiting here. That is my committee. I’ve got to be on that, because I’m serious as death on this stuff. They’re going to steal this from us.

MS: Well, let me put it to you this way. When we have our hearing from the public, I’ll make sure you know about it and you come out and get on the record.

HH: I want a vote. I don’t want to be a witness. I’ve been a witness for years. I want a vote, Michael Steele. Count every vote! Count Hugh’s vote!

MS: I hear you, Hugh. I hear you.

My phone still hasn’t rung, and I doubt it will because the last thing the RNC wants is a public process that encourages activists to demand accountability from the party “leadership.”

Chairman Steele has been doing an excellent job when it comes to fundraising, but if the primary system remains broken, the race to retake the White House will give President Obama a headstart the GOP simply cannot afford.

Here’s the list of appointees from the RNC’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele today announced the appointment of Ohio National Committeeman Bob Bennett, Wisconsin National Committeeman Steve King, Florida National Committeeman Paul Senft, former Maryland Secretary of State Mary Kane, former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis, former Office of Personnel Management Director Kay James, former Iowa Republican Party Chairman Brian Kennedy, former White House Spanish media spokesperson Mercy Schlapp, and former New Hampshire Attorney General Tom Rath to the RNC Temporary Delegate Selection Committee.

“I am proud to announce the appointments of this impressive group of people to the RNC Temporary Delegate Selection Committee. They are all exceptionally qualified people and I look forward to working with them in the future,” said Chairman Steele.

The RNC Temporary Delegate Selection Committee serves to review the timing of the election, selection, allocation, or binding of delegate and alternate delegates to the Republican National Convention. In accordance with The Rules of the Republican Party, the RNC Chairman appoints three RNC members and six non-members to the RNC Temporary Delegate Selection Committee, which is already comprised of four elected RNC members.

Some good people and some people I have never heard of –and no one with national name ID. If real reform is going to come to the primary process, a group of senior figures from the heart of the party needs to be given 90 days to come up with a plan, and the states a similar hard deadline to approve of it. Otherwise the GOP will slouch to “more of the same” in 2012, with the result that the DNC and affiliated activist groups will have a huge role in the selection of President Obama’s Republican opponent.

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