What Did Pass the RNC
Henry Barbour Smoke Screen Amendment
An amendment to the language of rule 16 (a) 2. The argument in favor of the amendment is that it was necessary in order to ease fears that future presidential candidates may have the ability to exercise veto power over elected delegates. Recall, however, that the RNC Rules Committee had struck the “presidential veto powers” aspect before the 2012 rules went to a final vote before the delegation back in Tampa, making this amendment unnecessary. The passed amendment also includes a loophole to the presidential veto powers prohibition, stating that the presidential candidate may exercise veto-power over the delegates in circumstances where individual states’ rules allow for it.
What Did Not Pass the RNC
Jeff Johnson Amendment Striking 16 (a) 1
Rule 16 (a) 1, one of the 2012 power-grabs, effectively undermines the purpose of the caucus process. The rule binds RNC delegates to the results of the state’s presidential straw poll or preference poll, essentially turning the caucus states into primary states, and making the campaign process much more expensive for candidates working to win the vote within those states. The Johnson Amendment would have completely eradicated this rule, giving the power back to the most active grassroots participants of the early-voting caucus states. While the Johnson amendment passed the rules committee with great support (by a vote of 39 to 20), the amendment was sent to the general session for a final vote, where it failed before the entire body of the RNC by a vote of 107 – 49.
After the adjournment of the general session, an email was sent to the RNC committee members (on behalf of Reince Priebus) recapping the vote results. This email portrayed the failure of the Johnson Amendment as a positive, stating that the amendment would have allowed for “beauty pageant” presidential nominations. That Reince Priebus considers the caucus process to be a beauty pageant is an insult to the states who have a history and tradition of trusting their most active and informed grassroots activists to exercise personal discretion in representing their state.
Morton Blackwell Amendment
Morton Blackwell’s amendment called for the RNC rules 1-11 & 13-25 to revert back to their 2008 form. The amendment failure was especially devastating to the grassroots because of the fact that two rules committee members were the deciding factor in killing this amendment in committee, rather than bringing the amendment forward for discussion before the entire body of the RNC. The amendment failed by a rules committee vote of 25 – 28.
Some note-worthy aspects of the Blackwell Amendment failure:
Committee member Nicolee Ambrose was appointed to be MD’s representative to the rules committee, but in late March she learned that she had been replaced by Louis Pope, a strong proponent for the power grab rule changes. It is reasonable to think that there was some level of maneuvering from those with top-down interests involved in that decision.
- NC committee member Ada Fisher voted against the Blackwell Amendment, stating that she was confused about the situation, not informed enough to make such a decision pertaining to the rules, and wanted to take more time later on to go over the rules individually. However, she also stated that she had received over 200 emails relaying to her the importance of voting in favor of the Blackwell amendment. Dr. Fisher’s vote came as a surprise to many North Carolina delegates who were under the impression that she would be voting in favor of the amendment, and were even petitioning the committee woman to take measures further than what was entailed in the Blackwell Amendment. Her “no” vote also countered a resolution passed by the North Carolina Republican Executive Committee, calling upon NC committee members to take action to revert back to 2008 rules.
These two votes killed the amendment on the spot. There is also an argument to be made that NC’s Dr. Fisher was the sole deciding factor on the Blackwell amendment failure, for had she stood for the grassroots of her state and made a statement in support of Blackwell’s amendment, rather than opposing the amendment, perhaps even more would have joined the right side.