Democrats took their first official steps Saturday to reduce the power of unpledged delegates in presidential primaries, with the Democratic National Committee voting to “revise the role and reduce the perceived influence” of superdelegates before the next election. That vote, which is likely to reduce the number of superdelegates by at least half, came after 21 months of debate that began at the party’s 2016 convention in Philadelphia. Saturday’s discussion found a party determined to move past the 2016 primaries between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), in large part by reducing the power of the party’s establishment to pick a nominee. “These are changes that I’m confident that people all over this country want to see,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the party’s deputy chairman and one of few Democratic members of Congress who backed Sanders for president. “I’m prepared to tell you that as a member of Congress, I don’t need more power than anybody else.”
Claims that Democratic Party leaders conspired to squash the presidential primary campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders have not only led to a party shake-up but have sparked class-action litigation. A trove of hacked party emails posted by WikiLeaks show that Democratic National Committee officials had worked to undermine the underdog campaign of Mr. Sanders. Weeks before the firestorm erupted, culminating in the resignation of party chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a group of plaintiffs brought a lawsuit in federal court alleging that DNC “actively concealed its bias” from its donors and Democrats backing Mr. Sanders. The plaintiffs, about 150 of whom are identified in the lawsuit, are mostly Sanders supporters and include a number of DNC donors.
The Republican officials trying to keep the drama-filled GOP convention on track just can’t catch a break. After powering through the delegate vote count that made Donald Trump the official GOP nominee with relatively little disruption from the Never Trump crowd, the proceedings of Tuesday evening’s convention programming were briefly interrupted because the Alaska delegation request a recount of its votes. “We were never told that you were going to miscount our votes tonight,” a representative from the delegation said from the stage’s microphone, according to The Atlantic. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), the chair of the convention, asked the delegate if he was requesting a recount, which the delegate confirmed he was.
Virginia: Judge strikes down primary law challenged by anti-Trump convention delegate | Richmond Times-Dispatch
A federal judge struck down an obscure element of Virginia’s presidential primary laws Monday, handing a symbolic victory to a Republican National Convention delegate who has refused to support Donald Trump. U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne permanently barred Virginia from enforcing a law that requires a winner-take-all system in which the first-place finisher of the GOP primary would technically be entitled to all 49 of the state’s delegates. The statute conflicts with the Republican Party’s primary rules, which allocate Virginia’s delegates proportionally based on the primary results. Carroll “Beau” Correll, a Winchester attorney who supported Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, argued that the state law violates his constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of association by requiring him and all other delegates to vote for Trump on the convention’s first ballot.
Virginia: Anti-Trump lawsuit may lead judge to strike down law on presidential convention voting | Richmond Times-Dispatch
A little-known Virginia law that dictates how the state’s delegates must vote at presidential nominating conventions could be struck down by a federal judge next week. After roughly six hours of oral argument Thursday, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne seemed poised to issue a narrow opinion in a case brought by a Virginia delegate to the Republican National Convention seeking legal immunity for his plan to vote against Donald Trump. Payne seemed to accept one element of the argument brought by Carroll “Beau” Correll, a Winchester attorney who supported Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the primary. In a lawsuit filed last month, Correll said the state cannot enforce an election law that could, in theory, lead to criminal prosecutions for delegates who don’t cast their vote for Trump on the first ballot despite their obligations under party rules.
Last-ditch attempts by a group of Republican delegates seeking to stop Donald Trump from becoming the GOP presidential nominee are quickly fading — and now their fight is facing a federal legal challenge. At issue is whether delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland are bound to vote for the results of state caucuses and primaries. A group that claims the support of hundreds of convention delegates has been pushing to change Republican presidential nomination rules so that delegates can “vote their conscience” — reviving a long-simmering debate led by GOP purists who believe that only convention delegates — not the millions of voters who participated in the primary process — can ultimately pick a presidential nominee.
A federal judge has ordered a hearing for July 7 in a lawsuit brought by a Virginia Republican who says a state law requiring him to vote for Donald Trump is unconstitutional. It’s the latest legal front in efforts to stop Trump at the Republican Convention. Federal District Court Judge Robert Payne of Richmond is moving quickly, ordering lawyers on both sides to respond to questions he raised Tuesday. While the pace is driven partly by the July 18 opening of the Republican National Convention, it also suggests that the judge is receptive to the claim. The lawsuit was filed by Carroll Correll, a northern Virginia Republican chosen as a delegate to the national convention, on behalf of himself and the state’s other Republican delegates. He believes that “Donald Trump is unfit to serve as President of the United States” and that voting for Trump would violate his conscience, according to court filings.
Carroll Correll Jr., a Winchester attorney and Republican delegate to the party’s national convention next month, has filed a federal lawsuit asking for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction allowing him to avoid casting a vote for Donald Trump. “Correll believes that Donald Trump is unfit to serve as president of the United States and that voting for Donald Trump would therefore violate Correll’s conscience,” according to the lawsuit filed Friday. “Accordingly, Correll will not vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot, or any other ballot, at the national convention. He will cast his vote on the first ballot, and on any additional ballots, for a candidate whom he believes is fit to serve as president.”
Editorials: Awarding presidential delegates by congressional district is unfair | Derek T. Muller/The Sacramento Bee
This year’s presidential primaries have exposed problems in the nomination process, and they’re highlighted by California’s uneven method of awarding its delegates. Most delegates in Tuesday’s primaries will be awarded to the candidates who win the most votes in each of California’s 53 congressional districts. While that system is designed to ensure that a candidate has widespread support and that delegates come from across the state, it produces bizarre results in districts dominated by one party or the other. The Republican Party will award three delegates per district. The Democratic Party gives districts between four and nine delegates, based on total population, plus extra delegates to districts with more Democratic voters. The 13th District in San Francisco has about 260,000 registered Democrats and gets eight delegates, or one delegate per 32,500 voters. But there are just 86,000 registered Democrats in the 42nd and 50th districts, and they each will award five delegates, or one delegate per 17,200 voters. It doesn’t take a math degree to recognize that Democrats in San Francisco will have less power than Democrats elsewhere in the state.
The Kentucky Democratic Party on Wednesday was waiting on final numbers from the Tuesday’s presidential primary before doling out delegates to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Daniel Lowry, a spokesman for the party, said Democrats had hoped to get the numbers by Wednesday afternoon but that the numbers may not be finalized until sometime Thursday. He…
New Jersey: Bernie Sanders decoded quirky New Jersey ballot system in quest for delegates | USA Today
Alex Clark never aspired to become a sheriff. But the 28-year-old lab manager entered the sheriff’s race in Somerset County, N.J., not to get the job but to help his favorite presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, get a prominent spot on the state’s Democratic primary ballot. “I’m not running a campaign, or raising any money or spending any money,” Clark said. “I don’t expect to win.” In New Jersey, county clerks often determine ballot positions by randomly drawing county candidates’ names from a well-shaken wooden box. Sanders’ campaign says those drawings can favor establishment and other candidates who are aligned — or “bracketed” — with the county candidates.
It’s been one week since Donald Trump assumed the mantle of presumptive Republican nominee. Over the last seven days, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has called for unity in the party, and has even convinced a number of prominent Republicans who’d voiced reservations about Trump to fall in line behind the party’s nominee. Still, there are some Trump supporters who fear shadowy party bosses are plotting to steal the nomination out from under him at the convention in July. On Tuesday, Trump operative Roger Stone warned the stealth effort is already underway. “A motion to unbind all delegates, along with many other underhanded strategies, is being discussed by the elite of the Republican legal establishment, with the permission (if under not the instruction) of Speaker Paul Ryan,” Stone wrote. And while there may be an appetite among the surviving #NeverTrump-ers on Twitter and in other corners of the Internet to block Trump’s nomination, there isn’t much evidence of the kind of vast conspiracy to which Stone refers. There’s really only one prominent member of the RNC publicly advocating for a change to the party’s rules: a pool-supply salesman from North Dakota named Curly Haugland.
New Hampshire: Republican party halts controversial vote meant to limit Trump’s delegate support | The Guardian
An attempt by the New Hampshire Republican party to limit Donald Trump’s influence in a potential contested convention was halted Monday, when the state chair canceled a controversial online vote for positions on crucial committees just minutes after the voting deadline. In an email obtained by the Guardian, party chair Jennifer Horn said that although all 23 of the state’s delegates to the Republican National Convention participated in the vote, she was canceling it “in the interest of full transparency”. Instead, she summoned a delegates-only meeting in Concord on Friday, in which those unable to attend could participate via conference call. Initially, in an email sent out Saturday night, the state party’s executive director proposed a slate for the eight slots on convention committees reserved for New Hampshire delegates at the Republican gathering in Cleveland in July. The proposed slate included two supporters apiece of John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz and one supporter of Marco Rubio. The eighth slot was left vacant.
National: Republican says delegate vote-buying and gifts are part of ‘the free market of politics’ | ABC
“Cash is on the table,” veteran Republican Marti Halverson says. “I don’t know why you’re so shocked.” This is not the response I was expecting — my mouth gaping. I had just finished asking Wyoming National committeewoman Mrs Halverson about the “wooing” of delegates to switch their vote in this very-likely-to-be-contested upcoming Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Ms Halverson is also opposed to any rule that would stop delegates accepting gifts. “This is a great country,” she said. “We give presents to our friends. No, I would not vote for a rule that said candidates cannot ‘woo’ delegates. I wouldn’t do that. It’s not the American way.” But what is the difference between wooing someone and buying their vote without cash? “Cash is on the table,” she replied. “Absolutely. It is going around that delegates are going to be offered free trips to Cleveland. Not Wyoming delegates, we haven’t heard that. But it is on the table. It is not illegal.”
National: Republicans Reject Effort to Alter Rules on Allowing New Candidate at Convention | The New York Times
A Republican National Committee panel on Thursday overwhelmingly rejected an effort to make preliminary changes to the rules governing the party’s convention this summer, batting away a move to make it more difficult for party leaders to draft a “white knight” candidate into the race. On a voice vote, the R.N.C.’s rules committee turned back a bid to switch the rules of the convention from those used by the House of Representatives to Robert’s Rules of Order. The committee member who proposed the change, Solomon Yue of Oregon, said in the days leading up to the party’s spring meeting here that he wanted to alter the rules to prevent the establishment-aligned Republicans running the convention from being able to place in nomination the name of a candidate not already in the race. The House Rules can be interpreted as allowing the chairman of the convention, Speaker Paul D. Ryan, to reopen presidential nominations, while Robert’s Rule would require a majority vote of the conservative-leaning delegates to do so.
Like British parliamentary elections in the 18th century, the Republican presidential primary in 2016 may be decided in rotten boroughs. While the rotten boroughs in Georgian England were the long since abandoned sites of medieval towns where aristocratic landowners could handpick members of parliament, the Republican rotten boroughs are vibrant, heavily populated urban areas in places like New York and Los Angeles. They just don’t have very many registered Republicans. The result of gerrymandered redistricting processes and the deep alienation of minority communities from the Republican party is that there are many congressional districts where registered Republicans are almost as rare as unicorns. Republican delegate apportionment rules in many states, however, mean that every congressional district receives three delegates to the convention, regardless of how many GOP voters live there. In contrast, the Democratic party’s formula for delegates is influenced by the number of votes cast for their presidential nominee in the past few elections in each district. Instead of seeking to represent every voter equally, this gives more weight to committed Democratic voters. And it means the ratio of voters to delegates is less unbalanced than it might be otherwise.
National: G.O.P. Chief Discourages Rule Changes That Seem to Block Donald Trump | The New York Times
The chairman of the Republican National Committee has privately urged members of the party’s rules committee not to make changes to the guidelines governing the presidential nominating process, an effort to avoid the appearance that the party is seeking to block Donald J. Trump from becoming its nominee. The chairman, Reince Priebus, whom associates describe as increasingly frustrated by Mr. Trump’s criticism of the delegate-selection process, sent a text message last week to multiple rules committee members strongly suggesting that they not alter the convention rules when the party convenes next week for its spring meeting in Florida, according to two who received the message. Separately, a group of influential rules committee members held a conference call Thursday to prepare for the meeting and reached a consensus that they would derail any attempt at the gathering to make changes to the how the convention is conducted, according to a committee member on the call. “We’re not going to do anything with the rules next week,” said Rob Gleason, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party and a longtime member of the rules committee. “There’s no point because new rules will be written at the convention.”
Donald Trump has complained that the Republican primary process is a “rigged, disgusting, dirty system” that deprives people of the chance to vote for their preferred presidential candidate. He accuses the Republican Party of stealing delegates from him. If he thinks this system is complex, Trump should look to the GOP’s past primary elections. Now, those were complicated! As recently as 2012, for example, some states used a three-step voting process that often yielded two opposing outcomes. But the Republican National Committee worked with state parties to streamline and standardize the 2016 election to minimize confusing results. Some complexity remains because each of the 50 states can set its own rules. As the founding fathers devised, U.S. presidential elections are not national races. Rather, they occur state by state, which inevitably creates some complexity. But there are clear and now simpler rules. Candidates just need to read them.
Bernie Sanders won one more delegate in Colorado than first projected after the Colorado Democratic Party admitted this week that it misreported the March 1 caucus results from 10 precinct locations. The party discovered the discrepancy a week after the caucus but did not correct the public record. Hillary Clinton’s campaign discussed the error with state party officials last week, but the Sanders campaign apparently didn’t realize the issue until being informed Monday evening by The Denver Post. The mistake is a minor shift with major implications. The new projection now shows the Vermont senator winning 39 delegates in Colorado, compared to 27 for Clinton.
Trump’s announcement that he no longer stands by a pledge to support the GOP has thrown his hold on South Carolina’s 50 delegates in doubt. The Palmetto State was one of several that required candidates to pledge their loyalty to the party’s eventual nominee in order to secure a slot on the primary ballot. Though Trump won all of the state’s delegates in the Feb. 20 primary, anti-Trump forces are plotting to contest their binding to Trump because of his threat on the pledge Tuesday. The loyalty pledge is nothing new in South Carolina, where it has been required for decades, but took on new focus in light of Trump’s public musings about a third-party run or withdrawing his support from the eventual nominee if he is stopped at a contested convention.
Political observers have wondered for months whether Donald Trump’s unconventional, “political outsider” campaign would put him at a disadvantage if the Republican presidential race were to come down to the wire. Now, a fight stemming from the complicated process of selecting convention delegates suggests it has. The Trump campaign is currently in a tizzy over a development regarding Louisiana’s delegation to the Republican National Convention. While Trump narrowly defeated Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the state’s primary earlier this month, a recent Wall Street Journal report suggested that Cruz will head to Cleveland with more Louisiana delegates than the real estate mogul, prompting Trump to accuse Cruz of trying to “steal” delegates. “It’s the first bit of concrete evidence that we’ve got that the Cruz campaign is organized and that the Trump campaign is playing catch-up,” said Josh Putnam, a lecturer at the University of Georgia who tracks delegate rules at the blog FrontloadingHQ. “This process is going to go on to other states where similar battles are going to be fought under different state party rules.”
When South Dakota’s Republican activists convened in Pierre to pick their delegates to the Republican National Convention, they got an unexpected visitor. Merle Madrid, senior aide to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, had flown in from Columbus to make an appeal: If the convention fails to elect front-runner Donald Trump on the first ballot, consider Kasich on the second — even if the state’s Republican voters sent them there to back Trump or Ted Cruz. Madrid was polite and earnest, but, according to interviews with 17 of the state’s 29 delegates, he came up empty. “Kasich will not get my vote no matter what he does. That ain’t gonna happen,” said delegate Allen Unruh, a Sioux Falls chiropractor and tea party activist.