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.
But times have changed. The decision of Barack Obama and Romney to forgo election matching funds, along with the explosion of super PACs and political nonprofits, means the old rules on convention timing no longer apply.
“The reasons conventions kept getting pushed closer and closer to Election Day was because candidates always took public money, and they could only spend public money between the convention and the actual election,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in an Tuesday interview with Fox News.
“But so now the candidates don’t take this money and so what’s happening is a candidate can be broke, but they are not able to raise general election money until the convention is held,” he added. “So if you have a candidate that’s broke after a primary in May, that candidate is basically a duck in the pond until you get nominated.”