RNC Member Claims Nomination Isn't Clinched, Says Delegates Trump Primary Voters

Created: 27 May, 2016
Updated: 17 October, 2022
2 min read

Curly Haugland, the RNC committeeman who made news earlier this year for saying all Republican delegates are unbound and can vote their conscience from the first vote, co-authored a commentary piece on CNBC with policy consultant Sean Parnell furthering the claim that delegates do not have to listen to primary and caucus voters. Despite what the media is saying, they argue, Donald Trump has not clinched anything.

"[I]t will in the end be the delegates to the Republican National Convention, which has protected the right of delegates to vote their consciences since the first convention in 1856, who decide if Trump will be the party's nominee," Haugland and Parnell write.

In March, Haughland sent a letter to his fellow RNC committee members, making the case that current convention rules allow delegates to vote their conscience on all matters, including the party's presidential nominee, at all stages of voting. Party rules in many states bind delegates allocated proportionately or to the candidate with the most votes to at least the first round of voting.

However, Haughland, who is a member of the RNC Rules Committee, says even state party rules don't matter.

"Every delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention is a completely free agent, free to vote for the candidate of their choice on every ballot at the convention in Cleveland in July. Every delegate is a Superdelegate," he claimed in March.

Haughland and Parnell cite examples dating back to 1860 of moments when a delegate would stand up and challenge the votes announced by their delegate chair, claiming that the RNC has never -- except for 1976 under a temporary rule change -- forced delegates to vote against their conscience. According to the authors, Donald Trump still has one more sales pitch to make before he can claim the Republican nomination.

And Haughland is not the only party insider to make these claims, nor is this just on the Republican side. The leadership and delegation in both major parties assert the right to protect themselves from the "will of the voters" and/or "grassroots activists" if they believe it compromises the party's interests. Whether it is by superdelegates, closed elections, or rule changes, both parties have failsafes in place that could potentially nullify the will of even their own party's voters.

Watch the video IVN made in March:

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