By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog
TAMPA — Delegates from 56 U.S. states and territories have come to the Republican National Convention here to represent the desires of millions of GOP voters who participated in presidential primaries in 2012.
But party activists, delegates and influential observers allege the national party is using rule changes and sleight of hand to quash dissent inside the GOP.
One critic called it a “power grab” by the national party.
As reported by Florida Watchdog on Tuesday, party rules on who selects final delegates were changed to benefit the candidate leading the primary, silencing the delegates of future grassroots candidates. The rule change will be in effect for the 2016 Republican presidential primary.
“What this means is that states will no longer retain the right, under the new rules, to elect their delegates and have them stand. A presumptive nominee will be able to unseat an entire state’s delegates, if his campaign doesn’t like who’s on the slate,” Minnesota delegate Kevin Erikson told Democracy Now! on Tuesday.
Another rule change grants authority to the Republican National Committee to make impromptu changes in party procedure before the next national convention without input from local and state parties. That will likely affect how delegates are elected and which candidates have their names put forth.
“The rules move the national Republican Party away from being a decentralized, bottom-up party toward becoming a centralized, top-down party,” wrote Dean Clancy, legislative counsel for FreedomWorks, a grassroots conservative organization. He said the rule changes amounted to a “power grab.”
The changes were adopted by a 78-14 margin, without many delegates in attendance due to “confused” bus drivers who had “driven off course,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
As chance would have it, the buses carrying the Florida and Virginia delegations, the latter headed up by veteran conservative activist Morton Blackwell, who sternly campaigned on voting down the rule changes, somehow “got lost” in the last crucial minutes before the vote in the RNC rules committee.
Read more: Florida Watchdog