Ohio Gov. John Kasich hopes to pick up momentum by winning the Pennsylvania primary this month, but his campaign could be stopped cold by an obscure Republican Party rule. He says it’s no problem.
Rule 40-B, adopted four years ago, says the GOP convention can’t even consider anyone for the nomination who hasn’t won a majority of delegates in at least eight states. That’s a threshold so far reached only by Donald Trump, and something Kasich is unlikely to achieve in the remaining primaries.
Reporters asked Kasich about the rule when he held a news conference in Philadelphia last week, and he was ready for the question.
“As it applies to the rules of the convention, there are no rules. The rules committee has not yet met,” Kasich said.
He’s right. In fact, the rules committee for this convention isn’t even fully formed yet.
It will consist of two members selected by the delegations of each state and territory, and it will meet a week before the convention in Cleveland to propose a set of rules.
It could revoke the eight-state requirement — or let it stand.
The requirement was added before the 2012 convention, by all accounts a move by Mitt Romney forces to keep Ron Paul from getting votes and TV time.
The move “caused a great uproar and many hard feelings,” according to Morton Blackwell of Virginia, a member of many convention rules committees over the years.
“Large numbers of delegates went home furious,” Blackwell wrote of the convention. “They had come to Tampa to cast their votes for other candidates, but their votes weren’t even counted!”
There’s a coming debate about whether the eight-state rule should be modified or revoked.
A story in Politico this week says several members appointed to this year’s rules committee want to scrap it.
One thing’s clear: The committee’s action or inaction will likely be affected by delegates’ candidate preferences, and which candidates would be helped or harmed by tinkering with Rule 40.
Kasich’s chances for a favorable rules change depend in part on how he performs in the remaining primaries and caucuses — and on party leaders’ appetite for a truly open convention.