The long, grueling and sometimes frustrating primary season Republicans have just about finished was explained at length by John Ryder at Tuesday’s Midtown Republican Club.
Mr. Ryder has been involved in the reforming of the presidential process with the RNC for years. “The concern has been that we’ve been in a one day primary,” the Memphian said. “The nominee should not, in my opinion, be elected by four states. I want to make more states relevant. I believe that Tennessee has citizens with as great an intelligence, judgement and foresight as Iowa or New Hampshire. The people of the Granite State are not as intelligent as Tennesseans – I’ve met them,” Ryder said with a smile.
He went on to detail the different ideas the RNC has wrestled with to ensure a more open and fair primary.
“In ’92 we adopted reforms that used incentives and gave bonuses to states to hold their primaries later; as a result six states moved their primary dates forward. In the next changes six more states moved forward and in 2000 60% of delegates were elected on a single day.
“Then we had the Delaware plan. States were ranked from smallest to largest with the idea that nobody could assemble a majority until the big states weighed in. Eight years later we had another variation the McCain campaign didn’t like but we avoided any floor fights and got the right to change the rules.
“We got a temporary committee to draft a change in the rules and voted in 2010 out from the shadow of the presidential campaign. The temporary delegate committee met for two years and we came up with the final plan. It carves out four states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. They got free reign to have their primaries before the first of April but the votes have to be proportional in allocation of delegates. After that date, the states are free to allocate delegates as they wish.
Ryder pointed out that in 2008 the Democrats used the proportionality plan all the way to the convention. “We (at the RNC) thought that made for too much blood letting and spending of money. We wanted to have the four early states, proportional delegates and the rest of the states would have the choice of proportionality and most chose it.
“The fly in the ointment was Florida. They moved their date up. The Florida legislature wanted two things: 1. the power of being an early player and 2. the benefit of money pouring into the state from campaign advertising, trips and hotel rooms.
South Carolina, Ryder said, is a different matter. “The South Carolina Republican Party pays for the election (vs. the state), but then asks candidates to pay for it. They get enough from it to fund the local party for four years. Texas produces 11,000 delegates while there are only 2400 in the national convention.
“You see with 50 states you have 50 different political cultures. Each variation reflects the politics of that state. We thought our plan was a good idea to steer away from a national day. Before we elected a majority of delegates before Super Tuesday. This was the first time that fewer delegates were voted in on Super Tuesday.
Ryder said Tennessee may jump in and move up their date next time.
Tomorrow: What it means to be the presumptive candidate and Ryder’s thoughts on the debates.