The Republican Party on Thursday is unveiling a website to educate the media and the public on the rules of contested presidential nominating convention.
The move is the latest concession by GOP officials that the party is close to holding its first contested convention since 1976, when Ronald Reagan challenged President Gerald Ford. Since then, the quadrennial convention has functioned as a made-for-television pep rally to promote the presumptive Republican nominee.
“ConventionFacts.gop is a tool for voters to learn about convention delegates, rules, and how the overall process works in a simple, easy to understand format,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement provided to the Washington Examiner. “Conventions are democracy in action and our Party’s gathering in Cleveland will be an exciting, transparent, and fair process.”
This year, the Cleveland convention could turn into a floor battle for GOP delegates between front-runner Donald Trump, the New York billionaire; Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas; Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, and possibly a dark horse candidate. Unfamiliarity with the process has led to wild speculation about the rules governing the process and rumors that party leaders might work to “steal” the nomination from Republican primary voters.
Priebus has spent considerable time trying to explain that any contested convention would run according to long-established rules. This new website is another part of that effort. Winning the nomination requires winning the vote 1,237 delegates in a vote on the convention floor. Most delegates are bound on the first ballot to the candidate that won the primary in their home state, after which they become free agents.
The Republican Party has met every four years since 1856 to nominate a presidential candidate. Although the modern nomination process has been dominated by voters participating in primaries and caucuses in the states and U.S. territories, candidates are still officially nominated by delegates to the national convention that are elected at the state and local level.
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