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Why Florida is winner-take-all and why it might not be eventually

 

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has said on MSNBC on various occasions that Florida's GOP primary is not winner-take-all.

That's not the case. Florida is winner-take-all. But it is true that Florida might potentially wind up being proportional. But a lot has to happen for that to be the case.

Here's why there is some confusion -- this is all based on the current RNC's interpretation of the rules (more on that below).

The only way how delegates are allocated changes is if an aggrieved Florida resident challenges the interpretation and the RNC's contest committee rules in that party's favor.

So, (1) Right now it's winner take all, (2) It's potentially possible that at some point the way the delegates will be allocated is overturned.

But again: (1) That's not the CURRENT rule, and (2) If there was a change, it wouldn't happen until the August convention.

"The Florida state party submitted a plan to the RNC that included Winner Take All delegate allocation," an RNC official told First Read "They lost 50 percent of their delegates because they submitted a WTA plan before the stated April 1st rule date. The only way for Florida's delegate allocation to change from winner take all at this point is for a resident of Florida to bring a contest to the RNC meeting in Tampa this summer and the contest committee will review it. Just because a contest is brought to the committee doesn't mean the committee will rule in their favor."

To better understand this, let's get into the details:

Florida violated two clauses within one rule (Rule 15b).

1. Going too early (before March 6), and
2. Submitting a plan for a winner-take-all contest even though no state that goes before April 1 should be winner-take-all.

The reason Florida was allowed to continue to have a winner-take-all contest is, because, according to the RNC's interpretation of the enforcement rule (16a), Florida only violated one rule (two clauses within the same rule, but still one rule). 16a talks about what happens if a state violates 15b, not two portions of 15b, according to their interpretation.

"It's a technicality, but, technically, it's one rule they broke -- not two separate ones," another RNC official said.

Again, it's POSSIBLE that the contest committee takes up a challenge, and it's possible that they would then revert to making Florida's allocation proportional. But it is incorrect to say that "currently" the rule IS proportional. It is winner take all.

RULE NO. 15
Election, Selection, Allocation, or Binding of
Delegates and Alternate Delegates

(b) Timing.* (Revised language was adopted
by the Republican National Committee on August 6,
2010)

(1) No primary, caucus, or
convention to elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates to
the national convention shall occur prior to the first
Tuesday in March in the year in which a national
convention is held. Except Iowa, New Hampshire,
South Carolina, and Nevada may begin their processes
at any time on or after February 1 in the year in which a
national convention is held and shall not be subject to
the provisions of paragraph (b)(2) of this rule.

(2) Any presidential primary,
caucus, convention, or other meeting held for the
purpose of selecting delegates to the national
convention which occurs prior to the first day of April
in the year in which the national convention is held,
shall provide for the allocation of delegates on a
proportional basis.

RULE NO. 16
Enforcement of Rules
(a) If any state or state Republican Party
violates The Rules of the Republican Party relating to
the timing of the election or selection process with the
result that any delegate from that state to the national
convention is bound by statute or rule to vote for a
presidential nominee selected or determined before the
first day of the month in which that state is authorized
by Rule No. 15(b) to vote for a presidential candidate
and/or elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates or
alternate delegates to the national convention, the
number of delegates to the national convention from
that state shall be reduced by fifty percent (50%), and
the corresponding alternate delegates also shall be
reduced by the same percentage. Any sum presenting a
fraction shall be increased to the next whole number.
No delegation shall be reduced to less than two (2)
delegates and a corresponding number of alternates.