Every so often, democracy wins.
There will be a Republican presidential primary next June – as usual.
This seemingly routine matter was reconfirmed Tuesday night by state GOP leaders – unanimously in fact.
So, what was the “controversy?”
An overall problem is the state’s tradition of holding its primary in June – long after party nominations for president have been secured. On this one, both Democrats and Republicans are in the same boat.
The next entry into this saga comes from the RNC or Republican National Committee, which has set its 2024 convention for mid-July. With that in mind, the RNC wants all state delegations to be set by May 31 – 45 days in advance of the convention.
That was an obvious predicament for state Republicans, given the fact the New Jersey primary, at which delegates would be selected, would take place next June – a few days after the deadline.
What to do?
One suggestion was to eschew the primary and select the delegates – there will be 49 of them – at a state convention.
That certainly could be done prior to the May 31 deadline. But there was a pretty big downside – delegates would not be picked by the voters – the Republicans’ rank and file.
They would be selected by party insiders.
Sure, they are normally selected by party insiders, but voters at least get the chance to confirm them, or even run themselves.
When this misguided proposal circulated Tuesday afternoon, Republican leaders statewide were in a tizzy.
This is wrong, We can’t do this. What a crazy idea.
That was the sentiment.
It was so widespread that Bob Hugin, the state party chair, had to quickly put together a statement. Here is the gist of it:
“In accordance with recent RNC guidance, we are forced to re-examine our selection process for presidential convention delegates. We are committed to ensuring a process in which all Republican votes are counted and can have an impact on the Republican party’s choice for the nomination of a presidential candidate in 2024.
“Our goal as Republicans is to give every voter a real say in the outcome of every election. At our meeting this evening, the State Committee will discuss how to find a way to comply with the RNC’s internal rules and invigorate Republican voters and provide a way for them to have a meaningful vote in the selection of our presidential candidate.
“The draft document sent to State Committee members was intended to provoke a lively discussion on this topic, which it certainly has. I am confident that the State Committee will discuss all available options and come to the best decision, as Republicans act positively to take back New Jersey from the destructive hands of the Democrats.”
That “lively discussion” ended with a unanimous vote to shelve the state convention idea and retain the power of the primary.
Hugin now will have to get a waiver from the RNC to formalize the state’s convention delegates after the deadline. Common sense suggests that’s not going to be too hard.
After all, would the RNC want no New Jersey delegates at its convention?
In the run-up to this controversy, it was suggested that selecting GOP delegates at a convention may have helped Chris Christie. That seems a bit off, given the fact Donald Trump remains the most popular Republican presidential candidate out there.
A greater issue that this episode raised is a perennial one.
Why does New Jersey hold its presidential primary so late in the game?
It remained the question on the mind of BurlCo GOP Chairman Sean Earlen:
“The fact that the RNC wants to disenfranchise the votes of millions of Republicans just because our state happens to have its Primary Election scheduled in June is unconscionable. We are speaking loudly and clearly in one voice, saying we will not allow the RNC to silence our voters’ voices in next year’s presidential Primary. We WILL have a say in our party’s next nominee.”