Team WIN THE MORNING's Ben Schreckinger is high on his own supply again if he thinks this is going to come to pass.
Mysterious outside groups are asking state parties for personal data on potential delegates, Republican campaigns are drawing up plans to send loyal representatives to obscure local conventions, and party officials are dusting off rule books to brush up on a process that hasn’t mattered for decades.
As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz divide up the first primaries and center-right Republicans tear one another apart in a race to be the mainstream alternative, Republicans are waging a shadow primary for control of delegates in anticipation of what one senior party official called “the white whale of politics”: a contested national convention.
The endgame for the most sophisticated campaigns is an inconclusive first ballot leading to a free-for-all power struggle on the floor in Cleveland.
“This is going to be a convention like I’ve never seen in my lifetime,” said veteran operative Barry Bennett, who managed Ben Carson’s campaign until December and is now advising Trump. “It’s going to be contentious from Day One.”
The primaries and caucuses that dot the nominating calendar and whose results drive headlines will decide whom most delegates are bound to vote for on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention. Should the first ballot fail to produce a nominee, the outcome of the convention will depend on results of the parallel primary now underway for the hearts and minds of delegates.
Each state party has its own rules governing delegate selection, a process so steeped in nuance and legal ambiguity that there are multiple blogs dedicated to wading through it all.
Man, Politico really, really, really wants a brokered convention fight. Like, more than I want bacon want. Look, I understand the plan, if everyone with delegates stays in the fight long enough, then they can keep Trump from getting a majority of primary delegates and force a fight. But the reality is if Trump keeps winning primaries -- and there's no reason to think he won't keep on winning them -- then GOP primary voters who voted for the guy aren't going to just say "Oh, well I mean he won but sure let's nominate Rubio!"
We're talking a rising column of flames here, guys. Hot in Cleveland.
But here's Politico trying to sell this notion anyway. It's enlightened self-interest, the GOP party apparatchiks want a brokered convention to get rid of Trump, and Politico wants arguably the biggest Republican fight in decades to cover.
But be careful what you wish for, guys...