This afternoon the Republican National Convention is slated to pass a new rule superintended by the chairman of its Rules Committee, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu. New Hampshire, together with Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada have been desperate to preserve their first-in-the-nation status in the nominating schedule, and they’ve been miffed when other states–notably Florida–break out of the prescribed window and hold their primaries earlier. This forces the four early states to go earlier and earlier–and to lose half their delegates, as rules-breaking states like Florida do. Florida has been willing to lose half their delegates in order to get a prominent role in the nominating process–as they did this year, when Mitt Romney polished off Newt Gingrich in the Florida primary.
Sununu’s solution. The four early states will not lose any delegates if they schedule their primaries earlier in response to a rule-breaking state. But the rule-breaking state or states will get only 9 delegates each. Nine delegates is the same number that the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa get. If you’re a big state like Florida, which has 19 million people, your Republican leaders are going to have a hard time finding enough delegate seats for the party’s leading officeholders and fundraisers if they have only nine to dole out. According to a former statewide appointive official who is widely believed to be a reliable source, Sununu steered this easily through the Rules Committee and expects no trouble from the floor.
And to think this is happening in a convention held in Florida.