The Republican National Committee, in a move designed to box in Donald Trump and prevent him from a third-party run, on Wednesday asked the party’s presidential candidates to sign a loyalty statement vowing not to run as an independent or third-party candidate in the general election. Trump and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus plan to meet Thursday in New York, according to a Trump campaign spokeswoman. Trump has scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference where he could make an announcement about the RNC pledge. All summer, Republican leaders have been trying to prevent Trump, the billionaire businessman who has rocketed to the top of GOP polls, from running as an independent candidate if he does not win the Republican nomination.
Republicans will hold their 2016 national convention more than a month earlier than their 2012 event for one simple reason: money. Two years ago, Mitt Romney raised $1 billion but found himself out of cash that August due to campaign finance laws that essentially force candidates to divide their spending between pre-and-post convention accounts. Moving the convention up, the GOP reasons, will help make those rules a non-issue. The Republican National Committee announced Tuesday that Cleveland would host its 2016 convention — and that the party was aiming for a late June or early July event. The early summer timing is a sharp break with recent history — when both parties have traditionally held their conventions in late August or early September. The GOP hasn’t held a July convention since 1980 and it hasn’t held a June convention since 1948.
Editorials: GOP’s voter fraud humiliation: Turns out Wisconsin’s worst case is a Republican | Joan Walsh/Salon
It’s always seemed strange that Wisconsin Republicans like Reince Priebus and Scott Walker would insult their own state by claiming that it has a problem with voter fraud and needs tougher laws to prevent it. Wisconsin has traditionally been known for an uncommonly clean political culture (until recently, anyway), and I’ve never quite understood why conservatives would want to impugn it. Can you say “projection”? Now we learn about the curious case of Robert Monroe, a 50-year-old health executive who is accused of voting a dozen times in 2011 and 2012, including seven times in the recalls of Scott Walker and his GOP ally Alberta Darling. Wisconsin officials say it’s the worst case of multiple voting in memory. Oh, and, did I mention he’s a Republican? Monroe got my attention because he’s from the Milwaukee suburb of Shorewood, where I went to high school. Television coverage of the case focused on Shorewood’s quaint Village Hall, where I registered to vote at 18, and where Monroe allegedly filled out an absentee ballot for his son, who voted in person a few towns away, which helped trigger the investigation. Monroe lives six blocks away from where I grew up.
The Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission on Friday seeking the ability to raise unlimited donations from individuals, the latest attempt by the GOP to reverse a seminal 2002 campaign finance overhaul. In its suit, the party committee argues that it has a First Amendment right to raise the kind of massive contributions that now fuel super PACs and other independent groups. Currently, individuals can only give $32,400 a year to party committees. Overturning that limit would knock out a major plank of the McCain-Feingold Act, which banned parties from accepting soft money. “I believe it is my job as the leader of the Republican Party to do everything in my power to help our candidates and get out our message of economic growth and opportunity,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “The patchwork of limits on political speech undermines the First Amendment and puts high transparency, full-disclosure groups like the RNC on an unequal footing with other political entities. We are asking that political parties be treated equally under the law.”
The chairman of the Republican National Committee said Tuesday that he would like for the Supreme Court to overturn more campaign finance restrictions — including the limit on the amount of money someone can give to an individual or a political party. Last week, in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court struck down the limit on the overall amount people can give to all candidates and parties per election cycle but left in place the limits in individual contributions.
A series of changes aimed at tightening the GOP presidential primary calendar sailed through a vote at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting, giving the party new tools to control its nomination process. The new 2016 rules will make it much harder for states to cut in line in the nomination process and will help Republicans avoid a repeat of a drawn out, bloody primary many believe damaged Mitt Romney’s chances in 2012 of defeating President Obama. After a contentious Thursday hearing on some rules changes, few members joined Virginia Committeeman Morton Blackwell in objecting to the final package — the landslide vote was 153 in favor, with 9 opposing. “I’m really proud of you for this debate,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said following the vote, to a standing ovation from the committee. “This is a historic day for our party, and I thank you all for what you’ve done. … We will all have a much better process in 2016.”
A handful of Republican Party officials is quietly advancing a new batch of rules aimed at streamlining a chaotic presidential nominating process that many party insiders viewed as damaging to the their campaign for the White House in 2012, multiple GOP sources told CNN. In a series of closed-door meetings since August, handpicked members of the Republican National Committee have been meeting with party Chairman Reince Priebus in Washington to hash out details of a sweeping plan to condense the nominating calendar, severely punish primary and caucus states that upend the agreed-upon voting order and potentially move the party’s national convention to earlier in the summer, with late June emerging as the ideal target date. No party convention has been held that early since the steamy summer of 1948, when Republicans nominated Thomas Dewey as their standard bearer in Philadelphia.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Friday he’ll move up the national convention, shorten the primary season and hand-pick debate hosts to improve the chances of a Republican winning the White House in 2016. “This is what we need to do to protect our party,” said Priebus, speaking to Michigan Republicans at the Grand Hotel. Before the dinnertime crowd, Priebus outlined his high profile effort to transform the primary calendar in wake of brutal and protracted primary season in 2012 that ended with a loss for GOP nominee and Michigan native Mitt Romney. Priebus wants to move the national convention from August to June. By choosing the nominee earlier, the candidate can spend general fund campaign dollars against the Democratic opponent well in advance of the November election.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said Monday that he will attempt to replace, by the end of the year, the portion of the Voting Rights Act that was struck down by the Supreme Court. Sensenbrenner’s comments came Monday at an event hosted by the Republican National Committee, commemorating the March on Washington. Sensenbrenner said he wants to fix the law so that it is immune to court challenges.
When the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights act last week, it handed Republicans tough questions with no easy answers over how, and where, to attract voters even GOP leaders say the party needs to stay nationally competitive. The decision caught Republicans between newfound state autonomy that conservatives covet and the law’s popularity among minority, young and poor voters who tend to align with Democrats. It’s those voters that Republicans are eyeing to expand and invigorate the GOP’s core of older, white Americans. National GOP Chairman Reince Priebus began that effort well before the court’s decision by promising, among other initiatives, to hire non-white party activists to engage directly with black and Latino voters. Yet state and national Republicans reacted to the Voting Rights Act decision with a flurry of activity and comments that may not fit neatly into the national party’s vision.
Republicans face tough questions with no easy answers over how, and where, to attract voters even GOP leaders say the party needs to stay nationally competitive when the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights act last week. The decision caught Republicans between newfound state autonomy that conservatives covet and the law’s popularity among minority, young and poor voters who tend to align with Democrats. It’s those voters that Republicans are eyeing to expand and invigorate the GOP’s core of older, white Americans. National GOP Chairman Reince Priebus began that effort well before the court’s decision by promising, among other initiatives, to hire non-white party activists to engage directly with black and Latino voters. Yet state and national Republicans reacted to the Voting Rights Act decision with a flurry of activity and comments that may not fit neatly into the national party’s vision. In Washington, Republicans like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia embraced the nuances of the ruling. The court didn’t actually strike down preclearance, instead tossing rules that determined which jurisdictions got oversight. Congress is free to rewrite those parameters and revive advance review.
A coalition of voter-rights advocates, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Ald. Milele Coggs and community leaders, expressed opposition Tuesday to a proposed Assembly bill that would trim hours for in-person absentee voting. The group also urged city voters to turn out on April 2 and vote yes on an advisory referendum in favor of same-day voter registration. The referendum asks voters: “Should the State of Wisconsin continue to permit citizens to register to vote at the polls on election day?” Barrett and others said Wisconsin has a long and rich tradition of open and accessible voting laws. The Assembly bill threatens that, he and others said.
A Republican-backed plan to change the way certain states allocate electoral votes has fizzled as quickly as it sprung onto the national consciousness. The slate of upcoming 2014 governor’s races is a major reason why that happened. Last month, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus voiced some support for the effort to award electoral votes in a handful of battleground states by congressional district. Since many of those congressional districts lean Republican, the plan, if passed in several swing states, would give future GOP presidential nominees a leg up. But for the Republican governors in these states, endorsing the idea — which Democrats can easily cast as a partisan power grab — would carry immense political risk on the eve of reelection campaigns that already promise to be challenging. So, the governors have mostly distanced themselves from such proposals.
A concerted Republican effort to alter the balance of power in presidential elections by changing the rules for the electoral college is facing significant hurdles — including from some GOP officials in the affected states. All but two states currently award electoral votes under a winner-take-all system. Plans to replace that with a proportional system are under consideration in half a dozen states, including Pennsylvania, Virginia and Michigan. All were presidential battlegrounds that President Obama carried last fall. But their state governments remain under Republican control, and some GOP lawmakers are pushing changes that would make it harder for Democrats to prevail in future contests. It is too early to say whether any of the proposals will become law this year, but the idea has attracted support on the national level. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, reelected to a new term on Friday, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently that the change was something that Republicans in blue states “ought to be looking at.” Democrats say the proposals are merely the latest in a series of GOP efforts to rig the rules of a game they are losing. And at least some Republicans seem to agree.
Republicans in Virginia and a handful of other battleground states are pushing for far-reaching changes to the electoral college in an attempt to thwart recent success by Democrats. In the vast majority of states, the presidential candidate who wins receives all of that state’s electoral votes. The proposed changes would instead apportion electoral votes by congressional district, a setup far more favorable to Republicans. Under such a system in Virginia, for instance, President Barack Obama would have claimed four of the state’s 13 electoral votes in the 2012 election, rather than all of them. Other states considering similar changes include Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which share a common dynamic with Virginia: They went for Obama in the past two elections but are controlled by Republicans at the state level.
Virginia: Redistricting, electoral shuffle, voter ID bills aimed at boosting sagging GOP prospects in Virginia | The Washington Post
Virginia’s not the only electoral battleground with a Republican-ruled legislature where President Barack Obama mopped up last year en route to re-election. But it is the first to act on an ambitious menu of Republican legislation aimed at preventing another Democratic triumph. The result beckons partisan paralysis of the state Senate and a budget stalemate for the second consecutive year and the death of important education and transportation reforms. The long-term consequences, however, are more sobering. First, let’s review. Democrats turned out in huge numbers in Virginia last fall despite the state’s brand new voter identification law, creating waiting lines of four hours or more at some jammed polling places. So this year, Republicans propose even tougher identification standards, including one bill that would compel voters to present photo identification.
Republicans in five states, notably Virginia, have discussed changing the way they award Electoral College votes in presidential races by apportioning them on each congressional district, rather than thestate’s popular vote. The reason: Republican Mitt Romney would have won the presidency despite losing the popular vote in states where the GOP controls the legislatures: Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida. But Florida, the largest swing state, won’t go along with changing the Electoral College if Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford has any say (and he has a major say).
After back-to-back presidential losses, Republicans in key states want to change the rules to make it easier for them to win. From Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, GOP officials who control legislatures in states that supported President Barack Obama are considering changing state laws that give the winner of a state’s popular vote all of its Electoral College votes, too. Instead, these officials want Electoral College votes to be divided proportionally, a move that could transform the way the country elects its president. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus endorsed the idea this week, and other Republican leaders support it, too, suggesting that the effort may be gaining momentum. There are other signs that Republican state legislators, governors and veteran political strategists are seriously considering making the shift as the GOP looks to rebound from presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Electoral College shellacking and the demographic changes that threaten the party’s long-term political prospects.
Michigan: Republican Spokesman: Splitting Up Electoral College Votes Would Prevent Detroit Voters From “Distorting” Results | Slate
In the last few weeks, a small number of Republican legislators — all in states that voted for Barack Obama — have talked about splitting up their electoral votes. When I wrote about this, I got a few comments along the lines of “hey, is this a trend, or are you scaremongering?” No. It’s a trend. Reid Wilson reports that Wisconsin, along with Michigan and Pennsylvania, is home to Republicans who might press their gerrymandered legislative advantage to assign electoral votes by gerrymandered congressional districts. “If you did the calculation, you’d see a massive shift of electoral votes in states that are blue and fully [in] red control,” said one senior Republican taking an active role in pushing the proposal. “There’s no kind of autopsy and outreach that can grab us those electoral votes that quickly.”
Republicans alarmed at the apparent challenges they face in winning the White House are preparing an all-out assault on the Electoral College system in critical states, an initiative that would significantly ease the party’s path to the Oval Office. Senior Republicans say they will try to leverage their party’s majorities in Democratic-leaning states in an effort to end the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes. Instead, bills that will be introduced in several Democratic states would award electoral votes on a proportional basis. Already, two states — Maine and Nebraska — award an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district. The candidate who wins the most votes statewide takes the final two at-large electoral votes. Only once, when President Obama won a congressional district based in Omaha in 2008, has either of those states actually split their vote. But if more reliably blue states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were to award their electoral votes proportionally, Republicans would be able to eat into what has become a deep Democratic advantage.
For a year, the Republican National Committee has portrayed Democrats as the villains when it comes to voter fraud. In a provocative article on CNN’s Web site, the committee’s chairman, Reince Priebus, said, “Democrats know they benefit from election fraud.” The tables have turned, however, and Republicans are now playing defense over the role of a well-paid operative, Nathan Sproul, in a voter registration scandal that emerged in Florida and has spread to other states. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it was reviewing “numerous” claims involving a company that Mr. Sproul runs to determine if a criminal investigation is warranted. Complaints have surfaced in 10 Florida counties, among them allegations that registrations had similar signatures or false addresses, or were filed under the names of dead people. In other cases, party affiliations appeared to have been changed.
If Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) doesn’t become vice president of the United States, he has a backup option: his old House seat. Under Wisconsin law, Ryan can run simultaneously for both offices. The lawmaker hasn’t said anything about his House election, which he is strongly favored to win, but he may not have much of a choice. The law specifically states that once a candidate is nominated, his or her name has to remain on the ballot except in the case of death. But if Ryan does make it to the vice presidential mansion, that election would “void the candidate’s election to any other office,” and a special election would be called, according to the law. And names are already being floated in case that comes to pass.
Mitt Romney’s decision to select Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his vice presidential running mate raises the question of what happens in the Badger State’s 1st District, where Ryan is favored to win reelection in the fall. According to state election law, Ryan would not have to sacrifice his spot on the congressional ballot even though he is also running for vice president. He would appear on the ballot twice. Ryan would appear on the ballot as both a candidate for the House and for vice president. If the Romney-Ryan presidential ticket is not successful, but he wins his congressional race, Ryan can keep his seat. If the national ticket wins the White House and Ryan holds his House seat, a special election would be held to replace him in the House. “If the candidate is elected president or vice president of the United States such election shall void the candidate’s election to any other office. A special election shall be held to fill any office vacated under this subsection,” reads a state statute on multiple nominations.
Backers of voter identification in Mississippi and other states say the laws will eliminate voter fraud–but it may be a solution looking for a problem. Between 2000 and 2010, the country saw only 13 plausible cases of voter fraud, but since 2001 almost 1,000 voter ID laws have passed in 46 states across the country, including Mississippi, reports The Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan group in New York City that focuses on fundamental issues of justice including voter rights. In fact, Indiana, a state that recently introduced a voter ID requirement, went before the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the bill, representatives from the state could not give one instance of voter fraud in their state’s history. The Wall Street Journal reported that though Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach cited 221 cases of voter fraud in his state between 1997 and 2010, only seven brought convictions, but none related to voter fraud. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that Wisconsin was “absolutely riddled with voter fraud,” Mother Jones reports. However, in 2004 the state only found seven total votes that were fraudulent.
The chairman of the Republican National Committee said Wednesday GOP candidates have to perform 1 or 2 percentage points better than they otherwise would to overcome voter fraud — claiming that voter fraud is far more pervasive than what official reports have shown. About 2.1 million votes were cast in the 2010 race for governor, and 1 to 2 percent would equate to 21,000 to 42,000 votes. Some law enforcement officials have raised concerns about isolated incidents of voter fraud, but never suggested it approached a scale like that. “I’m always concerned about voter fraud, you know, being from Kenosha, and quite frankly having lived through seeing some of it happen,” said Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman and former state Republican Party chairman. “Certainly in Milwaukee we have seen some of it and I think it’s been documented. Any notion that’s not the case, it certainly is in Wisconsin. I’m always concerned about it which is why I think we need to do a point or two better than where we think we need to be to overcome it.”
Richard Saks, an attorney who has successfully challenged Wisconsin’s new voter ID law, said Priebus can’t back up that claim. “They have zero, zero evidence to substantiate it,” Saks said. “It’s simply demagoguery to whip up fear.” He noted that a 2008 investigation in Milwaukee County by Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm and Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen resulted in 20 prosecutions, mostly for voting by felons who were not qualified to vote. “The notion there’s any kind of large scale fraud is simply not borne out by the facts,” Saks said. “It’s a scare tactic that’s used … to try to claim that primarily vulnerable people shouldn’t have a full opportunity to vote.”
It wasn’t long after the Justice Department blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law on Friday that Republicans accused the Obama administration of putting the President’s reelection ahead of preventing voter fraud. “Obama’s S.C. voter ID decision shows he’s putting the 2012 election above policy by opposing efforts to protect against cheating and fraud,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus wrote on Twitter, indirectly acknowledging that voter ID laws suppress Democratic voter turnout. “Moreover, from S.C. decision looks like they just want to benefit from cheating and fraud.”
“It is outrageous, and we plan to look at every possible option to get this terrible, clearly political decision overturned so we can protect the integrity of our electoral process and our 10th Amendment rights,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement.
Here’s the problem, though: In-person voter impersonation fraud is an extremely risky and ineffective way to try to steal an election and there’s been no evidence of in-person voter impersonation fraud — the only type of voter fraud that strict voter ID laws could potentially prevent — taking place in South Carolina. But Republicans have taken the position that the laws are necessary. They also strongly reject the suggestion that the laws are racially discriminatory, though South Carolina’s own data showed that non-white voters were 20 percent more likely than white voters to lack the specific type of photo voter ID required under South Carolina’s statute.
South Carolina Republicans will move their primary up to Jan. 21, making them the first domino to fall after Florida moved its date up to Jan. 31 last Friday and pushing the other early-voting states to schedule their dates even earlier in the month.
The state’s move will cost it half its delegates at the Republican National Convention because of Republican National Committee (RNC) rules designed to keep the primary process from interfering with the holiday season. But South Carolina’s response is just the first that ensures this will not happen — Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada all plan to hold their primaries and caucuses before South Carolina’s.
South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly slammed Florida for its move during his announcement of South Carolina’s move. “Forty-nine states played pretty in the sandbox,” he said. “Only one did it wrong.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus repeated his party’s commitment to stronger voter identification laws, saying that the GOP would not give up the fight against voter fraud.
“I think that we need to make it easy to vote, hard to cheat, and I think that that’s a mantra that we ought to shout from the rooftops all over the country as a Party,” Priebus told conservative bloggers on a conference call on Thursday.
Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) Chairman David Norcross said that voter fraud issues were very real, despite complaints from liberals that it is largely a phantom problem. Cross cited several cases where states had found thousands of ineligible votes after elections were already over.