Republican presidential candidates who hope to compete in Pennsylvania should be recruiting people to run for convention delegate sooner rather than later.
Pennsylvania’s primary isn’t until late April; for every presidential election since 1980, that’s been too late to matter.
But this is a crazy race so far, and if it’s still competitive then, the April 26 Pennsylvania primary will get a lot of attention.
But party rules provide that 54 of the state’s 68 delegates will be elected directly by voters that day, three per Congressional district, and they aren’t bound in any way by the popular vote in the primary.
Further, those delegates will appear on the ballot under their own names without any reference to a presidential candidate they may support.
So, veteran Republican consultant Charlie Gerow says that means presidential candidates have to recruit people willing to run for convention delegate, and they can’t be just anybody.
“The thing candidates need to do is get folks who can get themselves elected, which means good name identification within the district,” Gerow told me. “And folks that will stick with the candidate that is their preference.”
In other words, you want to get local mayors, state representatives or other notables from the district, but only if you’re sure they’re committed to your candidate.
And you can’t wait too long to make your pitch. Potential delegates have to file to run in February.
The 14 delegates who aren’t chosen directly by voters are selected by the state committee, and are all bound to support the winner of the primary’s popular vote on the first convention ballot.
Gerow, by the way, is backing Carly Fiorina.