GOP Rank And File Fight Back Against Party Elite In Hollywood

Republican officials fiercely debated the definition of marriage, immigration reform, Latino and black community outreach, and if delegates are free to nominate any presidential candidate at the party's national convention.

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Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus at the National Press Club in Washington, in 2013.

Licking their wounds after a 2012 election defeat, Republicans are meeting in California this week to reassess their internal party rules. But infighting erupted on day one between grassroots and establishment forces over proposed party reforms.

An early vote at the Republican National Committee’s annual meeting, held in the unlikely liberal bastion of Hollywood, shot down a party rules provision seeking to make the GOP presidential nominating process more transparent. The GOP’s rules committee voted 31-20 against a requirement that state party caucuses and primaries bind their delegates to support specific presidential candidates at the party’s national convention.

The measure was crafted by party officials largely in response to the 2012 takeover of several state delegations by supporters of Ron Paul. Paul supporters and other grassroots party activists had booed loudly when the change was announced at last summer’s party convention with the backing of top Romney campaign lawyer, Ben Ginsberg. But it is key to the nominating calendar reforms in the party’s official 2012 election autopsy, formally known at the Growth and Opportunity Project.

The repeal of the delegate binding provision is expected to fail in a vote by the full party committee tomorrow. But the narrow issue became a proxy for a larger argument over the Growth and Opportunity Project, and charges from party foot soldiers that the document represents an effort by establishment insiders to centralize control at their expense. Although a Los Angeles Times cartoonist imagined conservatives here tossing rotten eggs at the Hollywood homes of Rob Reiner and Sean Penn, on Wednesday the eggs were flying within the Loews Hollywood hotel.

The vote on convention delegates followed hours of debate over a broader rules package adopted at last summer’s convention that has angered rank and file social conservatives and libertarians. An effort pushed by conservative, anti-establishment advocate Morton Blackwell — who has attended every convention since 1964 — to repeal all of the convention changes went down. But that only strengthened the effort for a targeted assault on the caucus rule change.

The contentious debate and vote presaged the uphill battle within the Republican Party to adapt following Mitt Romney’s defeat, while shining a spotlight on the broader divides within the party. Even among the party bosses there is a divide between the “grassroots” and the “establishment,” complicated by the fact that members disagree on which is which.

Blackwell decried the convention rules changes as a “power grab” by the establishment. “We need to send a signal that power grabs and concentrations of power are not what the Republican Party is about.” Mississippi national committeeman Henry Barbour countered that “The voters are the ultimate grassroots,” and their preferences should be respected above all.

As efforts to step up outreach to the Latino and black communities have drawn widespread support, other recommendations of the five-member review panel, including advocating for immigration reform and a softer tone on gay marriage have been fiercely opposed by many RNC members and grassroots Republicans alike.

“It is one thing for a consultant-oriented study committee to come up with suggestions,” Blackwell said after the vote, “And it’s another to realize that folks who in fact make decisions on the rules come from states where people are jealous about their rights and don’t like to be told by national folks what to do.”

Earlier Wednesday, the RNC Resolutions committee unanimously reported a measure reaffirming the party’s belief that marriage is defined as between one man and one woman. The full committee will vote on the resolution on Friday. And while immigration was not on the agenda at the meeting, some conservative party members expressed concern that the party was caving to Democratic pressure.

On a practical level, the vote also undercut a significant recommendation of the autopsy—that the Republican nominating process be shortened and made simpler—with an emphasis on primaries over caucuses and regional contests over the disorganized jumble that has defined recent cycles. “We’re a party of states rights that respects states,” said Iowa chairman AJ Spiker. “The RNC should stand for that as well when it comes to how states want to select delegates.”

Barbour, the nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, said some in the committee have lost focus on their real jobs — building a GOP that puts Republicans in office. “We got to be about winning general elections and having beauty pageants is not helping us,” he said. “I think it’s a terrible idea for us to have hundreds of thousands of people show up and vote in a primary and have a thousand people show up at a state convention and just totally reverse what the primary voters did. It’s not in the party’s interests in terms of growing the party.”

36 comments
sacredh
sacredh

"Licking their wounds after a 2012 election defeat"

It's practice for 2016.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

The only thing the GOP is fighting back against is relevance. Seems they are determined to become a regional fringe party within the next daced if not sooner.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Please fight anything with a brain GOPers. 

PoliticsBuzzSaw
PoliticsBuzzSaw

@ZekeJMiller One of the most favorite pasttimes for the GOP is telling other people how to live their lives. That is outrageous ignorance!

grape_crush
grape_crush

Well, at least the GOPer 'grassroots' is being consistent in the application of their principles; they don't like centralized authority telling them what's what on the Federal level or within their own party. Wonder how long it will be until they start talking about how Priebus and Barbor are acting like Communist dicators?

Good times. Popcorn?

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

I can understand a lot of the complaints by the Right wing, but the bound delegates one is just plain stupid.  There was a Primary or Caucus where thousands cast their vote and you want to nullify their votes by not binding the delegates to represent the votes of that primary/caucus?

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

The GOP rank and file are fighting back against young adults, women, people of color and gays

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

It is not just the Hollywood elite, but it is a majority of Americans

fitty_three
fitty_three

Shorter GOP on outreach to the Black Community:

"F**k you. Vote GOP anyway."

MrObvious
MrObvious

To add, Kevin is the kind of guy you GOPers need to listen to. A Shrinking old white demographic with a chronic need for trolling and cranking.

He's your future.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@NorthernMNer @snipy I guess Snipy deleted his comment, so I thought I'd post this in response to you MNer...

The rightists believe that they are the people with the guns and will win in a civil war since they all know liberals don't own guns.  What they fail to see is that the lefties are (for the most part) the ones with the brains and can fly the predator drones that will take out our home-grown rightist "insurgents" from the safety of a C&C bunker a thousand miles away.  

I'm not sure why they tend to think we still live in 1861.  After all, the insurgency THEN failed and the guns of the time were on par with what the military had.  More to the point, I can't understand at all, what with televised precision munition strikes, that they haven't QUITE gotten the point that the U.S. military has had 12 YEARS of OJT in how to deal with terrorists, has developed weapons systems specifically designed to deal with them and has guns that are bigger meaner and deadlier than anything a rightist gun enthusiast will ever bring to the battle that they'll happily give to leftists to deal with the problem.

An insurgency against the might of the United States will be short, bloody and very conclusive.

So, yeah, let the civil war begin.  The next week, when it's over, the average IQ of the country will have gone up 20%.  The only down side to that is that liberal ideology will likely take over, so it's not all THAT great of a solution.

Step11
Step11

@PoliticsBuzzSaw @ZekeJMiller And yet still scream Nanny State without the least bit of irony.

Tero
Tero

@PoliticsBuzzSaw @ZekeJMiller 

Yes the GOP loves big government. They want government in the doctor's office and in the beds of consenting adults... they are total hypocrites. Fortunately most GOPers are getting on in years and will soon be dying off.

KevinGroenhagen
KevinGroenhagen

@PoliticsBuzzSaw@ZekeJMiller  Yes, just like the GOP does with Obamacare, gun control, Medicare, Social Security, etc.

reallife
reallife

@53_3 as opposed to the Democrats' message:

Vote for us! we'll feed you the crumbs that we steal off the rich white man, and we'll keep you poor for the rest of your lives, but you'll feel great!

 

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@MrObvious 

God I hope so.  Endless election wins on the horizon for Democrats if that's the case.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@KevinGroenhagen @ZekeJMiller

Obamacare, gun control, Medicare, Social Security

Romney/Dolecare, Forcing some communities to own guns, Gay Marriage/Sodomy/Abortion laws.  Why yes, they do.

Step11
Step11

@KevinGroenhagen - Seriously, that's your best comeback?  

No wonder you're a failure of a writer and a liar about your military service.